CHESHIRE — The CIAC will leave the Frozen Tundra to Green Bay, thank you very much.
As Sunday’s wintry weather spread into Monday, the CIAC opted by midday to delay the start of the state football playoffs.
The quarterfinals, originally scheduled for Tuesday night, have been pushed to Wednesday, with the 6:30 kickoff time remaining for all 16 games.
In a concommitant move, the semifinals set for Sunday at 12:30 p.m. have been moved to Monday, Dec. 9. Those games will now kickoff at 6:30 p.m.
The state finals remain on as scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14. Two of the championships will be played at Willow Brook Park in New Britain, the other two at Trumbull High School.
The extra 24 hours before the start of the tournament will give quarterfinal hosts time to get their facilities cleared of snow and ice.
It will also give teams ample prep time. A number of school districts cancelled after-school activities on Monday, including Cheshire and Wallingford, which meant some teams lost a day of practice from an already short week.
The four area qualifiers — Southington, Cheshire, Sheehan and Maloney — all played on Thanksgiving. That left just four days to get ready for the quarterfinals.
The CIAC’s blanket rescheduling puts everybody back on equal footing. Pushing the semifinals to Monday also ensured quarterfinal winners would have more than three days to get ready for the final four.
“Given the number of sites and games for the football postseason and the importance of maintaining equal and appropriate recovery for all teams, in consultation with the schools and tournament director we felt it best to reschedule the entire quarterfinal round of games,” read the CIAC statement.
Southington, Maloney and Sheehan all head to the postseason riding Thanksgiving Day victories. Cheshire will need to bounce back from its emotional 21-20 loss to Southington, a game decided when the Blue Knights stopped the Rams on a two-point conversion try in double overtime.
The Rams will be hungry to get back after it. They haven’t been to the postseason since the 2009 team captured the 2009 Class LL championship.
“It is important to get back out there,” said head coach Don Drust, who was an assistant on that 2009 squad. “We are fortunate that our guys are able to be around each other for another five days (after Thanksgiving).”
Southington, meanwhile, won’t be riding the coattails of Thursday’s dramatic win. The page in the Blue Knights’ book flipped on Friday to quarterfinal opponent Ridgefield.
"I said to enjoy (beating Cheshire) on Thanksgiving, but we're done talking about that,” said Southington head coach Mike Drury. “It's in our memory. Our total focus is Ridgefield. It's a short turnaround, but the guys have responded well. They are prepared and have their minds right for Ridgefield.”
Greg Lederer & Ron Buck contributed to this story