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Ledyard — To think that a year earlier when they clinched the division championship, the players and coaches of Ledyard High School chanted "ECC, ECC" for all to hear.
It was barely mentioned postgame Friday night at Mignault Field, certainly not with as much excitement as the anticipation of next week's showdown with New London.
But Ledyard nonetheless gave itself a chance to win Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division title with its 47-7 win over Bacon Academy. The Colonels would win their second straight outright title if Waterford defeats Windham on Monday night.
A Windham victory would create a three-way tie with Montville, leaving the school with the most state playoff points at the end of the year as the champion.
"We knew we had to win this game, we're ECC champs pretty much," senior Ryan Wade said. "We won it last year. Now we're getting ready for New London."
Wade was part of a defense that came within one play — the last one — of a shutout. Bacon scored on the last play of the game against Ledyard's reserves.
Ledyard (6-2, 3-1) had a 40-0 lead at halftime. Coach Jim Buonocore played his entire roster in the second half.
It wasn't the easiest week for Buonocore or his team. Forget the biggie with New London looming. Hurricane Sandy disrupted much of the preparation, even forcing Buonocore to watch game film on his I-Phone.
"I really felt good coming in. The focus the last two days with everything going on around us, the storm, not being in school, was outstanding," Buonocore said.
"They've started to hear us and listen. They realize what's at stake," he said. "With each week that goes by, it's one less opportunity they have and they'll never get them back. We have an opportunity next week that's essentially a playoff game."
Joe Carter scored three times in the first half for the Colonels on runs of 2, 4 and 68 yards. Darnay Gray also scored for Ledyard, while quarterback John Rainey threw scoring passes to Kyle Perry (39 yards) and Jordan Kowalski (25 yards). It was the first offensive touchdown of Perry's career. And it took two tries to happen. Perry dropped one earlier in the game.
"It was the same play," Perry said. "I was thinking 'if I drop this one, I swear to God … ' I got up field and ran my (rear end) off."
Phillip Thomas returned a fumble 62 yards in the second half for Ledyard's last score.