Falcons walk tall as they beat Vikings

Groton - Tory Knaff was asked how tall he was.

"I'm about 5-6," Knaff, a Fitch High School junior, said. "I weigh about 185 pounds. I'm like a short, little guy. A short, chubby little guy."

Knaff, by the way, is a starting offensive guard.

As football players go, Fitch passes the eye test. The Falcons overwhelmed East Lyme Friday 48-13 in their Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division opener at Dorr Field.

The first thing that's noticeable about the Falcons, however, is that they're, um, vertically challenged.

"We're a small team, but we do pack a punch," Knaff said. "We will let our opponents know who we are, what we are, and what we're here to do."

The diminutive Robert Johnston ran nine times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 54-yard touchdown.

Saffwan Davis is 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds. He ran 13 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

"Coach (Jordan) Panucci had us preparing hard in the offseason lifting more than I ever had," Davis said. "(He had us) doing crossfits, so we're always in shape. It got us ready for stuff like this. We work."

Kevin Manzanares added a 14-yard touchdown run.

In all, the Falcons ran 41 times for 318 yards.

"Yeah, we're small, but we're stocky," Fitch coach Mike Emery said. "Like John Moscol wears large pants, believe it or not, because his legs are so big that we can't get him into mediums or smalls even though he's (not) big because of all the lifting. We knew we were going to be on the small side, but it doesn't bother me in the least."

Emery, a lightweight himself, added: "Someone like me, why would I worry about size?"

Quarterback Devante Anderson, one of the tallest Falcons, completed 4 of 8 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown.

East Lyme scored just once against Fitch's first team defense. Eric Stirtan ran 18 times for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Mark Chmielewski caught a 69-yard touchdown from Mitchell Murphy with over four minutes left in the game. Chmielewski had three catches for 128 yards.

"(The Falcons) were good," Vikings coach Paul Tenaglia said. "Davis and (Johnston), they're good backs. We didn't tackle very well. We need to do a better job of tackling. We have some inexperience.

"We'll get better as the season goes on. We have good athletes."

Knaff even scored for Fitch, scooping up Davis' fumble at the East Lyme 28-yard line early in the second quarter and ran it in for a touchdown. It gave Fitch a 20-0 lead.

Again, Knaff is a guard. A 5-foot-6 guard.

"I was a starting guard back in youth football," Knaff said. "I played guard my freshman year. This year, I tried to go to tight end, but (the coaches) were like, 'No, Tory, go ahead (and) stay at guard. This is a really good fit for you. You're really fast off the ball and you can just hit."

n.griffen@theday.com

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