Killingly — It is customary for the Ledyard High School football players to take a knee in the end zone after the game and form a horseshoe around coach Jim Buonocore, who normally provides a brief State Of The Colonels address.
It was no different Thursday night, except for bowed heads and forlorn looks, hardly resembling a team that just won the game.
"Break it down," Buonocore said succinctly, "and get off the field."
And not that Buonocore was about to give back his team's 35-18 victory over Killingly. But practice this week on the campus of the ninth-ranked team in the state media poll will be more monologue than dialogue.
"They need to start listening," Buonocore said of his players, after confirming that he thought they didn't take Killingly with enough seriousness. "We're going to be in a dogfight every week. Give Killingly a lot of credit. They were not at all intimidated by us."
Buonocore was more irritated with his defense. His offense was plenty good enough, led by 107 rushing yards from JoJo Shumaker, 78 from quarterback John Rainey, 65 from Darnay Gray and 56 from Joe Carter. Rainey completed 7-of-12 passes, including touchdown passes to Evan August (3 yards) and a jump ball to tight end Chris Gill (15 yards).
"That's because we play ultimate frisbee in gym class and (Gill) goes up and gets everything," Rainey said.
The Redmen (0-2), despite a masochistic early season schedule (New London, Ledyard, Montville) trailed 28-12 at halftime and would have been closer had a holding penalty in front of the Ledyard sideline not negated Tyler Stucke's long run.
"We look at these games as an opportunity to make a name for ourselves," Killingly coach Chad Neal said. "Our kids know New London, Ledyard, Montville. But we're not going to back down from anybody."
Stucke's 62-yard touchdown run cut Ledyard's early 14-0 lead to 14-6.
"We tackled poorly, made too many mental mistakes and got manhandled on the edges," Buonocore said.
Shumaker, Carter and Rainey had touchdown runs for Ledyard (2-0).
"Our backs ran hard and they weren't 100 percent healthy," Buonocore said. "John Rainey had a nice night. Chris Gill gave us a weapon downfield. That's important."