By NED X. GRIFFEN
The Windham football team hasn't had much depth over the years. They dressed 26 players Saturday against Ledyard.
The Whippets still have athletes and grit, and, as one wise coach said over the weekend, you can always count on them to knock off one of the Eastern Connecticut Conference's heavyweights.
Such was the case against unbeaten Ledyard. Windham scored three first-half touchdowns and went on to shock one of the conference's heavy favorites, 21-14.
"Hey, we're just a few good men," Whippets coach Brian Crudden said. "We have more guys playing two ways. We don't have too many guys, but we're fortunate to have the talent that we have."
Alex Beaudreault completed 8 of 14 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown and scored on a 1-yard run for Windham (2-1). Christian Clarke had 15 carries for 132 yards and ran for a two-point conversion when a point after attempt went awry. Spencer Hill added 19 carries for 80 yards.
Special teams and a big pass play helped turn the game in the Whippets favor. After they went ahead 15-7, Issiah Santiago kicked a deep squib that was recovered by teammate Mark Frazer at the Colonels 43.
On the next play, Beaudreault found Dakota Fleming behind the Ledyard defense and threw a 43-yard touchdown.
"We went up top on the first play," Crudden said. "Beaudreault threw a nice pass to our tight end, Dakota Fleming, and that kind of ignited us."
Arguably the most impressive element of Windham's win was its defense. Scoring wasn't going to be a problem for it this season, but with so many newbies on defense, keeping the opponent off the board could prove challenging.
The Whippets held JoJo Shumaker, Ledyard's top back, to 60 yards on 18 carries.
Colonels senior quarterback John Rainey was benched for most of the first half due to what head coach Jim Buonocore told the Norwich Bulletin was a team issue.
"We have a lot of young guys in really important positions," Crudden said. "We do have some senior inside linebackers we think are doing a pretty fine job. Spencer Hill, he doubles at fullback and inside linebacker. That's not an easy task, particularly in our offense. And he can play defensive end. That was actually a key as far as the defensive game plan (Saturday). He'd slide to the defensive end from inside linebacker. He was involved in a lot of tackles.
"Ryan Luberto plays offensive guard, which is not an easy task, either. He also plays inside linebacker. So we've been going with those older guys."
Crudden thought the defense came came to life during the East Lyme game on Sept. 21. Windham trailed by 15 points at halftime, but scored 32 unanswered points in the second half to win, 38-21.
"They (the defense) seem to have passed through some kind of threshold at halftime of the East Lyme game and arrived as an aggressive defense at that point," Crudden said.
Windham plays at Griswold Friday (6:30 p.m.)
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Okay, try to make sense out of Saturday's Torrington vs. Holy Cross of Waterbury game:
* Torrington was 0-2. It had blown a 21-point lead to Wolcott in its previous game and lost, 39-34.
* Torrington was without starting quarterback Phil Bresson (coach Dan Dunaj wouldn't comment about his absence to the Waterbury Republican American). Freshman Connor Finn got the start.
* Star tailback Joan Toribio was injured in the first half and had just one carry in the second half.
* Kicker P.J. Killmartin is a sophomore celebrating his 16th birthday.
* Holy Cross was unbeaten, the defending CIAC Class S champion, and considered one of the Naugatuck Valley League's best teams.
With all that working against Torrington, Killmartin kicked a 17-yard field goal with five seconds left to give his team a stunning 24-21 win.
Oh, yeah — the Red Raiders began the game-winning drive on their 12-yard line with over four minutes left.
Football is weird.
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Beware Class M — St. Joseph of Trumbull is back.
St. Joseph had the weekend's most noteworthy win, rallying to beat Darien in double overtime Saturday, 35-28.
The Cadets, after winning consecutive state titles, started an entirely new team of youngsters last season. They took their share of beatings, but won their final three games. They began this season tied at 14 with Staples for 35 minutes before the latter hit the turbo boosters and won, 49-28.
Saturday, St. Joseph rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit. It had a chance to win the game in the first overtime, but Jake Pelletier's 21-yard field field goal went wide right, forcing a second overtime.
Mufasha Abdul Basir ran for a 2-yard touchdown in the second overtime, and the defense held Darien for the win.
Pelletier did a little bit of everything for St. Joseph (2-1). He had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, scored on a 1-yard run and kicked five extra points.
Jordan Vazzano completed 16 of 35 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Abdul Basir added 19 carries for 127 yards.
St. Joseph is ranked ninth in the Class M ratings with games remaining against New Canaan (Oct. 27), unbeaten Trinity Catholic of Stamford (Nov. 10) and town rival Trumbull on Thanksgrabbing Eve.
Darien (2-1) was ranked 10th in last week's New Haven Register media poll.
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So Naugatuck scored 42 points against St. Paul of Bristol Saturday. In the second quarter.
The Greyhounds came close to setting state records as they blitzed the Falcons, 70-33.
Naugatuck's 42 second-quarter points ranks third in state history according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book. New London holds the record with 51 second-quarter points in a 2005 rout of Plainfield.
The Greyhounds had 63 points at halftime, which ranks fourth all-time in Connecticut. Bloomfield scored 69 in one half of its 1999 win over Hall of West Hartford.
Mike D'Agnone scored on interception returns of 37 and 47 yards for Naugatuck. It would be the third straight game that an opponent returned a St. Paul interception for a touchdown.
D'Agnone also scored on catches of 6 and 30 for the Greyhounds (2-1) while Mick Pernell ran 17 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns and also had four catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Also, Jason Bradley completed eight of his nine passes for 234 yards and five touchdowns.
The Falcons (0-3), as usual, were anything but dull in defeat. Logan Marchi completed 17 of 35 passes for 325 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Reid Morin had five catches for 164 yards and three touchdowns.
St. Paul has given up a state-worst 181 points. On the flip side, they've scored an average of 36 points.
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The Day Of New London's Top 10 state coaches' poll: 1. Xavier-Middletown (3-0, 12 first place votes); 2. Ansonia (3-0, 1); 3. Hand-Madison (3-0); 4. Staples-Westport (3-0); 5. Windsor (3-0); 6. Masuk-Monroe (3-0); 7. West Haven (3-0); 8. Greenwich (2-0); 9. Glastonbury (3-0); and, 10. Berlin (3-0).
The New Haven Register Top 10 media poll: 1. Xavier (21 firsts); 2. Staples (four firsts); 3. Hand (one first); 4. Ansonia; 5. Windsor; 6. Greenwich; 7. Masuk; 8. West Haven; 9. Glastonbury; and, 10. Berlin.
Ned Freeman's cold, calculating "Freeman Ratings" at CalPreps.com: 1. Ansonia; 2. Xavier; 3. Staples; 4. Hand; 5. West Haven; 6. Masuk; 7. Greenwich; 8. New London (3-0); 9. St. Joseph (2-1); and, 10. Newtown (3-0). Windsor is 11th, Glastonbury 13th and Berlin 32nd.
Vaya con dios….