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Ledyard - JoJo Shumaker was just getting comfortable as a sophomore on the Ledyard High School football team last season when, due to an illness in the family, he moved to Hudson, Fla., for the remainder of the school year.
"He has 'it' as a runner that you just don't coach, but you let it flourish," Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore said. "It was very difficult to watch him walk away, but family comes first.
"We're just happy to get him back."
Shumaker, back at Ledyard, ran for 186 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries Friday night in a 55-14 victory over Killingly in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division.
His weren't the only highlights for the unbeaten Colonels, either, who have reinvented themselves as a no-huddle spread offense, as opposed to the traditional Ledyard playbook which included "run right," "run left" and "run up the middle."
Sophomore quarterback Ty Ebdon added 246 yards passing and three touchdowns, going 10-for-15. He threw TD passes of 27 yards to Jordan Kowalski (5 catches, 100 yards), 46 yards to Joe Carter and 52 yards to River Thomas.
Khary Childs added a 74-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first half, when Ledyard (3-0, 2-0) scored on its first four possessions and took a 42-6 lead.
Killingly (2-1, 1-1) was playing without star running back Tyler Stucke, who sprained his ankle in last week's victory over Waterford.
"It definitely feels nice to be back," said Shumaker, who had touchdown runs of 4, 63, 6 and 28 yards and had an 80-yarder called back due to a holding penalty.
"I've lived in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Florida. Ledyard is different than any other place I've been. It's a strong community, positive environment. I miss a lot of the guys from last year, but this is a special group. It's definitely a good feeling. It's not all on me. It's not all on one person."
Ledyard scored on its first possession, set up by a 30-yard throw from Ebdon to Kowalski. Shumaker ran it in from four yards out for the touchdown.
Killingly wasn't backing off, however, with freshman quarterback Kyle Derosier going 3-for-4 on the Redmen's first drive for 61 yards, including a 19-yard scoring strike to Travis Zurowski. The kick failed, making it 7-6 in favor of Ledyard.
That's when Ledyard's speed became apparent, however, as Childs received the ensuing kickoff at his own 26 and ran it back down the right side. Shumaker then scored on the first play from scrimmage on the Colonels' next possession, taking the ball 63 yards for a touchdown and a 21-6 lead.
Carter came up with an interception on Killingly's next drive, giving it back to the Ledyard offense, which got a 6-yard touchdown run from Shumaker to give the Colonels a 28-6 lead with 34 seconds still remaining in the first quarter.
"We've got some weapons. We've got some guys that can run after the catch," Buonocore said. "It's a lot of fun coaching these guys. It's different than what we've done. Over the last three years, we were a run-oriented team with a big offensive line.
"In high school football, you've got to adapt and adjust to the talent you have."