Published October 19. 2013 4:00AM
Montville — His team had just won its fourth straight game Friday night, scored 41 points and tied Ledyard for the lead in the Medium Division of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
And yet Tanner Grove, the coach at Montville High School, commenced with a rather monumental spleen venter in the postgame state of the union, railing about every detail of his team's 41-37 win over Waterford.
"Outside of six running plays," Grove said, alluding to Jeremiah Crowley's six touchdown runs, "I didn't like a thing we did. We didn't do anything right on defense or in the kicking game. That's my fault. I didn't have everyone as locked in this week as maybe they needed to be.
"I think the kids got caught up looking down the road. We had put up a few wins and they overlooked a quality Waterford team. I know as well as the kids that Waterford might not have had the athletic matchups in this game, but we played as poorly as we could."
Notable exception: Crowley. His 27 carries and 346 yards included scoring runs of 16, 79, 1, 14, 8 and 51 yards. The 51-yarder came moments after Crowley took a cleat to the throat and was momentarily gasping for breath on the field. The TD gave Montville a 41-23 lead at the time.
Turns out the Indians (4-2, 2-0) needed it. Waterford (2-4, 1-3) rallied late. Waterford coach Mike Ellis, whose team amassed 413 total yards, was far more satisfied with his team's effort than his counterpart.
"I think when you take a look at years past, Montville expects to beat Waterford and I don't think Montville expects it to be a close game," Ellis said. "I think they thought they should have put us away and we hung in there."
Indeed. Quarterback Seth Hoagland hit Isaiah Jones and Dan Martin with late touchdown passes to pull the Lancers close. Hoagland finished 8-for-17 for 211 yards and three touchdowns, the third of which went to senior Donny Craig earlier in the game.
Waterford fullback Joe Gustafson ran 21 times for 166 yards.
But every time the Lancers got close, they were unable to slow Crowley, who has already eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season.
"He has a low center of gravity and is very patient," Ellis said. "He sits behind blockers and as soon as you close in, he's very good at feeling contact and spinning out of it. And because he stays low to the ground, he remains in a power position. A couple of times we hit him pretty good and he kept going."
Grove: "My most favorite part of him is that he might be the only kid I've met in my career who wants to win as much as I do. A fierce competitor."