Teamwork lifts Killingly football to Class M title
New Britain — Spencer Lockwood spent the majority of the 2017 football season accumulating the majority of Killingly’s yardage and points.
Funny, then, that on a Monday where Lockwood earned Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year honors that it took an ensemble cast for the Killingly High school football team to win the CIAC Class M title.
Zach Caffrey. Luke Desaulnier. Zack Burgess. Nsaiah Harriet. Matt Phelan. Vasileios Politis. Every one of them and more played big in the biggest game of Killingly’s season-long joyride.
Killingly 41, Barlow 14.
The Quiet Corner ain’t so quiet right now.
“These guys here, it’s all about team,” Killingly coach Chad Neal said. “You see it with the receivers. They’re not getting the ball much. They’re going to block for one another.
“They just ultimately sacrifice for each other, and they don’t want the accolades. They just want to win.”
It was Killingly’s third state title and it’s first since it won the 1996 Class M championship. The title was the first for an Eastern Connecticut Conference team since New London won in 2008.
Top-seeded Killingly finished 13-0. It finished as the state’s only unbeaten team after St. Joseph rallied to beat Ansonia 42-36 in the Class S final.
Killingly also snapped the Eastern Connecticut Conference's longest CIAC state title drought. Its last state champion was New London (Class SS) in 2008. Every other league except the newly formed Connecticut Technical Conference had at least one state champion over that time.
Sixth-seeded Barlow finished 9-4.
Lockwood had run the ball on over 59 percent of the Redmen’s offensive plays prior to Monday and became just the sixth player in state history to rush for over 3,000 yards in a season.
Lockwood twisted his ankle on his third carry of the game. It forced Killingly to adjust with Lockwood being a decoy.
“Everyone played great,” Lockwood said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team. I’m just so glad to see things work out they way that they did.
“To see everyone else having success out there, it was phenomenal. It just shows that all the hard work that we put into the offseason the last four years (paid off). It was awesome.”
Caffrey, a fullback, ran 16 times for a game-high 187 yards. That included an 86-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that gave the Redmen a 41-14 lead.
“They were keying on Spencer a little bit more,” Caffrey said. “They were flowing a little hard on the cutback. The line blocked great. They did a great job out there.”
John Cacciapuoti (left tackle), Ethan Canova (left guard), Michael Diruscio (center), Alex Fontaine (right tackle), Phelan (right guard), and tight ends Jacob Gauthier and Quinn Gervasio allowed Killingly to run for 418 yards on 43 carries.
Lockwood ran 20 times for 110 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown on the game’s first play.
Desaulnier scored on a 3-yard run, threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Politis, and made five extra points.
Burgess had three carries for 60 yards and a touchdown.
Alex Stillman had nine carries for 139 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons and Cal Peterson ran 14 times for 111 yards and a score.
Barlow led 14-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter when it had a touchdown called back on a chop block. It didn’t score on that drive.
“I thought that was really the turning point right there in the game,” Falcons coach Rob Tynan said. “I would’ve liked to have see it get to 21-7.”
The game really began to swing Killingly’s way when Harriet forced Barlow quarterback Trevor Furrer to fumble the ball. Harriet recovered it at the Falcons’ 16-yard line midway through the second quarter.
“(Furrer) went to start (pitching it) it, and I just grabbed his shoulder and I turned him, and he just lost it,” Harriet said. “I thought about picking it up and running on it, but I was like, maybe I should just lay on this. Maybe I should just hold this right now.”
Killingly made the turnover count as Lockwood scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 14 with 5:40 remaining in the first half.
Caffrey’s 48-yard run set up Killingly’s next touchdown, a 3-yard run by Desaulnier, to push it ahead 21-7.
The Redmen got the ball back with 27 seconds left in the half at their own 45. Burgess ran 34 yards on a reverse and Barlow was flagged for a personal foul, moving the ball up to the Falcons’ 11.
Desaulnier hooked up with Politis for a touchdown pass with six seconds left in the half and gave Killingly a 27-14 halftime lead.
“It feels great,” Harriet said. “It feels amazing. We worked so hard for this.”
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