Fitch routs Windham 42-6 to qualify for Class L state football playoffs

Fitch's Justice Farris (11) celebrates with Daniel Mojica after catching a 38-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Nelli during the Falcons' 42-6 win over Windham on Thursday at Dorr Field in Groton. Fitch remained unbeaten and clinched a Class L state playoff berth. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Fitch's Justice Farris (11) celebrates with Daniel Mojica after catching a 38-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Nelli during the Falcons' 42-6 win over Windham on Thursday at Dorr Field in Groton. Fitch remained unbeaten and clinched a Class L state playoff berth. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

Groton — This is what making the high school football playoffs looked like Thursday night at Dorr Field:

Chasing coach Mike Ellis around the field postgame with the water bucket (it was all Fitch senior Alex Perry's idea), watching the coach move deceptively fast, but still dousing the happy douse, everyone howling with approval ... and then making mud angels rolling around the home lawn.

And now it's official: Fitch, perhaps not the first choice among observers of local football to be a playoff team a few months ago, is going to the postseason. The Falcons clinched a CIAC Class L playoff berth with a 42-6 win over Windham.

The Falcons (9-0) still need a win on Thanksgiving to keep a quarterfinal home game a possibility.

"Look up there," Ellis was saying, alluding to the white board in the field house with the team's preseason goals. "The kids wrote 'beat Notre Dame of West Haven, have a winning record and win ECC Division I.' That's where their focus was.

"I'm not sure they thought they could be here right now. I bet if you said before the year we'd be 6-4, they'd have been happy. But we'll sure take this."

Fitch quarterback Tyler Nelli ran for 93 yards and two touchdowns, also throwing a 38-yard touchdown pass to Justice Farris. Tyler Andrews, who got more carries with senior Hollis Scott (sprained ankle) injured, led Fitch with 113 yards rushing.

Tony Figueroa (40-yard run after a fumble recovery) and Pedro Mojica (13-yard run) also scored for Fitch.

Nate Barbosa Torres ran for 137 yards and scored the lone touchdown for Windham (2-7).

"Every year is a journey with your kids and win or lose, you've got to enjoy it," Ellis said. "The neat thing about this is this is something these kids have never experienced before."

And yet amid the joy in the fieldhouse after the game, Ellis reminded his players the significance of Thanksgiving Day at Ledyard, beyond any playoff implications.

"Getting that sword (the Colonel Ledyard Sword) back last year was one of the turning points for this season," Ellis said. "I think it really motivated the kids all offseason. I know people have differing opinions, but I grew up on Thanksgiving Day football. I love it. To me, there's nothing better for these kids than to get that sword.

"It's really like a playoff game."

Fitch will learn its playoff opponent after the result of the Thanksgiving games.

m.dimauro@theday.com

Fitch's quarterback Tyler Nelli (2) pitches the ball away from a pair of Windham defenders during Thursday night's game in Groton. The unbeaten Falcons clinched a Class L state playoff berth with a 42-6 win. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Fitch's quarterback Tyler Nelli (2) pitches the ball away from a pair of Windham defenders during Thursday night's game in Groton. The unbeaten Falcons clinched a Class L state playoff berth with a 42-6 win. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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