The Lonesome Polecat (SE Conn varient): It was a true team win for the Falcons


The football players at Fitch High School either learned a valuable lesson Friday night or had one reinforced: To achive an undefeated record into mid-November requires the help of the entire roster.

Indeed, the Falcons entered Friday’s showdown at East Lyme with trepidation to say the least. Several starters, either through illness or a serious car accident earlier in the day, would not play. Meanwhile, East Lyme was healthy and coming off a bye week.

Many of the names who contributed to the 20-14 victory weren’t necessarily the ones most responsible for the undefeated record. But Pedro Mojica, Oliver Banks, Nick Helbig and Kennard Tate couldn’t have played better.

Mojica, a starting linebacker, filled in for injured fullback Hollis Scott and went 88 yards for a touchdown. Banks, a junior, played well on the offensive line. Tate started in the secondary with starters out. And Helbig, who emerged as one of Fitch’s best baseball players last spring (he homered into the parking lot late in the season) had three sacks on defense.

“We weren’t sure what would happen or how anyone would react,” Fitch coach Mike Ellis said, alluding to the events of the day. “But the kids who were out there couldn’t have done much better.”

“Next man up” sounds fine and all, but the confidence of the team skyrockets when it’s applied.

“It was hard to focus with the accident and all,” quarterback Tyler Nelli said after the game, “but once we got here, we were all into the game.”

Nelli, who ran for 136 yards, iced the game with a first-down run in the final two minutes.

Fitch walked off the field closer to a CIAC Class L playoff berth and a potential home game (it would qualify for states with a win over Windham on Thursday). The Falcons also won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I title. So there’s a banner hanging, if nothing else, for this season.

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New London’s Jacob Commander wasted no time letting Ledyard know he’d be spending much of Friday’s game in its backfield.

Commander, a junior running back-linebacker, dropped the Colonels for a 2-yard loss on their third play of the game. He stopped their fourth play for no gain. He followed that with a tackle for a 3-yard loss on their sixth play.

There was arguably no player who impacted the Whalers’ 26-0 win more than the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Commander. If he wasn’t blowing up a running play at linebacker, then he was plowing into Ledyard’s defense and being difficult to take down (Commander is, after all, the reigning ECC 160-pound wrestling champion).

Commander ran 12 times for 88 yards and a touchdown.

“His numbers offensively aren’t going to reflect how hard he worked,” New London head coach Juan Roman said. “There were probably half a dozen times this year that he wasn’t down but was called down that were touchdowns. He runs so low to the ground.

“He’s a great kid, a hard worker, and does anything you ask him to do. And he works as hard on defense as offense. You know he’s going to be a pain for anybody on the (wrestling) mat this year. That’s just who he is. And that’s the Commanders. Mikey (Jacob’s older brother) was a captain for us. They just scrap and they just work hard. They’re not going to ever quit. They’re not going to give it to you. You’re going to have to earn it.”

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There was some consternation in Montville when promising quarterback Owen George chose to attend the Science and Technology Magnet High School and play in New London. And yet the Indians might have discovered a pretty darn good sophomore quarterback in Ryan Douchette.

Douchette threw for 218 yards and three scores, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Indians defeated Waterford, 26-23. Douchette threw touchdown passes to Greg Clark (twice) and Nick Tibbetts.

Douchette also ran the ball several times, indicating he’ll be a future dual-threat quarterback.

“We saw the way they were defending us,” Montville coach Tanner Grove said. “They were basically daring Ryan to throw the ball. He grew up tonight.”

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There are teams that become synonymous with their offense.

Ledyard was known for its wing-T during Bill Mignault’s long tenure. Ditto Windham, which ran it under former coach Brian Crudden and continues to use it in Randall Prose’s second season in charge.

Any football fan around southeastern Connecticut knows that Stonington runs the double wing (i.e. GOD’S OFFENSE), a system made famous by Fitch during its very successful run under former coach Mike Emery.

It was a bit jarring, then, to see Stonington begin last Thursday’s game against Bacon Academy lined up in a spread formation and throwing on its first six plays.

The Bears stuck with that approach for the majority of its 13-7 loss and occasionally went back to the double wing.

Stonington (2-6) attempted 20 passes. To put that in perspective, it had thrown just 61 times in its first seven games.

“It’s something we’ve done (before),” Bears head coach A.J. Massengale said. “That team (Bacon) probably freaking weighs twice as much as us, know what I mean? It’s one of those things where we wanted to be able to try to find a way to offset certain advantages they may have and do some things that we could do that we don’t always go to. We felt like it was a good week for that.”

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For your planning purposes, YOUR Week 11 schedule (all games 6:30 p.m. except where noted): Plainfield (6-2) at Waterford (0-8), Thursday, 6 p.m.; Windham (2-6) at Fitch (8-0); Norwich Free Academy (5-3) at Windsor (8-0); Thames River (4-4) at Stonington (2-6); Valley Regional/Old Lyme (8-1, 6-1 Pequot League Sassacus Division) at Haddam-Killingworth (6-3, 5-2), Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Remember — the majority of the state goes on a bye the week before Thanksgrabbing (there are just 18 games).

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Muchas gracias to Mike DiMauro (Waterford-Montville, and Fitch-East Lyme) for his contribution to this here blog.

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Thanks for reading. More soon.



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