Montville runs over Stonington 28-7 in morale-boosting win

Montville — If the season opener is a good barometer, the Montville football team has plenty of reason to be optimistic about the fall.

The Indians gradually hit their stride and seized control on Friday night.

After falling behind on the game's opening drive, Montville scored four straight touchdowns to beat Stonington, 28-7.

Starting off with a victory holds added significance for a team that's coming off a 2-8 season.

"You want to win ball games," Montville coach Tanner Grove said. "It really helps with the morale of all the players. Getting the first one after 30 days of preseason is always great. But we've got some things to clean up and we've got some things that we've got to work on.

"But this group of kids really worked hard to get out of the gate quickly. To get this first win of the season is really a testament to their hard work."

Montville dominated on both sides of the line. Four different players rushed for touchdowns, including junior quarterback Ryan Douchette (one yard), junior Frank Cook (seven), senior Dominic Emmons (13) and junior Jayden Long (15).

A determined Cook scored the go-ahead touchdown with four minutes, 48 seconds left, in the second quarter, capping a 95-yard march — all on the ground — with a seven-yard run. He piled up 32 of his game-high 94 yards in the possession.

"I was a sophomore last year and I had a rough beginning," said Cook, who suffered a concussion last season. "I'm out here to get better and get stronger. I'm here to be the best."

Stonington, which returned a very young team, shot out of the starting blocks. The Bears, with help from two Montville penalties, marched down the field on their first trip, completing a 68-yard scoring drive. Junior Josh Curtin busted free around the right side and fought his way into the end zone for a 23-yard score and a quick 7-0 lead.

"It was great to start a season off like that," Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. "It was excellent."

The Bears sputtered from there and hurt themselves with penalties, including a few that negated some long gains.

The Indians made some adjustments on their defensive line and started to dominate the line of scrimmage. They applied pressure in the backfield and racked up four sacks.

"We settled in a little bit," Grove said. "It could have been some nerves perhaps or just a couple of mental things early. Once we started to run and hit, we were okay."

Stonington will have to deal with some growing pains this season. The Bears are inexperienced but can rely on veterans like Curtin and senior Riley Burnside to provide leadership.

"We're playing a lot of kids and they played hard," Massengale said. "We're building currency. Every time those guys play, they're getting something out of it. We have freshmen playing. And we have great senior leadership for those younger guys."

g.keefe@theday.com

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