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    Wednesday, August 10, 2022

    Montville falls to Windham in finale

    Tyler Price of Montville, left, intercepts a pass intended for Windham's Cullan Contos, right, in the first half of Wednesday night's game at Willimantic. Windham won 34-13. (Tim Martin/The Day)

    Willimantic — There’s nothing really fancy about the way the Windham football teams runs its offense. As Montville coach Tanner Grove respectfully put it, “there’s a lot of window dressing, but it’s basically the same five or six running plays. And a lot of times, that’s all they need to be successful.”

    That was indeed the case Wednesday night as the Whippets rushed for 320 yards — 239 of those in the second half — on their way to a 34-13 win over the Indians.

    The game was overshadowed by a brawl between the two teams as they went through the postgame handshake line.

    “I’ve never had anything like it happen,” Windham coach Brian Crudden said. “Totally ridiculous.”

    Said Grove: “We have to take a look at it but it appeared that a couple of kids on their team who had personal fouls during the game instigated some things at the end. But we have to take a look. And like I told Coach Crudden, the rest of his team did an excellent job of just playing football.”

    As for the game, most of the damage was done by senior back Seiji Arzuaga, who carried 18 times for 140 mostly bruising yards and three touchdowns.

    “He’s a really good fullback,” Grove said. “They’ve won eight games now on his back.

    “They just wear on you with him. He’s an excellent football player. We’re coming off a short week and threw everything we had at him for about three quarters. And then he just wears you down. He’s a tough-willed runner.”

    Arzuaga’s second touchdown, a 22-yard run midway through the second quarter, proved Grove’s point. He burst through the line, past the linebackers and into the secondary, where a Montville defender grabbed a hold of his shirt around the 5-yard line. Arzuaga simply kept running, literally dragging the defender into the end zone with him. That score gave the Whippets (8-2, 5-1 ECC Small) an 18-7 lead.

    The Indians (5-5, 2-4) answered quickly though, going 63 yards in just four plays. Austin Glidden ran for 11, threw for 28 on a halfback pass, ran for 19, then finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run. Montville missed the extra point, then was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing a non-call on the play.

    The ensuing kickoff from deep in their own end was returned into Montville territory. On the Whippets’ second play, Arzuaga went 37 yards for a touchdown and 26-13 lead.

    Arzuaga did the bulk of the work on the next drive as well. His 21-yard run, during which he lowered his pads and flattened a would-be tackler then carried two more Indians to the 10-yard line, set up Brody Labbe’s short touchdown a few plays later.

    “If I run them over,” said Arzuaga — who worked on the speed part of his game by running sprints for the Windham track team in the spring, “and I don’t go down, I’d rather run over somebody (than run by them). It looks more flashy.”

    Montville’s first score came on a five-yard run from Glidden, who finished with 161 yards and two touchdowns.

    The Indians had higher hopes for this season than what they ended up with. But that can happen when your starting quarterback withdraws from the school two days before the start of the season.

    "The thing we can hang our hat on," Grove said, "is that we were resilient. All the adversity these kids faced, two days before we open the season, they could have easily packed it in and said 'Forget it.' They didn't. They showed up for 10 games and fought and gave all their effort every time. I'm proud of my kids."

    Christian Davis of Montville (55) beats Windham's Andrew Gonzalez, right, to a fumble in the first half of Wednesday night's game at Willimantic. Montville's Austin Glidden (23) trails the play. (Tim Martin/The Day)

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