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    Tuesday, November 28, 2023

    Woodstock routs Ledyard to win its first ECC football title

    Woodstock — Sean Saucier heard the snickers back in December 2016 when he left Hyde School to be the head football coach at Woodstock Academy, a program that had all the winning tradition of a can of SPAM.

    Woodstock senior Ethan Davis believed other teams thought the Centaurs were a joke.

    Woodstock proved once again on a beautiful fall Saturday that it’s legit this season. The Centaurs dominated Ledyard and rolled to a 42-8 win to clinch the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title, the first title in program history.

    Look who’s laughing now.

    “It’s crazy,” Davis said. “Woodstock has always been the lowest of the low in the ECC and the state and it feels great to win with my group of friends.”

    The Centaurs (7-2, 4-0) join Fitch (Division I) and Killingly (Division III) as the ECC’s champions.

    Saucier, a Putnam native, played center for the Clippers alongside tackle Chad Neal, Killingly’s head coach. Woodstock plays at Killingly (8-0) on Thanksgiving Day with a chance at a CIAC Class L playoff berth.

    “It’s unbelievable,” Saucier said as Centaur players, parents and fans celebrated on the field behind him. “I can’t even comprehend it right now. We just won the division title. There were literally people that laughed at me when I took the job. It’s satisfying.”

    Davis completed 12 of 19 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns and ran 16 times for 260 yards and three scores.

    It was the worst loss of the season for the Colonels (6-3, 2-2) and likely a costly one as their odds at making states are slim. It’s in Class S, traditionally the hardest division to qualify with three losses. Just five teams have qualified in Class S with three-or-more losses over the past 10 seasons.

    “They’re a great football team,” Ledyard head coach Mike Serricchio said. “(They’re) big, physical. They’ve got some guys who can run, and their staff did a great job scheming us up.

    “All credit goes to them. We have to figure out how to get our kids better prepared to play a football game.”

    The Colonels host Fitch on Thanksgiving.

    Davis threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Carter Saracina, a junior, on Woodstock's first drive.

    The Centaurs then used a sequence of crazy plays like a teen playing the "Madden NFL" video game while hopped up on caffeine — they faked the extra point with senior Jackson Goetz flipping the ball to junior Payton Barna for a 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead with 6:53 left in the first quarter.

    Woodstock was just getting started as it squibbed the ensuing kickoff. Centaurs junior David Bunning recovered the ball at the Ledyard 47-yard line.

    Junior Braiden Saucier took the direct snap at quarterback on the next play, threw a lateral to Davis, who threw downfield an open Saracina for a 53-yard touchdown pass and a 15-0 lead.

    “They sure did (surprise us),” Serricchio said. “That’s on me.”

    Ledyard sophomore Jonah Eddy gave his team the short field with an interception return down to the Centaurs’ 18. It set up an 8-yard touchdown run by James Green, who also ran for the conversion to cut the Colonels’ deficit to 15-8 with 4:35 left in the half.

    Green ran 24 times for 157 yards.

    Woodstock responded in six plays with Davis punching it in from a 1-yard line to give his team a 23-8 lead with 2:18 remaining in the quarter.

    Davis scored on runs of 6, 85 and 25 yards in the fourth quarter.

    “We proved it this year,” Davis said.


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