Fitch grinds way past Ledyard but misses out on playoff berth
Ledyard — It was a half-kidding question to Fitch High coach Mike Ellis, the one about whether he considered celebrating with the Colonel Ledyard Sword early Thanksgiving afternoon or stabbing himself with it.
"Considered it several times," Ellis said through a wry grin.
It was a long, torturous — but finally celebratory — day for the Falcons, who needed a safety with 5:47 remaining to snap a scoreless tie and finally outlast Ledyard, 9-0, at Bill Mignault Field.
Fitch (8-2) brought home The Sword, but not a playoff berth. Results across the state from Wednesday and Thursday ran afoul of Fitch and its chances, leaving the Falcons with the sword, a division title and an perfectly good record, save losses to playoff teams New Fairfield and Fairfield Prep.
"We were in control of whether we made the playoffs," Ellis said. "Look, we weren't going to beat Fairfield Prep. They were better. But we had a chance to beat New Fairfield and it was our own issues that got in the way. We beat them and we're 9-1 and going.
"You can talk about tech schools and the playoff system, but the bottom line it we didn't take advantage of the opportunity."
The same could (almost) have been said about Thursday. Fitch had trouble moving the ball against Ledyard's defense and interior linemen Marlin Santagata, Ben Rusczyk and Josh Knight, who stuffed Fitch's run game. The Falcons were also awash in penalties and turnovers, giving Ledyard (6-4) a glimmer, despite not having injured sophomore Ryan Outlow, its leading rusher.
Fitch senior Eli Shelton, battling nagging injuries to both of his hands, threw quarterback Justin Outlow for a loss on third down with a little more than six minutes remaining in a scoreless game, forcing a punt.
The snap sailed over punter Jonah Eddy and bounced into the end zone, giving Fitch a 2-0 lead. Ben Perry's touchdown plunge with under a minute left sealed it.
"Ledyard played well," Ellis said. "The interior of their line was a problem. It's the first time in a while our offensive line had trouble blocking. Mike (first-year coach Mike Serricchio) is doing a nice job there."
Thomas Williams, who had a combined 421 rushing yards in Fitch's previous two games, finished with 81.
"I'm extremely proud of the kids," Serricchio said. "They played so hard. We went toe to toe with a very good team at a very big school."
Shelton, named Fitch's Player of the Game (Jackson Poulton won it for Ledyard) spent some time processing the emotions of a long season.
"It was still a good season. But we feel a little bit let down not making the playoffs," he said. "Things happen. I think I'm going to feel it a lot more when I take these pads off for the last time. But I'm very happy I went out like this with my brothers."
Fitch football earns Battle of the Sword against Ledyard
Ledyard — Fitch takes a 9-0 win over Ledyard to earn the annual Thanksgiving Day Battle of the Sword football game Thursday, November 25, 2021 at Ledyard High School.