Montville wins for the first time in 1,077 days
Montville – What was learned Friday night: Nobody – but nobody – beats Montville High School 1,078 days in a row.
Indeed, some history was made in The Ville Friday night, the first football victory since Oct. 4, 2019, a span of 1,077 days. And after nearly three years of COVID, controversy, confusion and conflict, there was the scoreboard on the home field: Montville 38, Bacon Academy 28.
“It’s been a long time,” Montville coach Tanner Grove said, not long after his victory speech was cut a little short by his players who began jumping around and mobbing their coach in jubilation.
“This is a different feeling,” Grove said. “One of the things I never appreciated in my first 10 years here when a lot of things went well was how hard it is to win a game. But boy, I do now.”
Montville, which snapped a 17-game losing streak, didn’t merely win this game, but might have set some school passing and receiving records. Quarterback Tyler Ladia, a converted lineman, finished 17-for-22 for 336 yards and six touchdowns, five of which went to Isaiah Balancier, who had 275 receiving yards.
“I am so happy right now,” Balancier said. “First win in a mad, long time.”
Balancier caught touchdown passes of 67, 7, 42, 77 and 33 yards. And the last two came with Bacon stubbornly staying close.
“One of the things I’ve learned is to play to your strengths,” Grove said. “We have two receivers (Balancier and Anthony Barbuto, who caught the other scoring pass) who can go get it. Tyler asked me as a ninth grader whether he could move from lineman to quarterback. He’s worked on his body. Now here he is with one of the great games in our history.”
Balancier was actually Ladia’s quarterback in youth football. Ladia was the center. And now Ladia looks the quarterback part, using poise, patience and protection from his line to a near perfect night.
Montville also made game-changing plays on defense. Jack Bubucis stuffed Bacon’s Aidan Fritz at the goal line on the final play of the first half and linebacker Will Klinefelter forced and recovered a fumble that led to a third-quarter touchdown.
“Will and Jack are a testament to what we’re trying to do here,” Grove said. “Both are excellent in the classroom and on the field, they do it the right way.”
Bacon’s Colin Olbrias returned the opening kickoff of the second half 78 yards to bring the Bobcats within a point at 14-13. Later, they closed it to 26-20 on Julian Rodegher’s short touchdown run.