A suprising defensive effort and clutch offensive plays lead
WINSTED: It was Friday night, less than twenty-four hours before the “GN” football team was scheduled to open their 2018 campaign and head coach Scott Salius and his staff were still in the process of trying to figure out a defensive scheme that would work against a team that had handed their team bad losses in each of their last two meeting.
“GN”, the co-op of The Gilbert School and Northwestern Regional, were to take on Old Saybrook/Westbrook on Saturday on the road and the question of how to get by a team that had beaten them up physically their previous two meetings was still up for debate.
“We had no idea what to expect,” Salius said. “Especially on defense where we ended up switching everything we were going to do at about five o’clock Friday night. They had beaten us up pretty good the past two years and we knew it would be a very physical game.”
Two years ago, OSW ended any chances “GN” had at a playoff game by knocking them off in the next to the last week by a 35-7 score. The loss, the teams second, was a tough one and put a damper on an otherwise tremendous 8-2 campaign.
A year ago, in a 5-5 season, it was OSW who started the season with a 49-14 blowout in Winsted, setting the tone for a tough year so starting the year again against a team that had their way with the ‘Jackets was a significant challenge.
One the team took to heart and scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to come away with a 20-7 win on the road.
Midway into the fourth quarter, the home team held a 7-6 advantage before the visitors struck twice in the eight-minute quarter after pounding the ball on the ground all game.
“GN” passed only six times (senior Eric Lissy was 1-6)
“We took what they gave us,” Salius said. “We took things a couple yards at a time before we broke a couple for touchdowns. Chase Sanden broke one with the help of some great downfield blocking that left him untouched down the sidelines for the touchdown.”
It was truly a team play, according to their head coach.
“I told the kids that it was an 11-man play,” Salius said. “Everybody did their assignments. We were 20-yards downfield sealing guys off to give him the angle for the touchdown.”
The scored that put things away was pure “GN” football.
“The last touchdown was scored by Alex Smith.” Salius explained. “We just lined up in our compact, tight formation and blasted right up the middle on them. 11 bodies on 11 bodies and Alex kept his legs pumping and all of the sudden he popped out of the 22-man pile was untouched the rest of the way to the end-zone.”
Defense has always been a staple of “GN” football and this effort was such a pleasant surprise for Salius and his coaches, considering they had no idea what to expect.
“They did what we asked them to do,” Salius said. “We didn’t know they had it in them, but they did. You can’t get a great look in practice like you can in a game because it’s hard to get game speed during practice.”
“GN” stays on the road this week as they travel to take on Rockvile, who lost their season opener by a 35-21 score against Cromwell in week one.
The Yellowjackets got the upper hand a year ago in a 28-16 final at home.