Gilbert/Northwestern football improves to 7-1. Nearing playoff berth.
WINSTED: Playing football in December is starting to be an expectation for a team that has been there twice in the last six years and is two wins away from potentially playing after this year’s turkey dinner has been digested.
The “GN” football team rolled over visiting Haddam-Killingworth by a 33-0 final on Saturday at Van Why Field, a place that is getting used to a high level of football excellence.
Billy Komons, just a junior, is starting to leave a footprint of success on the program and on Saturday, ran for 170 yards and a pair of scores while the Yellowjackets defense pitched a shutout, turning the Cougars over on downs three times and coming away with an interception.
Head coach Scott Salius and his talented coaching staff has created a culture of winning that is becoming the norm and the team’s overall record during his time speaks to that fact.
Seven out of the nine seasons that Salius has been at the helm, the Yellowjackets have reached the seven win mark, an outstanding accomplishment.
“Our goal has always been a winning record,” Salius said. “But whenever you get to that seven win plateau, that’s more than a winning record. You have won a majority of your games. We put ourselves in this position that if we win these next two game, or at least one out of two games, we may go to the playoffs.”
Playoffs. A foreign word no more for the team that combines the best players from Gilbert and Northwestern High School who can make their third appearance in the Salius era if they win out with wins over a tough Old Saybrook team on the road next week and against Waterbury Career on Thanksgiving Day at home.
A loss might not put them out of the top eight in Class M that make the post season but would take control of their own destiny out of their own hands.
In their only loss of the year, “GN” traveled to take on Stafford and it didn’t go well early and only got worse. What needs to change on Saturday on the road?
“We have to come off the ball and play better,” Salius said. “We gave up a touchdown on the first play then a bad special team’s punt gave them the ball on our one yard line. We were down 14-0 right off the bat. We’re not a team that going to come back, against the good teams, from down 14-0.”
Next Saturday at noon, they travel to take on a team that the head coach has a good feel for what they are going to bring to the gridiron.
“One thing we know is that Old Saybrook doesn’t pass much,” Salius said. “They play smash-mouth in your face football. I’d rather face that kind of grind it out team than a spread team that likes to go up and down the field.”
In the loss to Stafford the ‘Jackets held the home team to almost no yards rushing but the Bulldogs broke the 300-yard passing mark in the win.
Against the Cougars this day, three things stuck out.
The running of Komons, the running of the fullbacks and the defense.
Teams have come to expect the junior standout coming at them but the play of both Todd Holm (2 carries, 13-yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run) and Jake Roth (7 carries, 51 yards) gives an opponent so much more to think about.
“The fullback were terrific today,” Salius said. “Between Jake Roth and Todd Holm, if we can establish a second back like that, I mean that just helps us out tremendously.”
Holm opened the scoring after the defense gave them the ball on downs at their own 32 where they put together a seven play, 68-yard drive capped by the fullback run around the left end.
Komons scored from a yard out early in the second quarter and Brad Lissy (4-9-116) connected with EJ Claman from eight yards out for a 20-0 lead at the half.
Komons would find pay-dirt again after another stop on fourth down by the defense led to a short field drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run.
Down 26-0, the visitors needed to try and make something happen but the stubborn “GN” defense was having none of it and gave the ball back to the offense four plays later.
On their final score, you knew it was the home team’s day when the breaks and tips went their way, as they did on a 65-yard touchdown that started with a Lissy pass that was tipped near the line of scrimmage by Komons and found its way into the hands of Bossi for the long score.
“Bosse was running a hitch on the outside while Komons was running corner post over the top,” Salius said. “Komons tipped it and Bosse had the wherewithal to turn around and pay attention and be in the right place, it worked out. We’ll take a little luck.”
The last time the ‘jackets played December football was in 2013 with a squad with a much different make up than the 2016 team.
“The last playoff team,” Salius said. “We had Tony Ortiz and John Lippincott. John was the field general and Tony was just a natural talent. Here I think we have to work a little harder, we can’t just give it to somebody and expect them to win the game or just leave it all out on the field for John to take care of. Here, we need more repetition in practice, trying to get these kids up to speed on what they’re doing and it’s more of a team concept. We need everybody.”
So far this season with the exception of one game, everybody has done what it takes to get their program back to that seven win mark with higher hopes on the horizon.
Saturday at noon in Old Saybrook. The next big test for ‘GN” football.
GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN 33, HADDAM-KILLINGWORTH 0
At Van Why Field
HK 0 0 0 0 0
GN 7 13 13 0 33
(GN) Todd Holm 10 run (Christopher Nanni kick)
(GN) Billy Komons 1 run (kick failed)
(GN) EJ Claman 8 pass from Brad Lissy (Nanni kick)
(GN) Komons 11 run (kick failed)
(GN) Colton Bossi 65 pass from Lissy (Nanni kick)
(HK) Jonathan Grasso 3-14. Trevor Brochu 23-127, Jake Frith 7-32. (GN) Komons 25-170, Jake Roth 7-51, Holm 2-13, Liam Duran 1-12, Gabriel Schwartz 1-4, Zachary McLellan 1-5.
(HK) Grasso 5-14-62, Brochu 0-2-0. (GN) Lissy 4-9-116, Eric Lissy 1-1-42
(HK) Brochu 4-54. (GN) Bossi 3-108, Claman 1-8, Jeffrey Bunch 1-42
Records: (HK) 3-5, (GN) 7-1.