Raiders football now 2-1 after 36-14 drubbing of Wolcott.
TORRINGTON: As he spoke to his team in the huddle after their opening day 18-8 loss to Woodland three weeks ago, Torrington head football coach Gaitan Rodriguez told his troops that he felt they were going to be a “Very dangerous team” in 2019 after putting a scare in the Hawks.
Two years ago, Wolcott came to Torrington on Senior Night in November and beat the Raiders by a final of 88-22 in one of the worst cases of unsportsmanlike conduct by a head coach who had his team throwing in the second half while up by 30-points.
Take those two factors, a potentially dangerous team with a coaching staff that remembers what happened the last time the two teams met at the Robert H Frost and well, you got Friday night.
The Raiders scored 24 unanswered points in the second half on their way to a 36-14 drubbing of the Eagles to move their record out to 2-1.
Consider game one, that loss to Woodland that easily could have been a “W” and look who is knocking the Naugatuck Valley League around at the moment.
The Eagles were big. 6’2”, 300 pounds big at one spot on the line and in the early stages, it was rough sledding for Torrington but true to what their head coach says about them, they just keep fighting.
Torrington punched hard on the first play from scrimmage when quarterback Conrad Avallone pitched the ball to back Jacob Coleman who ran the pass option to perfection, finding a wide- open Isaiah Hammonds for a 71-yard touchdown pass, just 13 seconds in.
What do teams expect the Raiders to do? The running game has been their strength to date so the play call of a pass on first down kind of set the stage for the night.
Wolcott would answer with a 19-yard run by quarterback Michael Greene on their third possession of the game and we were tied at 6 with both teams misses the extra point attempts.
The home team would go back up on a critical and clutch fourth down conversion when Avallone found Hammonds on a 26-yard touchdown pass with just over three minutes left in the half.
“I told Conrad I would be open,” Hammonds said. “I knew I could beat my man.”
On their first possession of the second half, the Eagles came out firing, driving 85-yards in nine plays with 71 of those coming from running back Joseph Fontano who took it in from four yards out.
His two-point conversion made it 14-12 Wolcott and after a Raiders drive went three and out, the home team needed a big play and got one from Logan Kovall who sacked Greene and helped the drive stall.
The Raiders go the ball on their own forty and proceeded to convert on another fourth-down play, this time with Avallone finding Rangel Pascual on a 27-yarder that with the conversion, put Torrington up 20-14.
Fresh off a long running game driven possession the drive before, the Eagles looked to do the same when they took over but Talbot lost the handle on the ball which, after bouncing around the field for some time, was recovered by Sean Clinkscales, his second fumble recovery of the day.
It didn’t take long for the Raiders to take advantage of the miscue when Coleman took a second down play 61-yards to pay dirt and a 28-14 lead after punching in the conversion try.
The Eagles were stunned and after their next drive went three and out, watched as Avallone put the nail in the coffin with a 51-yard touchdown down the right sideline.
What is it about this team that doesn’t let them give up?
“These guys have grit,” Rodriguez said. “I really believe that it is a mentality that this offense has brought that we keep fighting.”
So, at 2-1, the Raiders are establishing a mentality that does not let them lose faith and Rodriguez knows why.
“There’s a bunch of fighters in that locker room,” Rodriguez said. “They just never give up.”
Avallone would finish the night with one rushing and two passing scores while Coleman scored on the long run and completed the long touchdown pass to Hammonds who had himself some kind of night with his two receiving scores.
The Raiders finished with 355 yards on offense, 231 on the ground and 124 in the air, a nice balance.
Torrington 36, Wolcott 14
Wolcott 6 0 8 0 14
Torrington 6 6 8 16 36
(T) Isaiah Hammonds 71 pass from Jacob Coleman (Kick Failed)
(W) Michael Greene 19 run (Kick Failed)
Hammonds 26 pass from Conrad Avallone (Run Failed)
(W) Joseph Fontano 4 run (Talbot run)
(T) Rangel Pascual 27 pass from Avallone (Exodus Rosado run)
(T) Coleman 61 run (Coleman run)
(T) Avallone 51 run (Avallone run)
Records: Wolcott 1-2, Torrington 2-1.