Raiders, Indians provide Thanksgiving Day surprise
Raiders, Indians provide Thanksgiving surprise
What happened? Where has this been all season?
First question to the Torrington High football team. Second question for the Watertown Indians.
We’ve had a couple of days now to digest what went down Thanksgiving Day and to a degree it still registers as a stunning surprise. I don’t think anybody saw Watertown’s 18-13 victory in their crystal ball and that includes the Indians.
I’ll take my pie in the face. I had seen both teams and predicted Torrington, 49-14. I didn’t see Watertown matching up. Too much Brenden Lytton and just a better overall Red Raider team.
Heck, Torrington was one bad half away from its only loss being to Ansonia and everybody loses to Ansonia. At least so far. The Raiders were scoring more points than the Farleigh Dickinson women’s basketball team will score all season
The Raiders threw an 80-spot on the board against St. Paul. They rang the register for 66 points against Wolcott, a state playoff team. They led the NVL and state scoring, averaging 48 points a game.
And of course there was Lytton. Only Ansonia had managed to `hold’ Lytton down, limiting him to a very pedestrian 137 yards on the night. Lytton is one of the state’s all-time greats, racking up about 4,800 yards the last two seasons and ending his senior campaign with 2, 453 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Who would have thought Watertown, a team that entered the game with a 3-6 record, was going to be able to handle all that. I know funny things happen in rivalries and many of us were to be reminded later, but this game had blowout written all over it.
I had seen Watertown against Derby and they came out on the short end of a 41-0 blitz. They were not good on either side of the ball. A bad night for sure, but the record indicated a team that wasn’t very good.
Everything pointed to a big Torrington Day. Then they played the game and the day had a big black and orange glow to it. Torrington’s day was very long one.
First of all, take a bow coach Mike Veronneau and crew. Watertown’s defense was immense. There was some bending between the 30 yard-lines during the game, but other than that they stuffed the Torrington attack like no one has been able to all season.
No offensive touchdowns to a team that has rings up points like a pin ball machine? Linebackers D.J. Ouellette and Ryan Milo were just a couple forces that that created havoc for Torrington’s vaunted running attack.
Torrington managed just 39 rushing yards in the second half. You want big plays? How about Milo bursting in the backfield on Torrington’s second-and-goal from the 7-yard line midway thgrough the final quarter with the outcome in the balance and dropping Lytton for a three-yard loss.
On fourth down, it was Eric Ford who jumped how to bat down a potential winning TD catch by Lytton in the corner of the end zone. Torrington had no answers for the Watertown defense all game.
And the job done on Lytton was off the charts. All game long you expected the brilliant back to break one. You knew Watertown couldn’t continue to contain him. At halftime Lytton had picked up 86 yards on 20 carries. Hard-earned yards. Yards with rug burns to show for them from the John Mills carpet.
But, the big blow never came. Watertown never tired. Lytton kept running through the tunnel but never found the daylight that he has owned for the last two years.
Watertown underestimated what it had done when the game ended with Lytton `held’ to 120 yards. The Indians talked about knowing Torrington just ran the ball and how they had been good against the run all season.
Not good enough guys, you deserve more credit than that. Nobody has held Lytton to these kinds of numbers in two seasons. No scores, no run over 13 yards. Less than four yards per carry. Watertown defense take another bow.
In order to appreciate Watertown’s effort, you need to appreciate Lytton. There was a time when 120 yards would have meant Player of the Game honors. We talk about Lytton being `held’ down. That’s a credit to him and how astronomically high he has set the bar.
Lytton also left the fans with one final look at his diversity which goes far beyond running a football. He caught a pass for 25 yards and nearly grabbed the game-winning toss that Ford knocked down.
On the defensive end he picked off a pass and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown. There is a reason he is one of `all-timers’ and one of the best in the state. Watertown’s effort was so impressive because Lytton is so impressive.
It wasn’t all Watertown’s defense, however. The Indians have a mighty-mite in Anthony Avoletta. The little speedster broke off touchdown runs of 59 and 40 yards in the second half, bolting up the middle like he had seen an oasis in the middle of the desert.
Avoletta rushed for 138 yards. In the second half. He finished with 166 yards and three scores. It was a great ending for a senior on his home field.
Nobody saw it coming. But that’s part of what makes a great rivalry isn’t it? The day started with everything pointing to Torrington. The day ended with everything belonging to Watertown.