Raiders roll Crosby, 50-31 on the gridiron. Rodriguez teaches and it pays off.
TORRINGTON: Sophomore cornerback Dylan Myrie had just been beaten badly on a 40-yard touchdown pass, late in the third quarter of the Torrington Raiders eventual 50-31 win over visiting Crosby.
As the sophomore came to the sidelines, his head coach, Gaitan Rodriguez, met him on the field, put his hands on both sides of the young man’s helmet, smiled and had a positive conversation about what had just happened.
No yelling, heck the kid knew what he did wrong, why would any coach have to remind him by screaming, something we see too often in high school football at times.
Torrington was still up 42-19 at the time of the score but the head coach didn’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of a teachable moment by dolling out some serious positive motivation.
It paid off big time on the ensuing kickoff when Myrie, playing up some as he expected an on-side kick from the Bulldogs, took the kick at his own 27 yard line, cut left, found a hole and was gone on a 73-yard scamper that put the Raiders up 48-19 and his confidence sky high.
As the 10th grader made his way towards the end zone, there was Rodriguez, showing some of the speed that made him a legend in his days on the Raider football team as he made his way down the field, fists a bumping.
It’s why the third year coach is simply the right man for the job at Torrington High School right now.
Sure, wins and losses are important but building character and good young men has always been what Rodriguez is all about.
In their home and season opener, the Raiders racked up over 400 total yards of offense after getting away from one offensive set up ad moving to another.
Crosby (0-1) had come out and scored on an 80-yard, 14-play drive that resulted in a one yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike Marshall and a 7-0 lead.
The Raiders got on the board on their first possession but it was fast, a trend that would continue throughout the game.
On a third and six from the Crosby 44, senior quarterback Connor Finn (8-13-146) found sophomore Jordan Henneberry down the left side for pay dirt.
Neither offense got much going until the Raiders went away from the traditional offensive set they started with (one back behind Finn, three wide outs) and brought in a formation they call “Monster”.
The monster paid immediate dividends when senior Tyler Marens took the hand-off from Finn in a formation that looks a lot like the single-wing. Two backs on the edge of the formation, angled in towards the quarterback with one normally in motion and in line to get a pitch.
Marens made his way behind a very tough offensive line that makes it tough for defenders to find the runner until it’s sometimes too late, as it was in this case and 72-yards later, Torrington had a lead they would not give back.
The next time the home team touched the ball, it took but two plays for them to score, this time on a 65-yard yard run by Newton Frias that started with nothing and ended in the end zone.
Frias did a terrific job of waiting for his line to push the defenders back, rode up their backs and then out of the pile and off to the races.
Marens added a pick-six from 38-yards out on the next Crosby possession and after turning the Bulldogs over on downs the next time they got the ball, Finn connected with Nate Bresson, who rumbled 45-yards for a score.
Bresson would leave the game after that play though, not with an injury but with severe leg cramps that were very tough to control.
Ignacio Reynoso got into the act with a 66-yard touchdown run late in the third as the Raiders then brought in the junior varsity to finish up.
A good start, but as coach Rodriguez said on the sidelines during the game, “We have a lot to clean up.”
Torrington will be on the road next week as they travel to Beacon Falls to face Woodland.
Teachable moments, they pay off. Just ask Myrie.