Raiders trounce Indians, 52-21. Home Class L playoff game on tap Tuesday.
WATERTOWN: It’s here.
The second season.
Not words we have gotten used to saying here in the Northwest Corner.
The Torrington football team didn’t play their last game on Thursday when they trounced Watertown by a 52-21 final on a warm Thanksgiving Day that could not have been any different than from a year ago in so many ways.
In 2014, the Raiders beat the Indians by a 55-43 score two days after Turkey Day, thanks to a major snow event that pushed things back to Saturday, to finish the campaign 5-6.
Flash forward to this year and understand how far the Raiders have come in just three years under the leadership of head coach Gaitan Rodrigiuez and his coaching staff who just capped off a year that saw them win nine of 10 times they took the field.
To further illustrate how far the team has come, those of us who have watched them since day one in late August where not just looking at what worked in the Thanksgiving Day win that increased the Torrington lead in the all-time series to 26-23-1 but what they need to clean up before playing December football.
This is the day that we put football to bed around here, unless you are talking about the team north of Torrington, Gilbert/Northwestern, who made trips to the promise land twice in the last five years.
Otherwise, football is out of our minds once the mashed potatoes and gravy have blended with the main course.
Not this year. With the win, Torrington earned not just the right to keep The Helmet up in Raider country for another year but with some help on a crazy Thanksgiving Day of football around the area, earned the biggest and most surprising gift of all; a home game in the states.
While the official word will not come down until the CIAC meets to set the schedule on Friday morning, by finishing ranked fourth in Class L, Torrington is one of four teams that get the right to host quarterfinal games.
Coming into action on Wednesday night, it looked as if the Raiders might get defending Class L champ, Windsor before they demolished Middletown, moving Windsor up to the third spot and Middletown down to the eighth and final spot.
On Thursday morning, Class LL power Darien (9-0) beat New Canaan (8-1) by a 28-21 final, dropping New Canaan to sixth in Class L.
Wethersfield, whose only loss was to Windsor (21-14) moved up to the fifth spot with an identical 9-1 mark, just like Torrington.
The tie-breakers all go in favor of the Raiders who will continue this ride at least one more week, or should we say five more days with the short preparation week.
On Thursday, a game that saw the visitors jump out to a 14-0 lead on a Newton Frias 2 yard run and a 54-yard screen pass from Connor Finn to Zack Mancini, the offensive numbers were of course gaudy.
The Indians are still in a rebuilding year and will get their sooner rather than later under head coach Luigi Velardi so the outcome could not be called a surprise, but the score could have been.
Frias scored on runs of 45 and 70 to go with the 2-yard push early while Nate Bresson and Connor Finn connected twice on throws of 42 and 32-yards respectively.
Finn added a five yard score in the third quarter before the junior varsity went in but still cracked the goal line on a 75-yard run by Dylan Myrie.
Torrington piled up nearly 500 yards of total offense with Finn throwing for 195 on a 9 for 14 morning.
The combination of two players who have played together for the longest time, Finn and Bresson is one of the key weapons the Raiders will need as they move on.
Frias has had a fantastic senior year and is a huge weapon in the backfield but count on teams at the next level to work to try and stop as many threats as they can.
Now to the concerning portion of the game on Thursday.
In their only loss of the year, a 54-14 loss at the hands of the Ansonia Chargers, many a weakness was exposed on the Torrington defensive side. Mainly on containing the outside run.
The Indians ran for just 138 yards on the ground but a majority of those yards came on runs to the outside where they got outside contain.
This is the area that the Raiders miss senior Tyler Marens, who was the best contain defender Torrington had before a season ending injury cut his season short earlier this year.
Scouts for many teams were on hand on Thursday and count on them to have picked up on that trend, one the Raiders will need to get cleaned up in a hurry.
That and having touchdowns called back because of penalties, specifically holding calls that have negated over a dozen scores this year, three were called back on Thursday morning alone.
So while the Raiders and their fan base should soak all this in, this 9-1 stuff that doesn’t come along very often, they should also understand that it will take a near perfect effort to get by a Wethersfield team that is tough and battle tested coming into Torrington.
It just shows that the bar has been raised here in Torrington, just getting there is not enough. Happy to be here will not cut it.
Playing their best, mistake free football is what this situation calls for.
If they do that, the Raiders, win or lose will know they gave it their all.