Torrington football rises up. Well done Raiders, well done.
TORRINGTON: It was only fitting that Zach Sweeney was the Torrington football player who perfectly summed up what Raider football under head coach Gaitan Rodriguez stand for.
“Here at THS football,” Sweeney said, “We care more about how you come out the program than the wins and losses. We care about our character and coach Rodriguez has always instilled that in us.”
His team had just knocked rival Watertown out of an opportunity to earn a spot in the Class M State Playoffs with a 34-26 win that kept “The Helmet” in Torrington for another 12-months and saw them end a terrific 2019 season with a 6-4 mark. It also gave them the Naugatuck Valley League Iron Division title.
The Raiders had just come off a tough two-week stretch that had seen them forfeit a game to St Paul because of unsportsmanlike conduct within the team, a situation that was handled correctly by all involved and most importantly by the team itself.
As coach Rodriguez said to his team following the win, “You rose up.”
They rose up from the adversity and showed the character that most saw from this group of young men every time they practiced or battled in a game.
Nobody rose-up more at a critical time than senior Joey Zepperi who broke up a potential game winning two-point conversion with just 1:31 left in the game when the homestanding Indians went for it all, down 27-26.
Zepperi made a terrific break on a ball that looked destined to be completed to Watertown wide out Owen Munson and knocked it away with a perfectly timed dive.
They rose up behind the inspired play of senior Jacob Coleman who scored three touchdowns, two rushing and on a 65-yard kickoff return that answered a long touchdown drive by the home team starting the second half.
The rising was fueled by five interception, two by Sean Clinkscales, one from Tyler Semonich and pick-sixes by Kyle Smith (35-yards) and the game sealer by Exodus Rosado (13-yards) with just 26.6 seconds left in the game.
While the Indians may have outgained the Raiders by a 427-234 mark, it was the road team that came up with the big play every time it was needed.
It took me a couple of days to write this column, what with all the Turkey to eat and THS Alumni games top cover but most importantly, I needed some time to digest just what these young men, under the leadership of their caring coaching staff, had been able to accomplish.
I could not have been prouder of the program as I was when I watched Rodriguez hold “The Helmet” high in front of the Torrington fans base with his team right beside him.
Situation like the one that caused the forfeit of the St Paul game can derail a program but the Raiders coaching staff and some remarkably resilient young men were determined to keep the program upright and determined.
Tremendous job, Torrington.
You rose up.