Raiders fall on the gridiron but grow as a family.
BEACON FALLS: Most coaches and players don’t want to hear the old “hey, sometimes a loss is as good as a win” or “we left it all out there and had a chance to win at the end”.
On Friday night in their season opener against Woodland, the Torrington football team can allow themselves both of those thoughts because they truly grew as a team and a family in an 18-8 loss to the Hawks.
The same Hawks who made an appearance in the State Playoffs a year ago and have been predicted to be in the running again in 2019.
The same Hawks who have two great offensive players in senior quarterback Tyler Bulinski and sophomore (bad news for the NVL) Jason Palmieri but make no mistake, the Raiders outplayed the Hawks for large chunks of this game.
Head coach Gaitan Rodriguez exalted team after the game.
‘We’re going to clean some things up and we’re going to be dangerous,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of great games and this one ranks up there.”
The Raiders trailed 7-0 at the half but clearly felt good about themselves even after having a long touchdown called back early in the first quarter.
They took that good feeling to the field to start the third quarter and when junior Aiden Traver caused and recovered a fumble on the Hawks first play from scrimmage, the road team was in business.
From their own 43, Torrington would bull rush the Woodland defense to an eventual one-yard run by senior Conrad Avallone that put the Raiders on the board.
A successful two-point run by Exodus Rosado made it an 8-7 game in favor of the team from the Northwest Corner and the energy and effort was paying off.
That the Hawks would be able to rely on their two play makers for the go ahead score in the fourth quarter and added a 30-yard field goal down the stretch takes nothing away from the payoff of the work they put into things leading up to today.
Their coach understood that what occurred on the gridiron Friday night had some serious value to these young men.
“Failure is not bad,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a question of how we learn from this, how do we bounce back. This will make us stronger. I will bet you that right now.”
As he looked around at his huddled team, he knew they were in pain but in good pain.
“It should hurt,” Rodriguez said. “It should hurt but take that with you to practice and let’s get better.”
Avallone, who took the reigns from Ora Curry who graduated a year ago, ran the offense (a new one) like a seasoned pro.
Christine Estefani was strong on the outside and inside parts of the running game while Traver helped the offense line of the Raiders push the Hawks back at the line of attack time after time.
Traver and both lines put forth tremendous efforts on night one.
Weight room work creates champions and to a man, this was a dedicated group over the past nine months.
“We’ve just been working hard all summer,” Avallone said. “All off-season really and come together as a family and a team.”
Sure, a win would have been beyond sweet but the Raiders can take solace in knowing they took it to the Hawks on their field and for most of the night, treated it like it was their home turf.