TORRINGTON >> Summer’s over? Not to worry; football’s here.
A pretty good crowd testified to that feeling Friday night at Torrington’s Robert H. Frost Sports Complex as neighbors Gilbert/Northwestern and Torrington banged out the final pre-season scrimmage for both teams.
“I’m looking for us to improve as a unit,” said Torrington Coach Gaitan Rodriguez, whose Red Raiders played to a 4-6 season last year in the NVL with a few young-team disappointments along the way.
“I want us to play harder than we have in our other scrimmages – more intensity,” said Scott Salius, whose Yellowjackets, mixing veterans with youth, went 8-2 in the Pequot-West Division, missing out on the Class M State Tournament by just 10 points.
Torrington moves down from Class L to Class M this year, still facing the same tough NVL regular-season schedule in an Iron Division that includes tournament qualifiers Wolcott and Seymour and perennial Class S contender Ansonia.
Gilbert/Northwestern stays in Class M in what’s now called the Pequot-Uncas Division.
“Our biggest needs are on our offensive line,” said Salius, looking at a unit notably smaller than Torrington’s.
Smaller, but quicker, as the Red Raiders discovered in the scrimmage’s first drive. GN quarterback Brad Lizzy marched his team all the way down the field in a nice mix of passes and runs featuring senior Billy Komons, culminating in a final sprint to the end zone.
“On defense, we’re still piecing the puzzle together,” said Rodriguez.
“(Junior) Zach McClellan is a fiery edge rusher,” said Salius of one of the six players he likes in his Yellowjacket defensive backfield, along with St. Paul transfer Aakash Terra.
McClellan proved the point with a sack on Torrington’s first play from scrimmage.
Then the Red Raiders showed off their offensive weapons.
Junior Ora Curry starts as quarterback in front of a solid backfield, including junior Josh Maldanado, senior Cherique Cherry and featured runner Dylan Myrie.
“Curry got his chance and he took it,” said Rodruguez. “I’m very confident in our backfield.”
Curry kept grabbing his chances Friday with great footwork and sharp passes. Maldanado dashed for one 30-yard touchdown. Myrie took it in with another.
“We were better than I thought,” said Salius after the first half. “Our offensive line is showing promise.”
“I like the effort, but we’ve gotta clean it up,” Coach Rodriguez told his team.
For these two football teams and their fans, summer officially ends next Friday night at 7 p.m.
GN hosts Old Saybrook under portable lights at Van Why Field.
Torrington travels to Seymour.