By John Torsiello
A win couldn’t have gotten any easier, quite literally.
The Granby Memorial High School football team moved to 4-5 on the season with a forfeit victory over Housatonic-Wamogo when the Mountaineers couldn’t field enough players for the teams’ scheduled game last Saturday, a problem that has plagued the Falls Village club all season.
So, with two games left in the regular season, including a road trip to Coventry Friday night (after press time), the path is clear for the Bears to achieve a few things they have not done in their brief history–win five (perhaps six) games in a season and finish the campaign over .500.
“The extra week to prepare has allowed us to get healthy for our final push,” said head coach Rich Gadoury this week. “The boys had a goal to be the best team in Granby history.Offensively, they have already accomplished that. However, they still have much to prove and they are focused on getting to .500 and determined to get the first winning record ever.”
He added, “It won’t be easy. We have gone back to basics the past two weeks. We noticed we were losing our fundamentals. We’ve been doing a lot of sled work and working on the way to “Be Perfect, which has been our credo. We need to play perfect football, which we haven’t yet, and we will get to our goals that we set for ourselves in the off season.”
Gadoury says the path to history won’t be a walk in the park for his club.
“I truly believe that in these last two games we will be going up against two of, if not the best coached teams in the Pequot in Coventry/Windham/Bolton and Canton (Nov. 27 at Granby). They are both fundamentally sound and extremely physical teams. Our goal is to match them physically and to focus on our game. I know we will be ready and give it 100 percent.”
Coventry/Windham/Bolton has a 5-4 record but two of its losses were by only one point and another by six points. Canton is 6-3 on the year and had a big win over Avon to start the season.
“Going into our season obviously we wanted to finish with the best record possible, but our biggest goal of the season was to finish above .500 for the first time in our young history,” said Granby quarterback Curt Field. “We talk about it frequently as a team and especially as seniors. We consider this the next step we need to take for Granby football.”
Field, a senior, believes his team let a few games “slip away,” but he and his teammates are pumped about finishing the season strong.
“For these next two games it all comes down to execution and the drive to win. We have been given all the tools we need to win, now it’s about going onto the field and making it come all together. The offense has been moving the ball real well as of late, we just need to finish when we get inside the red zone. The defense has been stepping up over the last couple of weeks and I have no doubt that will continue against Coventry and Canton. It has been a fun year and we are ready to end the season on some high notes.”
Field has had a fine year, completing 93-of-186 passes for 1,306 yards and nine touchdowns. His favorite targets have been senior Ian Downey with 38 catches for 628 yards and six touchdowns, sophomore Connor Field with 28 catches for 517 yards and four touchdowns, and sophomore Dominic Pagano with 19 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Pagano is the team’s leading rusher with 738 yards on 135 carries, a 5.47- per carry average. He has scored six rushing touchdowns. Senior Anthony LaTorre has rushed for 109 yards.
Sophomore Logan Strain is the team’s leading tackler with 70, including 28 solo, while freshman Gage Florentino has 51 tackles, Pagano 45, and senior John Brucker 37 tackles. Brucker leads the team in sacks with four, while senior Matt Holmes has picked off three passes.
Connor Field has returned seven kickoffs for 115 yards and six punts for 107 yards.
Holmes has been a dependable kicker, making 18-of-20 point-after-touchdown kicks and 3-of-5 field goals, with 36 yards his longest make.
Granby has been a balanced team on offense, throwing for 154 yards and running for 129 yards a game.
The Bears have beaten Housatonic/Wamogo, Haddam-Killingworth, Lewis Mills and Nonnewaug, and lost to Enfield, Gilbert/Northwestern, Hyde, Avon, and Coginchaug.