ROCKVILLE — The significance of what Rockville has accomplished so far this season isn’t lost on Jonathan O’Coin. The senior quarterback understands what it means to be undefeated in November because he’s seen the program at its worst.
“As you all know, we weren’t the hotshots my sophomore year,” he said, referring to a 1-9 finish in 2017. “But now, we say the message every single day, ‘Restore the Rock.’ We’re restoring it right now.”
O’Coin and the Rams kept the momentum building Friday night, defeating Pequot rival Stafford/East Windsor/Somers 20-0.
At 7-0, the Rams are off to their best start since 1995, when they made their last appearance in a state championship game. They’re currently sitting atop the Class M standings, one of only two remaining unbeatens in the class along with Killingly.
“Stafford’s been the best team in the league, so we knew that they were going to bring it,” Rockville coach Erick Knickerbocker said. “They’re a very good team, so this is a big win. We really respect that opponent. When you know how good the other team is and how good they prepare, it means more to win a game like that.”
Stafford, a semifinalist in Class S two years running, was no match for Rockville — not on this night. The Rams exploded for a few big plays on offense, and their defense was simply overwhelming for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 4-2.
O’Coin threw two touchdown passes to Jaquan Dufour, the first from 12 yards out to get the Rams on the board with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter. The second one was a 33-yarder that pushed the lead to 14-0 late in the half. Both touchdowns, O’Coin later explained, came off broken plays.
“They’ve got really good athletes,” Stafford coach Brian Mazzone said. “They have good athletes across the board, and they’re big. They have a little more depth than most teams do, and they definitely have more playmakers. We were really worried about the playmakers, really worried.”
Offense, defense, it didn’t matter, the Bulldogs had no answers. Tyler Ouellette threw three interceptions, including one that Anthony Mierez returned 49 yards for a touchdown with 3:53 to go. He was pressured many more times.
“We put in 110 percent,” said Mierez, who also picked off a pass in the first quarter. “We executed.”
The result was another shutout, their second of the season, and some more motivation heading into their bye week. The Rams will return to action Nov. 15 against Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman at home.
“We made plays,” Knickerbocker said. “We bent but we didn’t break. What they do on offense is incredible, but we were ready for the challenge today. Guys stepped up and made plays.”
The Bulldogs will look to rebound next Friday when they host Gilbert/Northwestern.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jonathan O’Coin, Rockville: O’Coin made plays from the pocket and on the run. He connected twice with Jaquan Dufour in the first half, springing the Rams to a 14-0 halftime lead.
“We didn’t hit the passes that we always hit,” Stafford coach Brian Mazzone said. “There was a series down here (near the end zone) where we didn’t score early in the game. We had a corner route that we didn’t hit. We had a fly open that we didn’t hit. Then on third down we had a post that we didn’t hit. It was open.”
The teams held a brief ceremony prior to the game to honor Mazzone’s father, Gary, who was one of seven people killed in a plane crash at Bradley Airport on Oct. 3. Gary, 66, worked in the Vernon Police Department for 22 years.
“The Vernon PD is a special place to me. If I ever get pulled over, I hope they give me a break,” Brian said, smiling.