Note:This post has been updated with video, above, via Nick Owens of Law High School’s Eagle Eye News
It was an emotional scene for Erik Larka and the Law football team following a dramatic 26-21 victory over East Haven last Friday night.
Larka, a Law alum, won his first game as head coach of the Lawmen after Law scored 19 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
“It was awesome,” Larka said. “There were a bunch of guys that I used to play with at the game and I had a couple of tears coming down my face afterwards. It was a great night.”
Larka, who took over for Derrick Lewis, was an All-Coastal Conference defensive lineman at Law for then-coach Frank Luysterboroughs in 1994 and was later an assistant under then-coach Mark Robinson in the mid 2000s.
Larka spent the last three seasons at Bacon Academy and led the Bobcats to the school’s second state playoff appearance last season. Bacon Academy went 8-3 a year ago, losing to Ledyard in the Class M quarterfinals. During the regular season, the Bobcats defeated Ledyard, Fitch and Norwich Free Academy for the first time in school history en route to the ECC Large Division title. Larka, a West Haven resident, went 16-15 at Bacon Academy.
Law went just 1-9 last season. The Lawmen have not had a winning season since going 9-1 and just missing out on a playoff berth in 2007. Law has never qualified for the postseason.
The Lawmen lost a 41-34 decision to Guilford in Week 1.
“Two weeks in a row we were down two scores (in the fourth quarter),” Larka said. “But we came back and made a game of it. Against Guilford, the kids showed resiliency, and that they have a lot of fight. I think in the past people might have said that, when Law gets down, they’re just going to fold. I don’t think that’s the case this year. We’re like a family, we have each other’s backs. We’re not going to yell and scream at each other. We’re going to do what we can to win the game.”
— Hayden Hulme (@HaydenHulme_) September 17, 2016
Under Larka, the Lawmen operate out of a spread offense, led by senior quarterback Mitchell Smith. Larka said Law had a spread package last season but mainly ran out of the Wing T.
“They love it (the spread),” Larka said. “It makes it fun in practice. It gets everyone involved.”
Smith completed 15 of 25 passes for 169 yards with one touchdown and one interception against East Haven. Smith connected with junior Hayden Hulme for the winning touchdown with just seconds remaining.
Smith has passed for 503 yards and five touchdowns and has rushed for 143 yards and one touchdown through two games.
“He (Smith) is phenomenal,” Larka said. “He’s very dynamic when the pocket breaks down. He can scoot. He can really create plays.”
Senior Joe Mugford, who has rushed 17 times for 136 yards and three touchdowns this season, is the Lawmen’s featured running back. Sophomore Mike Plaskon has also contributed out of the backfield. Junior Dean Pettway leads the team with 15 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown, while sophomore Ethan Saley, junior Cole Egersheim and Hulme add depth to the receiving corps.
Senior Jake Mola has made a team-high 22 tackles.
“He’s the heart and soul of our entire team, but definitely on the defense,” Larka said.
Law visits Amity on Friday. Larka knows the program won’t become a state playoff contender overnight, but he’s pleased with how his team’s progressed so far this season.
“The immediate game plan is to have some fun and to bring some life into the program,” Larka said. “Each week we will be a new team, regardless of what happened the week before. We’re trying to be in every game going into the fourth quarter.”
A first for Creed
Creed/Career/Whitney Tech won its first game as a member of the SCC when it defeated Lyman Hall 42-12 on Thursday.
“It’s, obviously, a great feeling to be able to do that at Bowen Field,” Creed coach Brandon McCormick said. “It’s great for the kids and great for the program.”
Creed, formerly known as Hyde, moved over to the SCC from the Pequot Conference. The Howling Wolves went 6-4 last season.
“Coming in we had some doubters,” McCormick said. “But we have we have a talented team who’s in a position to compete in this league.”
Creed lost to Hillhouse 35-0 in the season opener.
“Penalties, for sure, hurt us,” McCormick said. “And we didn’t tackle very well against Hillhouse. We felt we really got after Lyman Hall in both those departments. The offensive line is also getting better each week, we were a little young in front coming in.”
The Howling Wolves visit West Haven on Friday.