BURLINGTON — Coginchaug senior Michael Slade made his debut with Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton a memorable one with three touchdowns in the first five minutes of a 34-12 Blue Devil win at Lewis Mills Saturday afternoon.
Slade, who ran for 178 yards and picked an interception on defense, sat out the Devils’ first five games after transferring from Capital Prep, per CIAC rules.
“He had quite a coming out party,” smiled Coach Erik Becker, whose team evens its record at 3-3 with the win.
“It’s great over here,” said Slade. “We have a lot of talent on this team.”
Down 21-0 in a hurry, Lewis Mills (0-6) made a game of it.
“I was nervous, but our defense turned things around and set the tone for a while,” said Spartans coach John Oko. “We can’t duplicate their speed in practice and it took us a few plays to get on our feet. We’re young.”
Slade broke for 58 yards on Coginchaug’s second play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff, then got the ball back on the Spartan 28-yard line after Mills fumbled the Blue Devil kick.
Three plays later, Slade was back in the end zone with a four-yard burst.
Coginchaug’s defense, with a marked size advantage up front, stuffed the Spartans in four plays. On the second Blue Devil play from scrimmage, Slade shot through for his hat trick on a 46-yard run.
“(Coach Oko’s) kids play with tremendous heart,” said Coginchaug Coach Becker. “They could have given up, but they didn’t. The game was much closer than the final score.”
Spartan quarterback Grayson LaBerge started Mills’ comeback with an 18-yard pass to Nick Romano and a 20-yard run on his own.
The Mills drive stalled at the Blue Devil 4-yard-line. Then the Spartan defense rose up.
Slade lost a yard; then a bad Coginchaug snap fell loose in the end zone. Mills’ Cooper Mattielo fell on the fumble for a touchdown.
After the Spartan kick, Coginchaug went four-and-out and Mills benefited from a pass interference call at the Blue Devil 8-yard line.
Romano made it 21-12 in two carries.
Mills’ defense held for another quarter.
“Then they finally wore us out,” said Coach Oko.
That meant two more Blue Devil touchdowns in the fourth quarter, on runs of four yards by Elijah Rivera and 24 by David Skelps.
“(Oko’s) trying to turn his team around, just like I am,” said Coach Becker, in his second year at Coginchaug after going 6-4 last year following a long Blue Devils winless streak.
“I’m proud of my team; they played hard,” said first-year coach Oko.
Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton 34, Lewis Mills 12
Coginchaug 21 0 0 13 — 34
Lewis Mills 6 6 0 0 — 12
- C — Michael Slade 58-yard run (Utah Griffin kick)
- C — Slade 4-yard run (Griffin kick)
- C — Slade 46-yard run (Griffin kick)
- LM — Cooper Mattielo fumble recovery in the end zone (kick failed)
- LM — Nick Romano 4-yard run (pass failed)
- C — Elijah Rivera 4-yard run (kick failed)
- C — David Skelps 24-yard run (Griffin kick)
Rushing: C — Ryan Genest 7 carries/40 yards; Michael Slade 18/173; David Skelps 4/59; Andrei Correa 2/3; Justin Czermicha 4/13; Elijah Rivera 3/18; Jackson Moore 2/7. LM — Sean Polinsky 9/41; Nick Romano 5/32; Grayson LaBerge 6/1; Colby Nordstrom 2/1; Seamus Hannon 1/0.
Passing: C — Michael Slade 1 completion/2 attempts/19 yards; Elijah Rivera 2/5/26; David Skelps 0/1/0. LM — Grayson LaBerge 3/12/60/interception.
Receiving: C — Jackson Moore 1 reception/19 yards; Michael Slade 1/14; Justin Czermicha 1/12. LM — Nick Romano 1/18; Colby Nordstrom 1/7; Tyler Kolenda 1/38.
Records: Coginchaug/Hale Ray/East Hampton 3-3; Lewis Mills 0-6.