6 Centaurs get All-ECC honors
Six members of the Woodstock Academy Centaurs football team received All-Eastern Connecticut Conference honors on Sunday.
Senior Nick Bedard, who caught 47 passes for 727 yards and five receiving touchdowns, was named a first team Division II receiver.
Senior offensive lineman, Gavin Lanning, also received 1st team honors on the offensive side.
Linebacker Travis White (77 tackles through the Bacon Academy game) was named a 1st team linebacker.
Luis Miranda was named 1st team Utility/All-Around player.
Miranda was the Centaurs kick and punt returner, played safety and finished with 25 catches for 303 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.
Senior Aidan Morin, in his first year on the football team, was named the Division II All-ECC punter.
Morin averaged over 35 yards a kick this season.
Sophomore quarterback Ethan Davis, who led the Centaurs with 1,570 yards passing (13 touchdowns) and 569 yards rushing (6 touchdowns) was received Honorable Mention honors as a quarterback in Division II.
Miranda was named the ECC Scholar-Athlete award winner while Lanning was the ECC Sportsmanship Award recepient.
Centaurs finish season on good note
The season came to a close for the Woodstock Academy Centaurs football team on Saturday.
But it will not soon be forgotten.
The Centaurs completed their best season ever since becoming a varsity football program with a 45-42 win over the CREC Cooperative in Enfield.
Woodstock Academy finished with a 7-3 record.
“It’s just a nice capstone on a great season,” Centaurs coach Sean Saucier said. “I’m really happy for the kids, especially the seniors, it was a great way to end it.”
The Centaurs also finished third in Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference and had a chance of winning or tying for the divisional title right up to the last three weeks of the season. They were also in the hunt for a Class L state playoff berth, but the win over the Colts did not help in that regard as other teams surged past the Centaurs due to point totals.
“I think the bar just kept getting raised,” Saucier said. “Initially, the first win against Ledyard was special but then it was like, ‘OK, let’s not put a cap on this, let’s see what we can do.’ That continued to the very end which I’m proud of.”
The Centaurs overcame one debilitating trait that had defined them in previous years.
When things started to go south, they did not pack it in.
That was true right up to the last game.
CREC held a 42-31 lead with 4:57 left in the third quarter after freshman Raiden McDade stepped in front of Nick Bedard at the Centaurs’ 45-yard line and got the pick-6 for the Colts.
Not by a longshot.
“That’s what makes them different,” Saucier agreed. “We’re down 11, late third quarter, made a few mistakes and things were looking grim. We just kept playing.”
It didn’t come immediately, but the Centaurs did respond.
Woodstock Academy drove to the Colts’ 24-yard line but went in reverse and turned the ball over after quarterback Ethan Davis was sacked at midfield.
But two plays later, Trey Ayotte picked up a loose ball at the Centaurs’ 36-yard line and Woodstock Academy was back in business.
Five plays later, Davis found senior Bedard (3 catches, 67 yards) for a 26-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the Centaurs trailed, 42-37.
Woodstock Academy surged ahead with 6:46 left in the game.
The Centaurs forced the Colts (6-4) to punt and a touchback gave them the ball at their own 20.
Davis hit Travis White with a 19-yard pass and then took off down the left side for 53 more to the CREC 8-yard line.
After running back Ian Welz moved Woodstock Academy one-yard closer, Davis found Luis Miranda (4 catches, 75 yards) in the back of the end zone for the game-winning score and also found Miranda for the two-point conversion.
“Luis went out on a great note (Saturday). He was amazing,” Saucier said.
So was Davis.
He wasn’t perfect.
He threw three interceptions and was sacked four times.
“The third quarter was pretty rough, he made some mistakes,” Saucier said.
He more than made up for those foibles by accounting for over 400 yards of offense.
Davis completed 21-of-31 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 161 in 13 carries and added two more scores.
The best thing.
He’s only a sophomore.
“In the fourth quarter, he was unbelievable. His ability to keep playing when things are not going his way is a really special quality for a 15-year-old,” Saucier said.
Davis completed 56 percent of his passes this season (129-for-229) for 1,570 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He was also the Centaurs’ leading rusher with 569 yards in 77 carries (7.4 yards per carry) and six touchdowns.
The game opened in a pretty nice way for the Centaurs when the Colts fumbled on their own 15-yard line on the first play from scrimmage.
Davis ran for 13 of those in his first carry and Woodstock Academy was knocking on the door. It was still knocking on the door two plays later before Davis snuck the ball over the goal line just 1:14 into the contest.
But no team can get comfortable against CREC.
Senior quarterback Dorrian Chaney (14-for-25, 298 yards passing) is formidable.
He tied the game moments later on a 27-yard pass to Tomico Williams.
The Centaurs answered with an 11-play drive that culminated with a 9-yard pass from Davis to Aidan Morin (9 catches, 76 yards) to take a 13-6 lead.
CREC scored twice before the end of the first quarter and led, 22-13, going into the second.
The Centaurs threatened early in the second quarter, getting down inside the Colts’ 20-yard line before a fumble seemingly ended the threat.
The Colts returned the favor when Centaurs’ senior JJ Bain picked up a ball on the ground at the Colts’ 25. On the next play, Davis scored to cut the deficit to two.
CREC went up by six when Chaney scored from 8 yards out but the Centaurs tied it on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Miranda and a two-point conversion pass to the senior.
Woodstock Academy went up by three at the half when Morin, a first-year football player, hit a 36-yard field goal, his fourth field of the season – he also converted on 21-of-23 extra points this year- on the final play of the half.
For some of the Centaurs, the win over CREC meant the final time in a Woodstock Academy uniform.
“It was sad,” senior lineman Gavin Lanning said of the final game. “It’s the last time we get to hang out as a group of guys. We’ve become family over time. Of course, we’re going to see each other at school, but not together.”
But they have accomplished something memorable.
“We set a milestone for how many wins this program has had. We’ve never had a winning season to begin with and the seventh win put the icing on the cake,” Lanning added.
Centaurs' hopes denied by Waterford
The seniors on the Woodstock Academy football team played for a final time in their high school careers on the Bentley Athletic Complex turf Saturday.
The result wasn’t what they had hoped.
A win over Waterford would have given them a share of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title.
But the Lancers were not in the mood to share and they posted a 26-15 victory to claim the title for themselves.
“Although it was a loss, it was a pretty good learning experience for us,” Woodstock Academy senior wide receiver and defensive back Nick Bedard said. “Holding them to 26 and being the underdog in this game is something to build off of.”
Only one team, Griswold/Wheeler, had held the Lancers to less points, 14, in a loss to the Lancers.
“I didn’t think they would dominate us,” said coach Sean Saucier. “I expected a good game. I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t able to execute some things.”
Woodstock Academy (6-3, 2-2 Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II) had a prime opportunity early.
The Centaurs backed up the Lancers to their own 1-yard line after an Aidan Morin 52-yard punt.
Waterford, even with the benefit of an encroachment penalty against the Centaurs, could not get a first down and faced a 4th-and-2 on their own 9-yard line.
Inexplicably, the Lancers opted to go for it.
An incomplete pass gave Woodstock Academy the ball.
But the Lancer defense held.
A run that gained nothing and two incomplete passes later, the Centaurs had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Morin and a 3-0 lead.
The slim advantage held until early in the second quarter when Trey Brennan capped a short six-play drive with a 3-yard run for a touchdown for Waterford to give it a 6-3 lead.
The drive was highlighted by a 38-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Bakken (10-for-21 passing, 102 yards) to Sam Menders.
Woodstock Academy opened the door for the Lancers (8-1, 4-0) to take a nine-point lead at the half.
Jackson Harshberger picked a pass from Centaurs’ quarterback Ethan Davis at the Centaurs’ 25-yard line.
Three plays later, Bakken looked and much to his delight saw Michael Vincent wide open on the right side of the end zone for an 8-yard score.
“He’s really good,” Bedard said of the Waterford quarterback. “So to hold him down, even though he had a couple touchdown passes, was pretty good.”
The Centaurs drove to the Waterford 13-yard line but turned the ball over on downs as the Centaurs could move the ball in the first three quarters, but just couldn’t punch the ball in.
“They are tough defensively and they take away certain things. You just have to play the chess match, figure out what is there and what you can take advantage of,” Saucier said.
The Centaurs went into the half down, 12-3, but still very much in the game.
Waterford gave itself a bit larger a cushion with a five-minute drive to open the second half that culminated in a 25-yard Bakken-to-Vincent touchdown pass.
The Centaurs stayed within shouting distance when Davis used his feet and arm to propel his team downfield.
The sophomore quarterback, who finished with 83 yards rushing, got 20 of those to open a drive that started on the Centaur 36.
Davis (19-for-38, 187 yards) found Luis Miranda for a 19-yard pass and two plays later, Bedard (8 catches, 66 yards) for another 19-yard connection to the Waterford 9.
Davis scampered to the 3-yard line and then handed off to running back Ian Welz for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 10, 19-9.
“It was a good feeling. We were having trouble all game putting ball into the end zone,” Bedard said.
Waterford refused to let Woodstock Academy build much in the way of momentum.
The Lancers quickly answered with a 9-play drive that ended in a Harshberger 9-yard touchdown run.
Bedard got the final touchdown on his career on his home field with a 2-yard run with 1:09 left in the game.
“It was just a push to the outside. It was going to the short side of the field and we didn’t know if we were going to get it in, but I got great blocks from Aidan, Ian, and Travis (White) and I made it right in,” Bedard said.
The Centaurs finish up the season with a game against the CREC Cooperative at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Hartford.
“We want to get that seventh win,” Saucier said. “We want to go to CREC and end the season on a high note. We’re going to regroup and make the last week a good one. Fight to the last day and end on a great note- that would be wonderful.”
Centaurs fall to Bobcats
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs football team's defense was its normal stingy self.
The Centaurs, however, just couldn’t put enough points on the board and fell to the Bacon Academy Bobcats in Colchester Saturday, 14-7.
“We battled,” Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier said. “Even when things were looking dim with three or four minutes to go, next thing you know, we were in position to tie the game. We showed a lot of physical toughness and they gave me everything they had.”
The Centaurs did have a chance late.
After giving up the ball on their own 36-yard line on downs, the defense held.
The Bobcats went back two yards and were then hit with a personal foul that pushed them back even further to their own 46.
A 9-yard run by Terrance Gignac was not enough for a first down and Bacon Academy was forced to punt.
The snap, however, was low to punter Sean Baldyga and he was forced to run with the ball, going out at the Bacon Academy 49-yard line.
It left the Centaurs 1:29 to work with.
An incomplete pass was followed a 2-yard run for Ian Welz and another incomplete pass.
Somehow on fourth down, sophomore quarterback Ethan Davis (17-for-32 passing, 115 yards) kept Woodstock Academy’s hopes alive.
In the grasp of a tackler and starting to fall to the ground, he managed to still throw the ball and found Luis Miranda (5 catches, 40 yards) for a first down at the Bacon Academy 25-yard line.
But a holding call on the next play cost the Centaurs 16 yards.
Three incomplete passes and a sack ended the Centaurs hopes.
“It never seemed to me like we were in a huge rhythm offensively, everything was difficult,” Saucier said.
Woodstock Academy (6-2, 2-1 Eastern Connecticut Conference Div. II) failed to get a first down in the first quarter, going three-and-out in their two possessions.
Bacon Academy did the same on its first but found the end zone on its second.
The Centaurs looked as if they had stopped the Bobcats without a first down again when quarterback Justin Kelsey ran for only seven yards on a third-and-17, but a late hit by Woodstock Academy on the play gave new life to Bacon at the Centaurs 32.
The Bobcats faced another fourth down three plays later, but Kelsey (7-for-15 passing, 55 yards) found Aidan Gallagher on the left sideline for the eight yards necessary for the first down. Kelsey then went back to Gallagher on the right for 17 more and Bacon Academy was in business at the Woodstock Academy 5-yard line.
Running back Jake Cavallo (17 carries, 88 yards) got four of those and his backfield mate, Terrance Gignac, got the last one to put Bacon up, 7-0, with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
That would still be the score at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
This time, it was a Bacon Academy penalty that helped Woodstock Academy.
A roughing the passer call on the final play of the third quarter gave the Centaurs a first down at the Bobcats’ 40.
Davis (8 carries, 68 yards) ran off 24 more to the 16-yard line and found Aidan Morin (3 catches 24 yards) for four more to the 12.
But a false start, a negative yardage running play an incomplete pass left the Centaurs with a fourth down on the Bacon 19.
“I was supposed to run a fade to the right but Ethan rolled out to the left so I came back across the field and he saw me and I just got higher than the guy,” Miranda said.
In the back of the end zone, Miranda jumped over Kelsey and then tumbled over him on the way down, clutching the football the entire time for the game-tying score with 9:44 to play.
The Bobcats (6-2, 3-1), however, had the answer.
After hurting themselves with two penalties, Bacon Academy got down to the Woodstock Academy 28-yard line on a 14-yard pass from Kelsey to Luke LaSaracina.
An incomplete pass, however, had them staring at a third-and-7 when Kelsey threw a ball over the middle. The ball was knocked down by the Centaurs’ defense but pass interference was called, giving Bacon a first down at the Woodstock Academy 14.
Three runs and a penalty later and the Bobcats were knocking on the door at the 1-yard line. Kelsey, behind a double-wing formation, followed his center into the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning score with 4:30 left to play.
“We left it all out there physically,” Miranda said. “We just made too many mistakes and in the end, it came back to bite us. We just have to get better and get ready for Waterford (Saturday).”
The Centaurs host the Lancers (7-1, 3-0) in an ECC Division II game at the Bentley Athletic Complex at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Despite the loss to Bacon, a win over Waterford would create a three-way tie for the Division II title between the Centaurs, Lancers and Bobcats.
Easy win over Nonnewaug; big game with Bacon next
A win over Stonington the week before gave the Woodstock Academy football team its most ever wins in a season.
A 44-0 win over Nonnewaug on Saturday at the Bentley Athletic Complex meant the Centaurs reached another milestone.
“Now, we got a winning season under our belt, the first time in school history. It’s an unbelievable feeling. All the kids came out and worked hard on Senior Day and that was really big for us,” said senior receiver Nick Bedard.
The win raised the Centaurs record to 6-1 with three games left in the season.
It wasn’t like this one was ever in doubt.
Almost before the two teams stepped on to the field.
The Chiefs came in with an 0-2 record and will play only four varsity football games this season, reserving the rest for a junior varsity schedule.
It was a situation that the Centaurs were all too familiar with in the not-so-distant past.
The difference being it was the Centaurs who used to be on the wrong side of the rout.
“At halftime, we talked about that,” Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier said. “We’ve been there. The kids understood that and understood how to treat a team with dignity when it’s lopsided. I was proud of them for that. They really got it, they understood.”
The one thing that Saucier knew the Centaurs had to do was to come out and strike early to take any upset potential out of the equation.
Woodstock Academy had no problems delivering.
Although, the Centaurs were their own worst enemies early.
The first carry from scrimmage went 20 yards, but the ball popped out and Nonnewaug recovered on its own 35-yard line.
In three plays, the Chiefs lost 18 yards.
That forced a Nonnewaug punt and the Centaurs got the ball back on the Chiefs 47.
Two running plays netted 19 yards and senior Ian Welz (6 carries, 52 yards) took the third one into the end zone, only to turn around and see a penalty flag sitting on the ground about eight yards from the original line of scrimmage.
The holding call made things a little more difficult on the Centaurs but on 4th-and-10, quarterback Ethan Davis went 21 yards to the Nonnewaug 4-yard line.
Running back Gavin Savoie took it in to the end zone on the next play.
“It was a goal to get out quickly. We still have some things to clean up, but at the end of the day, we executed for the most part,” Saucier said.
Nonnewaug again went backwards on its next possession but a decent punt backed the Centaurs up to their own 15.
A holding call cost the Centaurs four more yards.
But Davis (3-for-6, 90 yards) found Travis White over the middle for nine yards to give the Centaurs a little breathing room.
Woodstock Academy then went to a relatively safe play, a little bubble pass to the right to Bedard.
“All year, we’ve been running that bubble play and we hadn’t broken one. Breaking it outside and then coming back inside with Luis (Miranda) blocking was unbelievable,” Bedard said.
Indeed, Berard got to the right sideline and cut it back inside, going all the way across to the field to the left side where he was greeted not only by Miranda but a phalanx of Centaurs who accompanied him the remainder of the 80 yards to the end zone.
“That was cool to see Nick’s athleticism on display. That was pretty cool on Senior Day to have him do that,” Saucier said.
Savoie would set up the final score of the first quarter for the Centaurs.
After a Nonnewaug fumble gave Woodstock Academy the ball on the Chiefs 27-yard line, Savoie ran it 26 yards, finishing just shy of the goal line.
The Centaurs could have easily run it, but instead, targeted another senior, Miranda, who caught the 1-yard pass for his first touchdown of the season.
Up 22-0, Saucier went to his bench.
“You got kids who don’t play a ton and it was really nice to have the opportunity to let everybody who deserves it play and have their moment. That was a positive takeaway,” Saucier said.
Adam Schimmelpfennig plays a lot on the defensive side of the ball.
Not as much on the offensive side.
So, Saucier put the junior in at running back and he carried the ball for the first two plays of the second quarter.
The first went 16 yards, the second ate up the remainder of the distance to the Nonnewaug goal as he scored from 44 yards out to make it 28-0.
A safety added two points to the Centaurs’ total and a Trey Ayotte 5-yard run accounted for a 37-0 halftime lead.
Freshman Trevor Savoie finished off the scoring with a 60-yard gallop with 3:47 left in the game.
Before the game, Woodstock Academy did honor seniors Welz, Bedard, Aidan Morin, Dan Suitum, Miranda, Nick Bessette, Travis White, J.J. Bain, Seth Libby, Gavin Lanning and Zach Bertram.
That group and the Centaurs as a whole have accomplished a lot already this season.
There are, however, bigger fish to fry now.
The success that Woodstock Academy has experienced means it has a chance to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title.
That will be decided in the next two weeks.
On Saturday at noon, the Centaurs travel to Colchester to play Bacon Academy which owns a 5-2 overall record and a 2-1 Division II mark.
“This game was nice but going into Bacon Academy, we’re going to have to really step up. It’s going to be the biggest game of the season. We’re going to really have to crack down this week and face Bacon with everything we got,” Bedard said.
Should the Centaurs get past Bacon, they host Waterford on Nov. 16 which is currently 2-0 in the division and 6-1 overall, in what will likely be the title game.
The Centaurs are also in the hunt for a Class L state playoff berth.
They need to get into the top eight.
They are currently No. 12 in Class L.
“To be in that position is pretty special,” Saucier said. “For our football team to be playing for a division, with a chance at a state playoff berth, that’s pretty awesome stuff.”
Centaurs down Stonington 14-7, set win mark
Huck Flanagan had this one gift wrapped, but no one was complaining.
The Woodstock Academy sophomore saw a ball knocked out of a Stonington running back’s hands fall right into his in the fourth quarter of the football game between the Centaurs and Bears at the Bentley Athletic Complex Saturday.
The only thing that laid ahead of him was 67 yards of turf.
He beat everyone to the end zone and gave the Centaurs a 14-7 win over the Bears.
“Talk about taking your opportunity when it comes,” Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier said. “He got on to the field only for a couple of plays and look what happened. That’s amazing. And everybody was disciplined enough not to block in the back or anything like that.”
Flanagan was quick to credit to his teammates for helping him.
Freshman Evan Roy did the hard job.
He reached around and popped the ball out.
“It landed right in my hands, like a baby in my arms and it was auto-pilot from there on,” Flanagan said. “When I realized it was in my hands, I was like ‘I have to run now.’ Luis Miranda was behind me the whole way down the field, yelling in my ear the whole way, ‘Go, go, go.’ I just ran it in. I was full of adrenaline. I was just going. I was gassing it.”
The touchdown was what the Centaurs needed as Stonington scored a late touchdown to make it close, but not close enough.
The victory raised the Centaurs’ record to 5-1.
The win total is the most ever for a Woodstock Academy team in a season.
"Getting five right now feels great because we don't have to worry about getting five any more. It's already accomplished. Now, we can focus on what's ahead and keep working," senior Aidan Morin said.
Saucier said it was important to him to get it done against Stonington because of its significance.
“I wanted to get it against a team the quality of Stonington High School. It makes it really special. It’s another historic football program, just like Ledyard. It just feels that much better,” Saucier said.
The win also raised the Centaurs record to 2-0 in Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference, tied for the lead with Waterford.
The game didn’t start out well for Woodstock Academy.
It turned over the ball on its first possession to Stonington (0-6, 0-3 ECC Division II).
The Bears got it on the Centaurs 34 and went all of eight yards before turning it over on downs.
It was the story of the day for Stonington which mustered only 143 yards offensively.
“I think it was a pretty special effort defensively. We have a strong defense. We work together. Have good pass coverage and can stop the run most of the time,” said Woodstock Academy corner Adam Schimmelpfennig.
It took the Centaurs just three passes to get deep into Stonington territory.
Sophomore quarterback Ethan Davis (9-for-20 passing, 171 yards) hit senior receiver Nick Bedard (4 catches, 60 yards) for 10 yards, went to Morin for 32 and then hit Trey Ayotte over the middle for 10 more to get the Centaurs to the Bears’ 22-yard line.
A holding call negated a touchdown pass to Bedard one play later and two more incomplete passes left the Centaurs with a fourth-and-20 on the 29.
Davis put up a pass down the left sideline for Morin.
“I was more focused on catching the ball than keeping my feet in. I knew I would be close, I was hoping I was already in the end zone. Luckily I got my feet in and caught it,” Morin said.
He was ruled out inside the 1-yard line.
A Davis keeper did the rest and the Centaurs led, 7-0, with 3:12 left in the first quarter.
That was also the score at the end of the first half.
The Centaurs did have one more threat in the first half, this one generated in part by the feet of senior running back Ian Welz.
Welz rushed for 80 yards in 22 carries.
Welz had three straight carries of 10, 15 and five yards to get the ball down to the 25-yard line.
“Props to Ian, my friend back there, he ran his butt off,” Morin said.
Davis hit Travis White with a 12-yard pass and then carried the ball himself to the Stonington 7 only to see the drive end there.
A 24-yard field goal attempt by Morin went wide left.
Woodstock Academy got into Stonington territory on both of their possessions in the first half, but could not punch one in.
“We stalled out on a couple drives, that’s going to happen occasionally, and that’s why the defense really was so special (Saturday). There were a lot of plays left on the field, dropped passes, we struggled with the snap a bit. Ian Welz was a warrior out there,” Saucier said.
Flanagan’s fumble recovery gave the Centaurs a little breathing room,
They needed it.
Josh Curtin (19 carries, 79 yards) scored on a 1-yard dive for the Bears with 2:57 left to play to make it a one-touchdown game. Nick Bessette covered the attempted Stonington onside kick for the Centaurs following the score and Woodstock Academy was able to run out the clock.
The Centaurs return to the field at home on Saturday playing a non-league game against Nonnewaug (0-2) at 1 p.m. at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
Centaurs tie program record for wins
It was a great way to go into the bye week for the Woodstock Academy football team.
A 7-6 win in Hartford over the Capital Prep-Achievement First cooperative program on Saturday raised the Centaurs record to 4-1 on the season.
They don’t take to the field again until Saturday, Oct. 26 when they host the Stonington Bears at 1:30 p.m. at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
The Centaurs now get a little break to step back, relax and enjoy what they have already accomplished thus far this season.
“We’re going to give them Monday and Friday off. It will be a three-day week. We will focus on lifting, film, conditioning and, hopefully, have a little bit of fun,” Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier said.
The fourth win of the season was significant.
It equaled the highest total for the program in the win column since it began fielding a varsity football program in 2006.
The Centaurs won four games in 2008 and equaled that in 2016, Saucier’s first year with the program.
A win over the Bears will set a new standard.
“It’s always nice to raise the bar. That’s what we’re really trying to do. We’re trying to raise the expectations as far as what the football program can do. I’m a couple of years into it and it’s really nice to see that bar being raised,” Saucier said.
Woodstock Academy moved the ball well on its first series Saturday.
The Centaurs put together a 14-play drive, but it stalled at the Capital Prep 19-yard line.
Saucier called on kicker Aidan Morin to attempt the 36-yard field goal.
The Trailblazers broke through and blocked the attempt.
“I know why that got blocked. We’re going to work on that because it would have been nice to put three on the board in the first drive. But it was a little bit of a chess match. We had to earn every yard, so did they. You could kind of feel the game going that way,” Saucier said.
The Trailblazers recovered the blocked field goal at their own 42-yard line and could only go seven yards, turning the ball over just inside midfield.
The Centaurs had a punt blocked on their next possession which gave Capital Prep the ball back on their own 48.
A 23-yard run by the Blazers’ Makhi Buckly moved the ball to the 30-yard line of the Centaurs.
But the Woodstock Academy defense was up to the task.
After a four-yard run by Capital Prep, a sack and a tackle behind the line of scrimmage resulted in 11 yards of losses.
Capital Prep turned over the ball on downs at the Woodstock 37-yard line.
“The defense was just amazing,” Saucier said. “The job that (defensive coordinator) Jesse Bousquet has done with game planning, watching film, understanding what the opponent does, what their strengths are and trying to take them away and then have the kids execute it, has been fantastic.”
The Centaurs did bend a bit when the Blazers drove to the Woodstock Academy 37 midway through the second quarter but a false start and a Trey Ayotte sack for the Centaurs gave Woodstock Academy the ball back on the Capital Prep 39.
The Centaurs got as far as the 23 before running out of downs.
Three straight incomplete passes giving the ball back to their opponents and guaranteeing a scoreless first half.
Capital Prep and Woodstock Academy exchanged punts to open the second half but the Centaurs again had their punt attempt blocked for a second time.
“They overloaded an edge and came hard,” Saucier said. “We have to work on the way we punt the ball, got to get it off a little quicker. Aidan is a little bit of a rugby-style kicker. It takes a little bit longer.”
Capital Prep could only move it as far as the Woodstock Academy 35.
When the Centaurs got the ball back, running back Ian Welz (20 carries, 33 yards) carried the ball twice but couldn’t get much beyond the line of scrimmage.
An offside call moved the ball up five yards to the Centaurs 40.
Offensive coordinator Connor Elliott made a quick adjustment on a route for senior receiver Nick Bedard.
Sophomore quarterback Ethan Davis (8-for-17, 114 yards passing) responded to the move.
He looked over the middle and spotted Bedard (6 catches, 90 yards) just beyond the Capital Prep safety.
Bedard caught Davis’ pass in stride.
It was a good thing that he didn’t have to slow down because he barely won the foot race to the end zone to complete the 60-yard touchdown play.
“It was beautiful play,” Saucier said.
A beautiful play that Saucier, especially with the way his defense was playing, thought might hold up.
“When we scored, you got the feeling that even though we knew it may not be enough, we put them on the defensive with that punch down,” Saucier said.
Whether it was enough would soon be tested.
Capital Prep, on its next possession, put together an 11-play drive of its own.
It ended in the end zone.
Solomon Barlow (9-for-23, 118 yards), like Davis, looked down the middle and found Bryce Williams open.
Unlike the Woodstock Academy touchdown, this one only had to go 12 yards.
But the Trailblazers were denied the lead when Buckly was stopped short of the goal line trying to run in the two-point conversion.
“(Lineman) Gavin Lanning probably had the game of his career on both sides of the ball and he was involved in that stop. They tried to go up the middle and there was nowhere for the kid to go,” Saucier said. “They were big but Gavin was able to clog up the middle.”
What followed was best described by Saucier as “hectic.”
His Centaurs were forced to punt but Capital Prep failed to move the ball and tried for a first down on a 4th-and-10 from their own 20.
Barlow’s pass fell incomplete.
The Centaurs got a quick first down on runs by Welz and Davis that got them down to the Trailblazers’ 10.
But three more rushes resulted in a net gain of a yard and an incomplete pass gave Capital Prep the ball back on their own 9-yard line.
“For the second time this season, we were on defense in the final minute trying to stop a last drive by our opponent,” Saucier said.
It was made a little more stressful by the lack of a clock.
“The scoreboard wasn’t working. I knew there was 1 minute, 20 seconds left at one point in that drive and they were still on their side of the field and they never got out of bounds and didn’t have any timeouts. I think the last three plays, I knew time was about to expire,” Saucier said.
Unfortunately, he had no idea of when as the official keeping the time was on the other side of the field.
The Blazers threw three incomplete passes but a 15-yard penalty against the Centaurs extended their drive. Barlow then completed three straight passes of 15, 17 and 10 yards to get to the Centaurs 34, but Capital Prep ran out of time.
“I’m not really sure if I thought about being 4-1 this early. It’s certainly nice going into the bye week. It’s always nice to enter a bye week off of a win that way you’re not contemplating a loss for two weeks. I’m happy about that,” Saucier said.
Centaurs lose 1st
Two kickoffs returned for touchdowns in the first half doomed the Woodstock Academy hopes on Saturday.
The two scores led Plainfield to a 30-19 win over the Centaurs in the Homecoming Day game at the Bentley Athletic Complex Saturday.
The loss dropped Woodstock Academy to 3-1.
The Centaurs scored twice in the first quarter.
Quarterback Ethan Davis (12 carries, 59 yards) carried the ball into the end zone from four yards and a yard out.
Unfortunately, his efforts were overshadowed by an 83-yard kickoff return by Khalil Easton and a 65-yard return by Lucien Dube.
Dube also scored on a 7-yard run to put Plainfield up 22-13 eight minutes into the first quarter.
Each team would only score one more touchdown each.
The Centaurs got theirs with eight seconds left when Davis (16-for-28 passing, 193 yards) found Aidan Morin in the end zone.
Woodstock Academy travels to Dillon Stadium in Hartford at 3 p.m. Friday.
Woodstock Academy rolls to 3-0
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs football continued its record-setting ways on Saturday.
It rolled out to a 22-point lead by halftime and coasted to a 36-0 win over Amistad Academy in New Haven.
The Centaurs, for the first time in the history of the program, are off to a 3-0 start.
“We’re feeling good about the start,” Centaurs coach Sean Saucier said.
Woodstock Academy didn’t immediately get it into gear.
The Centaurs were forced to punt on their first possession and allowed Amistad to get near midfield when it first had the football.
“It was a long ride, the bus was late, and it wasn’t the most ideal morning for preparation and that had a slight impact on the start. We snapped out of it by the second quarter and started to make some plays,” Saucier said.
On the second possession, Woodstock Academy quarterback Ethan Davis (10-for-17, 104 yards passing) completed a 23-yard pass to Luis Miranda and added a 22-yarder to Trey Ayotte to get the ball to the Amistad 26.
But the Centaurs bogged down and on a 4th-and-5, got the Amistad defense to jump offside to get the first down.
Two plays later, Gavin Savoie scored on a 2-yard run.
The defense again forced Amistad to punt, and the offense looked like it was going to march right down the field when it got 25 yards in four plays.
But a second holding call in two series backed it up and it took another offside call against Amistad to get a first down at the 6-yard-line.
After an incomplete pass, running back Ian Welz (17 carries, 70 yards) scored the Centaurs’ second touchdown.
“Whenever I don’t have to have Ian and Gavin on the field for the whole game, it usually benefits us and their bodies,” Saucier said.
Welz had been bothered a bit by turf toe but has been feeling better.
“He was ready to run so I gave Gavin a nice break from carrying the ball,” Saucier said.
Savoie carried only three times for 11 yards.
Amistad turned the ball over just before the half when Seth Libby recoverfed a fumble at the Amistad 16-yard-line.
On the first play, Davis (5 carries, 23 yards) scrambled for 14 of those yards.
Unfortunately for the Centaurs, it took another four plays before Davis burst through from a yard out to give Woodstock Academy the big halftime lead.
The Centaurs failed to score in the third quarter although they had their opportunities.
They were slowed down by a lost fumble at the Amistad 33.
Safety Aidan Morin got the ball back for Woodstock Academy when he settled under a wobbly pass, got the interception and returned it to the Amistad 46.
Despite getting another first down off an Amistad offside penalty, the Centaurs turned over the ball on downs at the Amistad 17.
“There is room for improvement. We had a pretty clean game against Ledyard, and I haven’t had the same feeling since. It’s not just me, the players understand it, too. They’re harping on it. There is a lot to clean up. We left a lot of points on the field against Windham and even on Saturday. It’s all mental mistakes really,” Saucier said.
One of those came immediately following the interception when Davis hooked up with Miranda for a 40-yard pass only to have it called back for an ineligible receiver downfield.
Fortunately, it didn’t hurt the Centaurs.
The hosts failed to move the ball and an Amistad punt was returned by Miranda to the Amistad 28.
Welz carried for 12 of those yards, Davis shoveled a 5-yard pass to Nick Bedard (4 catches, 19 yards) and the quarterback finished things off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Travis White (3 catches, 45 yards).
After another Amistad fumble was recovered by Hunter Anderson, the Centaurs embarked on a time-consuming, eight-play, 34-yard drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown run for Adam Exley.
The defense was stellar.
Woodstock Academy allowed Amistad only 65 yards in offense including a negative-2 yards passing.
“It seemed like a little more than that, to be honest, at times,” Saucier said. “They did run the ball effectively a couple of times but 65 yards, that’s pretty good, I will take that.”
The Centaurs will have a tougher test this weekend when it hosts Plainfield at 10:30 on Saturday at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
It’s the Homecoming Day game for Woodstock Academy.
The Panthers (2-1) are coming off a 30-13 victory over Windham.
"We’re excited to host Plainfield. I think that has become a bigger game than maybe initially thought," Saucier said.
Centaurs beat heat, Whippets to go 2-0
Digging down deep.
It’s what both the Woodstock Academy Centaurs and Windham Whippets football teams had to do on Saturday.
The last couple of days of summer had lived up to its billing.
Temperatures in the mid-80’s greeted players from both teams to the turf of the Bentley Athletic Complex.
Add to it the heat generated by the turf itself, which most believe is about another 20 degrees thanks to a cloudless sky and the players were, literally, feeling the heat.
“(Luis Miranda) must have got 15 massages (Saturday on the sidelines),” said Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier. “His calves were rock hard, he can barely walk.”
“He’s a warrior to the end,” Saucier said.
The senior was on the field to make one of the biggest plays of the game for the Centaurs, knocking down a possible go-ahead touchdown for Windham midway through the fourth quarter and preserving a 19-8 win over the Whippets.
The win raised the Centaurs record to 2-0.
It’s the best start for the Centaurs since Woodstock Academy started playing varsity football in 2006.
It doubled the win output of the season a year ago and pulled the Centaurs within two wins of the all-time best mark of four wins in a season.
That said, it wasn’t the best performance that Saucier had seen.
The defense was solid.
The offense produced just enough for the win.
Woodstock Academy put points on the board first.
The Centaurs forced the Whippets to punt on their first possession and the problems began early.
Windham’s quarterback and punter Jovan Almodovarr had to deal with a low snap and was forced to run the football.
He was knocked out of bounds before midfield but a late hit moved the ball down to the 37-yard line of the Centaurs.
Fortunately for Woodstock Academy, it was still shy of a first down.
The Centaurs mixed the run and pass effectively and got down to Windham’s 4-yard line.
But a holding call pushed the ball back and Woodstock Academy stalled on the 8-yard line.
The Centaurs called on kicker Aidan Morin who, for the second week in a row, delivered a field goal, this one from 25 yards out with 4:51 left in the opening quarter.
The 3-0 lead held until the beginning of the second quarter.
Windham started a drive on their own 41-yard line late in the first quarter.
It took 13 plays and over five minutes before Juan Flores danced in from two yards out. A two-point conversion by Jacob Santiago gave the Whippets (0-2) an 8-3 lead.
The Centaurs were forced to punt on their possession but didn’t give up the ball for long.
A Windham fumble was recovered by Morin at the 44-yard line of the Whippets.
A series of stops-and-starts by the Centaurs offense, gain nine yards on a run, lose eight yards on a sack, finally led to a 4th-and-goal at the Windham 2-yard line.
The Centaurs went for it, but senior Travis White was barred from the end zone by the Windham defense.
The Whippets got the ball back but never left the shadow of their own goalposts, if there had been a shadow.
With 32 seconds left, the Centaurs defense accounted for two points when Seth Libby tackled Santiago (17 carries, 70 yards) for a safety.
The play meant the first half ended with a score more suited for baseball, 8-5, in favor of the Whippets.
Against Ledyard, Woodstock Academy was down by seven at the half but responded quickly by scoring on the first possession of the second half.
The Centaurs had to wait a little longer against Windham.
The first possession resulted in a punt but Windham again obliged and coughed up the football with Gavin Savoie falling on the football at the Whippets’ 48.
Up to that point, senior receiver Nick Bedard, bothered by a bad back and being double-covered by Windham, had been silent.
Quarterback Ethan Davis ended that drought.
His first pass to Bedard was broken up by Windham’s Jayden Villafane.
Facing a third down and 11 yards, Davis looked for Bedard again and found him with yardage good enough for the first down.
A 3-yard run by Savoie and a 16-yard keeper by Davis (7 carries, 70 yards) moved the ball to the 19-yard line.
But an illegal block on the play pushed it back to the 29.
Davis wasn’t fussed.
The left-handed sophomore found Bedard again and the receiver reeled in the touchdown pass to put the Centaurs up for good, 12-8.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” Bedard said. “It’s my last season playing football, scoring that touchdown and having everyone run over to me felt pretty awesome.”
It, unfortunately, wasn’t over.
Miranda still had a big role to play.
After Windham punted and Woodstock Academy turned the ball over on downs at the Windham 36-yard line, the Whippets had one last gasp.
Almodovarr, who completed only two passes in five attempts, found Enrique Garcia for an 18-yard pass to the 41 of Woodstock Academy and a roughing call moved the Whippets to the 26. But Windham went backwards from there and found itself with a fourth down play back at the 41.
Almodovarr stepped back and launched downfield for Garcia.
Bedard fell down on the play and, for a moment, Garcia had a chance.
But Miranda came flying in, blocked Garcia’s vision and the ball hit off the receiver and fell to the ground.
Davis was up-and-down all game.
He completed 12-of-21 passes for 131 yards.
“He made some mistakes (Saturday) as a sophomore quarterback that he will learn from, more than he did last week. But that’s what I love about him. I can coach him, I can rip him if I need to and he just continues to play ball,” Saucier said.
Davis made the play that sealed the win.
On second and long with 2 ½ minutes to play, it looked like Davis would go down in the backfield.
He scrambled out of it, ran to his left, and somehow found Bedard at the Windham 10.
On the next play, Savoie (16 carries, 39 yards) got the insurance touchdown.
“Fourth quarter is Gavin Savoie-time. He’s my guy,” Saucier said with a smile.
Woodstock Academy’s only win last season was a 41-6 victory over Amistad Academy.
The Centaurs travel to New Haven to face Amistad (0-1) at noon on Saturday.
Centaurs excited after 1st win, 31-27, over Ledyard
The final buzzer had just sounded.
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs football team was hooting and hollering, celebrating a 31-27 win over Eastern Connecticut Conference mainstay, Ledyard, on the Colonels home field Friday.
That was with the notable exception of one.
Woodstock Academy senior Luis Miranda was on his hands and knees in front of the Woodstock Academy sideline.
Exhaustion was not his problem.
Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier came over, stood over him and told him twice, “We’re there.”
The Centaurs football program had arrived.
“Just thinking about it still gets me choked up,” Saucier said about that moment. “He’s been grinding for the last four years. He had some varsity time as a freshman and I took over when he was a sophomore. He was one of the ones I put out against Killingly as sophomores and was just praying no one got hurt.”
The work that Miranda and his fellow seniors put in at the weight room and the commitment and attitude that they have displayed has started to pay dividends.
“He was crying. I don’t think he believed it, but when it actually happened, it’s overwhelming,” Saucier said.
Miranda said it was a bit hard to fathom.
He had seen a program do a complete 180.
“We’ve had a lot of struggles as a team and in this offseason, it felt different. Working out since December with a lot of the guys through the spring and summer and then football camp with the whole team together, it felt different. The mood and attitude of the guys to prove that we’re back in the ECC and we’re a different team just felt great,” Miranda said.
Not only back.
But also competitive.
It’s true, Ledyard had just two wins last season.
In the minds of those in the program, that matters little.
“It’s Ledyard. I grew up hearing about Ledyard and their legendary coaches over the years. There is a lot of respect for Ledyard football and to see Woodstock Academy on the winning end next to Ledyard, I don’t care what year it is, it’s a very special thing for the community,” Saucier said.
It was the first ECC victory for the Centaurs since Sept. 27, 2014 when they downed St. Bernard, 35-14.
It didn’t come easy.
The Centaurs had always seemed to be one touchdown behind the Colonels.
But they also always seemed to have an answer.
Ledyard scored on its first dive of the game.
After the Centaurs punted on their first possession, they forced Ledyard to do the same.
It didn’t go so well.
A mishandled punt snap resulted in the Centaurs getting the ball at the Colonels 36-yard line.
Senior slash Nick Bedard went backwards four yards on an end around.
He quickly made up for that.
Sophomore quarterback Ethan Davis (14-for-20, 201 yards passing) found Bedard behind the defensive secondary and got him the ball for a 40-yard touchdown pass.
“He’s so fast, so athletic, that works for me,” Davis said of his receiver who finished with six catches for 114 yards.
Ledyard answered on its next possession to go up, 14-7, and the Centaurs had to survive two scary situations.
The first was a successful onside kick by the Colonels which gave them the ball on the Centaurs 48-yard line.
Ledyard went one yard in four plays.
The Centaurs took over on their own 47 and went only three plays before Davis made one of his few mistakes, Caden Foote stepped in front of one of his passes and Ledyard had the ball back on its own 37.
Again, the Centaurs defense stepped up and were able to get the ball on the ground where it was scooped up by Seth Libby.
On the next play, Saucier went for it.
He had Davis look for Bedard over the top again and the sophomore delivered a play that went 31 yards to the Ledyard 3-yard line.
Three plays later, Bedard went around the left side, but as he was about to cross the goal line, the ball popped from his hands, right into the waiting arms of teammate Trey Ayotte literally sitting in the end zone to tie the score thanks to a second extra point by first-year senior kicker Aidan Morin.
Ledyard was forced to punt again and the Centaurs began a march down the field.
Nine plays got them down to the Ledyard 25-yard line but time was running out and Davis had to throw.
Jaiden Bickham was glad he did.
The ball went right into the Ledyard defensive back’s hands at the Woodstock Academy 20-yard line.
In front of him was only green, no one wearing the blue-and-gold.
Bickham scored on the pick-6 as time expired in the first half.
“We weren’t happy that we gave up the 80-yard interception but we knew that it wasn’t the end of the game. We knew that we had another half of football. We knew our defense was playing better and our offense was starting to click. We were getting some holes from the line and Ethan Davis was feeling more comfortable. I knew that we would produce. I just wanted to see it through,” Miranda said.
The Centaurs produced on the first drive of the second half.
It didn’t start well.
Davis was sacked for a loss of five on the first play of the second half. He was then forced from the pocket and gained only a yard and to make matters worse, the Centaurs were then called for offside and were facing a third-and-19 on their own 12.
Davis hit Miranda for 21 yards.
Two runs and four passes later, junior Gavin Savoie (10 carries, 49 yards) scored from a yard out.
“I think that was the turning point, the key drive in the whole game,” Saucier said.
Bedard then picked Ledyard quarterback Brayden Grim and returned the ball to the Ledyard 15.
The Centaurs stalled at the 11-yard line.
Saucier gave Morin the chance.
He split the uprights with a field goal from 28-yards out.
“That was a game changer,” Saucier said.
Ledyard did forge ahead, 27-24, with 9:15 left.
It didn’t faze Davis.
He guided the Centaurs down the field and put the game away on a 13-yard pass play to Travis White.
It capped off a rather impressive debut for the young signalcaller.
“I don’t think they needed much confidence in him,” Saucier said. “I think the way he conducts himself, the effort he puts in, and his consistency, he had the team’s respect in going in. What I love is that he makes mistakes and there is no nonsense, no getting down on himself, no self-absorbed pity. He just figures it out and moves on.”
The Centaurs now move on to Game 2.
They host Windham in their home opener at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
“I think we can keep the momentum going. We did a good job in a lot of areas but there is always places to improve. We’re just going to rep it out in practice, improve on those things, and be an even better team,” Miranda said.
Good vibes for Centaurs football team
Those are the words used by Woodstock Academy football coach and athletic director Sean Saucier to describe the atmosphere surrounding his football program right now.
“The kids that are here started something last year, especially the younger ones, There was an incredible vibe on the froshmore team last year. They finished with a winning record, and five or six of those kids are now with us and they’re bringing it with them,” Saucier said.
The varsity program finished with only one win in 10 games.
But that hardly affected turnout.
The Centaurs had some 74 come out for the beginning of practice.
That was the largest turnout among teams in Northeastern Connecticut.
The majority of those have hung with the program through conditioning, meaning it’s unlikely many will depart now.
It also means the Centaurs have a good, solid, young core with 20-plus players from both the freshman and sophomore ranks working to climb the ladder.
The varsity team will eventually be the beneficiary of all those young bodies, but it’s not faring too badly either.
“It’s going pretty well,” said senior Luis Miranda. “We’ve been getting a lot of stuff in. I’m really liking what I’m seeing. I like the new offense that we have. The new defense is great. I feel like we have a really complete team this year. I think we can make a good run.”
Saucier has especially been pleased with the skill position players the Centaurs have.
It begins with a new quarterback.
Sophomore Ethan Davis takes over the offense from the Derek Thompson/Nick Bedard combination.
“I’m really confident in (Davis’) ability to throw. He has a great arm. He’s tall, taller than I am. He has all the internal motivation that you could ask for as a player,” Saucier said.
The Centaurs finished with just over 1,000 yards in passing last year with Thompson (88-for-162) getting 971 of those yards and seven touchdowns.
Saucier is probably looking for some bigger numbers this season.
The Centaurs have some targets to work with including Miranda (28 catches, 263 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Bedard (7 catches, 100 yards). Trey Ayotte, Bryce Lambert and Dan Suitam will also serve as receivers and the backfield corps can also catch the ball.
Davis’ ascension to the starting role also opens the door for Saucier to use Bedard in more of a “slash” role.
His primary position will be slot receiver but don’t be shocked to see the senior behind center or in the backfield.
Bedard completed 27 of his 45 passing attempts last year and also rushed for 346 yards, second-best on the team in addition to his receiving responsibilities.
“If Nick does need to play quarterback, that’s not a bad option. But, this allows us to use Nick and his speed and play-making abilities on the field,” Saucier said.
Gavin Savoie (71 carries, 348 yards), the team’s leading rusher, will again be in the backfield, teamed with Ian Welz (50-200). Travis White, who did carry the ball 16 times for 93 yards, will be the big back.
“We’re trying to preserve both Ian and Gavin. They will split some carries and we’re trying not to play those guys on both sides of the ball,” Saucier said.
The big question mark rests up front.
The line was hit pretty hard by graduation.
Blake Kollbeck, Jack Hovestadt, Nathan Price and Patrick Barrows are all gone.
Currently, sophomore Everett Michalski is starting at left tackle with junior C.J. Burrows on the right side.
Senior J.J. Bain has been doing well as the anchor of the line at center with classmate Gavin Lanning at left guard and another senior, Seth Libby, likely starting at right guard.
“They are learning a lot. I think the spot where we need to be the most patient and the best teachers is the offensive line,” Saucier said.
Defensively, the linebackers will have to shoulder a lot of the burden.
The Centaurs are confident with that group which has White, starting for a third year, in the middle.
Bain will be alongside White in the middle with Savoie on the outside, splitting time with Welz, and Miranda will move from strong safety to the other outside backer.
“We stuck Luis on an edge and he’s been doing a nice job there,” Saucier said.
In the secondary, Bedard returns at cornerback with Suitam at safety and Lambert at the other corner.
Once again, the trenches are the concern.
Burrows, Ayotte and Libby will work on the ends but the middle is a little questionable.
“We have a couple of different alignments that takes a lineman off the field and puts another backer on,” Saucier said.
The Centaurs final tuneup for the season also produced a positive result, a 37-8 win over Quinebaug Valley in a scrimmage on Friday.
The Centaurs open the regular season at 6 p.m. Friday night on the road at Ledyard.