Thanksgiving Day next up for Centaurs
It’s one of those high school traditions unique to the Northeast.
High school football games on Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s special to play on Thanksgiving Day,” said Woodstock Academy athletic director and football coach Sean Saucier. “There are inconveniences that come along with it, obviously, for a lot of people but when you stop and think of the tradition and that it’s for the kids. Hopefully, we are giving them an experience they will not forget. Certainly when you are a senior and play on Thanksgiving Day – you do not forget it.”
The Centaurs will finish up the regular season against Eastern Connecticut Conference and local rival, Killingly, at home.
Due to the parking issues that would be in evidence had the game been played at the Bentley Athletic Complex, the game will instead be played at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. at 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.
“It’s going to be great for the kids and it’s exciting for us, too. (Woodstock Academy Director of Alumni Relations) Brad Favreau has put a lot of time into organizing the whole thing and meeting with Nichols College and it has been gracious in its accommodations for us. It’s really neat and I think it will be a better experience for everyone than trying to cram in at Bentley. It’s something new and, hopefully, it will be memorable,” Saucier said.
Tickets for the game must be purchased online at https://gofan.co/app/school/CT17520
The Centaurs will come in with a 4-5 record while Killingly is 8-1.
“They’re one of the top 10 teams in the state but it’s nothing new for us. We know how to rally and prepare. We had a team meeting (Thursday) to put Enfield behind us and focus on Thanksgiving. We will be there, will compete and will try to win a football game,” Saucier said.
The problem with stopping Killingly is multi-faceted.
Saucier remembers a time when if an opponent could contain the Killingly running game, it had a good chance of doing well.
Not so anymore.
Killingly quarterback Thomas Dreibholz has completed 72 percent of his passes (1,346 yards) this season and thrown for 24 touchdowns.
Ben Jax has been his favorite target as the junior has reeled in 14 of those touchdown passes and has 25 catches in total for 811 yards this season.
That goes without mentioning running back Soren Reif who has rushed for 1,517 yards and 22 scores.
“It’s a lot to take into account but we’ve played a lot of good teams with a lot of good players so you just have to play sound defense, tackle, and probably take some calculated risks and let the chips fall where they may,” Saucier said.
Woodstock Academy counters with a strong passing game as junior Teddy Richardson has thrown for 1,442 yards this season and 13 touchdowns.
His favorite target has been senior Carter Saracina who has made 33 catches for 765 yards and eight scores.
Lucas Theriaque has 24 catches and a pair of scores while Brandon Nagle has reeled in 15 passes and scored three times.
The running game will have to be solid for Woodstock Academy as it has been inconsistent this season.
Trevor Savoie leads the Centaurs with 351 yards rushing, Richardson is next at 343.
Centaurs fall to Enfield in completion of suspended game
Woodstock Academy took care of some unfinished business Wednesday as the suspended game with Enfield was completed.
The game began on Sept. 9 but was suspended when Woodstock Academy quarterback Braiden Saucier suffered a medical emergency.
Fortunately, the senior was back on the sidelines on Wednesday in Enfield, but the Eagles proved to be a bit too much for the Centaurs as the Class LL school posted the 42-19 victory.
For Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier, Braiden’s father, while it was a loss, it was important to finish up.
“From the team aspect, going to Enfield, seeing that team and being able to talk to their coaches, the same officials and some of the same medical crew- it was a very nice experience,”Saucier said. “It was good to go there and get some closure to the whole event. That’s what it did for our players, their players, my family, and a lot of the workers. A lot of people experienced what happened. The officials and medical staff were pretty affected by the whole thing so it was nice to see familiar faces again, see smiles and give hugs. It was a nice way to wrap up that whole experience.”
The game, because it was suspended, began in an unusual fashion.
The Centaurs trailed, 14-7, with seven seconds left in the first quarter.
Prior to the suspension of the game, Enfield quarterback Christian Benvenuto found receiver Nick D’Onofrio with an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first offensive series for the Eagles (2-7).
Austin Amlaw tied the game for the Centaurs on a 5-yard run.
But the Eagles went up before the end of the quarter when Arthur D’Onofrio won a battle for the football on a pass and raced down the sidelines for a 20-yard pick-6.
Enfield ran one play on Wednesday and the first quarter was over.
“We blinked and it was halftime. It was a very quick second quarter on top of the odd start,” Saucier said. “They ran a bubble screen and the next thing you know, they were flipping the chains. It was a Wednesday night, a really odd night, there wasn’t a huge crowd. From a football perspective, the whole thing was a little bizarre.”
Enfield picked up where it left off when the game resumed.
Benvenuto led the Eagles downfield on their first offensive possession and scored on an 8-yard run .
Woodstock Academy had to punt on its first two possessions following the resumption but had Enfield backed up on its own 7-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Centaurs, Nick D’Onofrio, operating out of the Wildcat, scrambled out of contain, found a lane down the right sideline and outran the defense for a 93-yard score which gave the Eagles a 28-7 lead at halftime.
“That was the backbreaker,” Saucier said. “It was 3rd-and-25 from (the 7-yard line) but the fastest kid on the field got the ball and gets a little space and you can’t catch him. You have to tackle him early and we didn’t. It was a smart play by them; put the ball in your best player’s hands and let him go.”
The Centaurs answered in their first possession of the second half with quarterback Teddy Richardson (10-for-15 passing, 185 yards) finding Seamus McDermott for a 32-yard strike to the Enfield 31. Three running plays later, the Centaurs faced a 4th-and-1 and converted when Richardson hit Lucas Theriaque (3 catches, 33 yards) with a 20-yard pass to the 2-yard line.
McDermott finished off the drive with a 2-yard score out of the Wildcat formation.
Enfield answered with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Benvenuto in the third quarter and he added a 5-yard scoring strike in the fourth.
The Centaurs finished up the scoring when Carter Saracina (7 catches, 137 yards) got open down the left sideline and Richardson hit him with a 25-yard pass with 7:02 left to play.
Enfield held on to the football for the remainder of the contest.