WALLINGFORD — A big story line for Sheehan football coming into the 2017 season was the loss of Zach Davis.
The record-breaking running back now playing Division I football at Fordham University wreaked havoc on opposing defenses. How would Sheehan manage to replace his monster production? In his senior year alone, Davis piled up 3,588 rushing yards and 52 touchdowns.
Rather than attempt the impossible task of replacing Davis with one guy, Sheehan is attempting to recreate his production with several guys. Those new contributors on the ground are three sophomores: Terrence Bogan, Russ Rutkowski and Zach Davis’ younger brother, Jordan Davis.
All three had strong games in Friday night’s season-opening 41-26 win over Jonathan Law. Bogans had a 200-yard game — 203 on 22 carries, to be exact — and scored two touchdowns, including a 74-yarder. Rutkowski rushed 12 times for 46 yards and one TD.
Davis factored into both the run and pass games. He was 16-113 on the ground and caught two passes for 68 yards, including one for a touchdown.
With returning junior quarterback Wes Terzi, the Titans are passing the ball more. Terzi was an ultra-efficient 7-for-9 for 210 yards and one touchdown. That’s an average of 30 yards a completion.
Along with his two connections with Davis, Terzi hooked up three times with junior Aaron Simmons for 60 yards. Senior Evan Mansfield hauled in two passes for 82 yards.
“We have more of a balanced attack and it keeps other teams honest,” said Terzi. “So far things are going great. We have three really good running backs who are sophomores. Our receivers Aaron Simmons and Evan Mansfield are huge contributors to our offense.”
This new balanced attack worked marvelously throughout the first half Friday night. The Titans lit up the scoreboard with 34 unanswered points.
The defense was outstanding throughout the first half as well. Law didn’t even manage to move the chains over the 50-yard line in the first half. In addition, T.J. DiPasquale recovered a muffed punt deep in Law territory, which led to a Sheehan score.
Everything was clicking for the Titans. On the very first drive, Terzi settled in by connecting with Davis for a pass for 56 yards that led to Rutkowski’s touchdown.
Sheehan’s balanced attack kept Law’s defense off-balance. It seemed anytime Law would start to figure out the running game, Terzi would connect with one of his receivers for a big gain.
In turn, having to keep the deep ball in mind allowed Davis and Bogan to run wild. Bogan, on his 74-yard TD run, took a handoff up the middle and blew past Law’s defense entirely.
The second half was a different story. Law came out fighting with 20 unanswered points.
Just when it looked like Sheehan was missing the shine of Zach Davis’ star power, Sheehan stepped up in all three phases of the game. DiPasquale recovered his second muffed punt of the night, killing Law’s momentum. Terzi connected on two long passes with Mansfield before surprising everyone by rushing into the right side of the end zone from 10 yards out.
That score was the dagger in the 41-26 final.
“We were resilient,” said Sheehan head coach John Ferrazzi. “Law came out firing in the second half. Tip my hat off to them and credit them for that, but in the end, when it mattered most, we came through and finished the job.
“We might be a young team, but this young team is ready to play,” Ferrazzi added. “They’re going to fight, they’re going to scratch and they’re going to claw, and it’s not going to be long before they’re playing like they’re not young anymore.”
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