ENFIELD — On a cold, rainy Saturday morning at Public Safety Academy, the Lyman Hall football team overcame the elements as well as its locker room issues to defeat the CREC Co-op 20-6.
With several players, including the four senior captains, not in action due to a recent incident that also kept head coach Aidan Lynch off the sidelines, junior quarterback/captain Nick Santello and the assistant coaching staff, led by interim head coach Bruce Haney, directed the Trojans to their first victory of the season in a non-league matchup with the Colts.
The game was filled with fumbles by both teams — not surprising, giving the conditions — but it was Lyman Hall that cashed in the most on the miscues to improve to 1-5.
The Trojans also benefitted from the return of several players from injury, including highly touted sophomore Louis Ferri, who made several key defensive plays and scored the final touchdown on a 17-yard run. This helped LH overcome the loss of its four senior captains.
“We had players come back who had been hurt since Week 1,” Haney said. “We had some playmakers come back, so that was huge. Louis Ferri, Harry Febbriello, even Connor Avallone, coming back healthy this week for this game kind of completed the pieces we were missing, to help fill that void with the depth.
“Having these guys back helped build the confidence among the team,” Haney added. “The team bonded and they played as a family, as we have all year. The pieces finally fell together today.”
The scoring began toward the latter part of the first quarter. Drew McClure blocked a CREC punt in CREC territory and it was recovered on the fly by fellow junior defensive lineman Tim Hettrich. That set up a one-yard QB sneak for a touchdown by Santello, making it 6-0.
CREC answered early in the second quarter with a 19-yard run from senior running back Quetin Vaught, who had some very strong runs throughout the game.
A pair of Lyman Hall fumbles in the second quarter helped keep the score at 6-6 at halftime.
In the second half, the Trojans came out strong. They were relentless on offense and tough to crack on defense.
A long scoring drive to open the third quarter featured nice runs by junior running back Randy McFarline as well as a great throw-and-catch on a comeback route from Santello to Matt Morales. Lyman Hall punched in a score from three yards out courtesy of fullback Austin Ruiz, making it 13-6 once Joe Naumenko booted the PAT.
CREC (1-5) had multiple chances to tie the game. The Colts got a long kickoff return after the go-ahead score by Ruiz only to be twice thwarted by Ferri. The sophomore first showed his speed in making a TD-saving tackle on the kick return, then showed his grit in recovering a fumble at the LH 14.
CREC squandered yet another opportunity with yet another fumble — this time at the Lyman Hall 2 — early fourth quarter. Avallone had the recovery on that one, his second of the game.
The next time the Colts coughed it up was on their own 10-yard line, and that was fatal. The recovery by junior Andres Godinez led to the dagger: a 17-yard touchdown on a toss to the left for Ferri.
The Trojans officially closed out the game with a Febbriello interception in the closing seconds.
Haney stressed that the team “wins as a family” and this seems to be the Trojans’ motto going forward as they try to play through the recent adversity.
“All year, adversity’s been happening. We were able to overcome that hump,” Haney said. “We just needed to believe in each other and come together. These past couple weeks have pushed us to where we needed to be.”