This time, Waterford's progress shows on the scoreboard

Waterford's Dan Annibalini (10) fights for a few more yards against Montville's Chris Connors (21) during Thursday's high school football game. Waterford won the game, played on its home field, 37-19. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Waterford's Dan Annibalini (10) fights for a few more yards against Montville's Chris Connors (21) during Thursday's high school football game. Waterford won the game, played on its home field, 37-19. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Waterford — There were many times last season when coach John Strecker saw progress. It’s just that it was never illustrated in the most important place of all: the scoreboard.

And so while Strecker and the rest of Waterford High School walked off the home turfed lawn Thursday night with a 3-6 record, there was this much: more tangible signs of progress.

The Lancers, winless a season ago, earned a 37-19 win over rival Montville, their third win of the season and first on their home field in two years.

“This feels a whole lot better,” said senior running back Marcus Elliott, who scored on a 10-yard run in the third period. “Losing is hard. Not winning on this field in two years is hard. But this right here is a great feeling. I feel like we showed tonight how good we can be.”

Elliott and Marcus Lovell scored second-half touchdowns for the Lancers, who added to their 22-12 halftime lead.

But it was how they arrived at the halftime lead that might have won them the game.

Waterford, leading 15-12, managed to complete a pass and call timeout with two seconds left in the half. The clock originally ran out, but the officials added two seconds, which was just enough time for quarterback Ryan Bakken.

Bakken hit Niko Thibeault with a 43-yard touchdown pass on the final play, sending Waterford flying into the locker room.

“That was a tough one,” Montville coach Tanner Grove said. “We told the kids to play a little loose and that they’ll probably go for the end zone. Their kid made a nice play.”

Waterford, trailing 12-7 in the first half, scored 30 unanswered points until Ryan Douchette’s touchdown late in the game for Montville.

“You can’t question the effort of these kids. It’s just that sometimes we haven’t executed well,” Strecker said. “This was a night when we executed well. They’re seeing a payoff for the work they’re putting in.”

Bakken also hit Dan Annibalini with a touchdown pass in the first half from 40 yards that gave Waterford the lead for good.

“The Waterford that used to line up and have a 1,000-yard rusher every year when Dave (former coach Dave Sousa) was here is way in the past,” Strecker said. “We have to do things a little differently now. The kids are starting to get it now and understanding the preparation.”

The Lancers are home on Thanksgiving Day to neighbor East Lyme.

m.dimauro@theday.com

 

 

 

 

 

Montville's Marcus Velez (19) catches a long pass against Waterford's Niko Thibeault (4) after the ball was tipped in the air during Thursday's high school football game at Waterford. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Montville's Marcus Velez (19) catches a long pass against Waterford's Niko Thibeault (4) after the ball was tipped in the air during Thursday's high school football game at Waterford. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Waterford's Marcus Lovell, right, looks downfield as he attempts to twist away from the tackle by Montville's Ryan Champagne during Thursday's high school football game. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Waterford's Marcus Lovell, right, looks downfield as he attempts to twist away from the tackle by Montville's Ryan Champagne during Thursday's high school football game. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Montville's Jayden Long, left, runs the ball against Waterford during Thursday's high school football game. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Montville's Jayden Long, left, runs the ball against Waterford during Thursday's high school football game. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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