This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published December 2, 2019
The Old Saybrook-Westbrook (OS-W) and Morgan football teams met up in their annual battle for the Shoreline Cup on Thanksgiving morning. The Rams used some big-time plays on defense to defeat the Huskies by the final score of 35-6 at Old Saybrook High School. This marked the 19th time that OS-W and Morgan played each other for the Shoreline Cup, and the Rams have now won the last four encounters between the Pequot Conference Sassacus Division rivals. OS-W finished its season with an overall record of 3-7 to go with a mark of 3-3 in the division. Morgan went 1-9 overall and 1-5 in divisional play.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Rams put two touchdowns and a pair of extra points on the board in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead when they hosted Morgan on Nov. 28. Morgan scored its only TD of the game in the third quarter to make it 14-6. The Rams responded with two more touchdowns and successful PATs to extend their lead to 28-6. OS-W tacked on another touchdown in the fourth quarter for the 35-6 final.
Rams’ Head Coach Mike Marone credited the stout blocking of seniors Norman Root, Nikko Rowell, and Matt Murphy, and sophomores Richard Potvin and Evan McIntyre on the offensive line, as well as senior Sean Wilcox at tight end, with playing a huge part in his squad’s victory.
“The offensive line is the whole reason we did as well as we did. They came off the ball and blocked like I’ve never seen,” said Coach Marone. “There’s something about Thanksgiving games, it doesn’t matter if one team is 1-9 and the other is 9-1, that game is going to be a battle.”
The Rams’ seniors contributed with some sizzling offense. OS-W’s first touchdown came thanks to a 13-yard run from Ed Fernandes Jr., who also caught a pass from senior captain Jack McDowell for a 24-yard touchdown in the third quarter. McDowell had a 12-yard run in the second quarter for a TD, and fellow senior captain Cooper Pavlovich scored on a 48-yard run in the third quarter, as well as on an 8-yard run in the fourth. Pavlovich was also successful on all five of his PATs.
“Cooper Pavlovich was the best player on the field. Every time Morgan tried to run, Cooper would stop them in their tracks. He was always there. He ran behind some good blocks. He’s a machine when he has the ball. He was five-for-five on extra points, too,” said Marone. “Jack played the best he’s ever played in our option game. He pulled it when he was supposed, and he gave it when he was supposed to and he looked like a real option quarterback. Ed Fernandes caught one from Jack and ran it in, and he just ran one in outright in the second quarter.”
The majority of the game was actually much closer than the final score indicated. Head Coach Peter Nye’s squad drew within a single score in the third quarter, when sophomore Garret Garbinski caught a pass from fellow sophomore quarterback Andrew Nye for a 45-yard touchdown. The Huskies stopped OS-W’s next drive and got back within striking distance of the end zone, but turned the ball over on an interception. Coach Nye thought that was the most pivotal moment of the game.
“We went down 14-0 at halftime, but we had a nice drive where we scored in the third. We had a defensive stop, and then we got into the red zone but gave up the ball,” said Nye. “If we scored there, it would have been a lot different. Then they got it to 21-6 instead of it possibly being 14-14. After that, we were scrambling. They had a nice drive in the third quarter where they ate up a lot of time on the clock, and after that, we had to take some chances.”
The risky plays and difficulty converting in the red zone led to some interceptions by the Rams. Some of that Coach Marone attributed to his defensive line’s solid play. Marone credited Potvin, Rowell, McIntyre, and Root on the other side of the ball as well for wreaking havoc in the backfield and pressuring Morgan’s young QB.
“Their quarterback is a sophomore, but he plays like a senior. He’s going to be very tough to stop down the road. Our defensive line played especially well. They only had one sack, but their quarterback is good at getting rid of the ball,” Marone said. “They did an exceptional job, and we had three interceptions in the game from Jack McDowell, Will Bergeron, and Eddy Fernandes.”
Coach Marone thought it was nice for Bergeron to get some tangible results in the form of the INT, because his senior captain more often makes his teammates look better with the way he plays the game.
“We have an unsung hero on the team, and that is Will Bergeron. Will wraps around and leads the way for Cooper and Eddy on offense,” Marone said. “He’s an unsung hero on both sides of the ball. He had a terrific game as the outside linebacker. He had an interception, and he almost took it back to the house.”
Coach Nye was disappointed in the result of the game, but he feels good about the program’s prospects in the future. The Huskies didn’t have a wealth of upperclassmen on the squad, and plenty of younger athletes received valuable experience this season. Nye is also proud of the way his seniors Liam Whelan, Diego Pelaez, and Benjamin Lichack have persevered through some lean years.
“The seniors have had one winning record in four years, and I’m proud of the fact that they stayed with it. Those kids pulled the sled through the darkness,” Nye said. “That’s a hard time, and they should be proud of that. Anybody can do it when things are going well. That’s a great way to go into life, knowing that you have to keep grinding.”
As for Morgan’s future, it should just be a matter of his guys getting stronger on both sides of the ball. Andrew Nye started seven games at quarterback and threw nearly 2,000 yards as a sophomore, but Coach Nye believes that the Huskies need to be a bit more versatile after establishing a good air game.
“Garret is a hard worker, and he plays aggressive and there are some things he’ll be working on too. People will be watching him the next couple of years, and Alex Fratemico’s turned the corner at receiver. Drew threw for 1,900 yards in seven games, but there are two ways to advance the ball, and we can’t just do one of them,” said Nye. “We struggled on defense this year, but we have the entire defense back next year. Having a year under their belt it’s time for them to start thinking about shutouts. We also have to improve our line play and be a little more aggressive at the point of attack.”
The Rams are also looking forward to making some strides next season, but they will be losing their fair share of seniors. Luckily, there are some young OS-W players waiting in the wings who cut their teeth this year. For now, Coach Marone and company are excited to hold onto the Shoreline Cup for another year.
“We knew going into this season that we were short a couple of players from being a team with a winning record. We had a bunch of players playing out of position, but we also had a few sophomores that played really well for us this year,” Marone said. “This was the fourth year in a row that we’ve won, so it was a four-peat for us. It great, and we’ve had the cup for four years now.”