BEACON FALLS — Woodland High football coach Chris Moffo was excited before the season about the depth his Hawks had in the backfield.
Now, after a rash of injuries to Woodland’s running backs, Moffo is especially proud of a freshman who stepped in to help spur his team to a second consecutive victory last week.
Rookie Nick Rousseau ran for nearly 200 yards and three touchdowns last Friday as Woodland downed Torrington, 39-28.
“He’s been stepping up,” Woodland coach Chris Moffo said. “I didn’t want to use him at all (this season at the varsity level). I wanted him to play freshman and JV this year and take his lumps. I never thought with the backfield we had that we’d have this many injuries. You look at the depth chart and the last one standing is a freshman — he did a great job.”
The game got off to a worrisome start for Woodland (4-4) after Torrington speedster Dylan Myrie broke loose for a long touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. But Rousseau responded on the Hawks’ first play, snapping off a 70-yard touchdown run.
From there, Woodland pulled away and held off the Red Raiders (2-6).
“We made key stops when we needed to and we executed very well,” Moffo said.
Injuries to other running backs, including Zach Kabusk and Ben Nuss, have left the Hawks thin in the backfield. Another injury on the offensive line to Josh Hassan left Woodland with another hole, which junior Derek Cha has filled and has been “doing great,” Moffo said.
Despite that adversity, Woodland has strung together its first winning streak in two years. It began two weeks ago with a thrilling upset of St. Paul, which entered that game with just one defeat.
A pair of victories has resulted in a much different attitude on the team, Moffo said, and the young players getting time at various positions is a great for the program’s growth.
“The boys are believing,” Moffo said. “They’re in tune at practice and they’re focused. The sophomores we have playing, they’re getting valuable time and they’re getting better each week. They’re growing as players.”
Woodland will host its final home game of the season Thursday against Kennedy. The Hawks gained their only win of 2016 against the Eagles, and a win in this year’s matchup would assure Woodland of a .500 season.
“We’re not looking past anyone,” said Moffo, whose team will wrap up the season Thanksgiving eve at Seymour with a chance to keep the Wildcats from making the state playoffs. “We have to take care of business.”