BEACON FALLS — Only six teams in the state accomplished what the Woodland defense managed to do during the first two weeks of the high school football season.
The Hawks’ shutouts of Torrington and Wilby to open the season put them on an exclusive list that also included Naugatuck, Berlin, Bloomfield, Windham and O’Brien Tech as the only teams to open the year without allowing any points.
“I’m pleased with our defensive play,” Woodland coach Chris Moffo said. “We got back to the basics so they can be sound. We want them to be prepared so they can play fast and not think too much.”
Despite outscoring their first two opponents by a combined score of 84-0, Moffo maintained that there were plenty of improvements to be made from what he saw to open the season.
“We did OK. There are a lot of things that we have to clean up,” Moffo said. “We did well in the first few games, but there’s always room for improvement. We have a lot of work to do if we want to get where we want to be. We have to work on our basics.”
The young offensive line was a point of emphasis for the Hawks during the preseason. Senior center Josh Hassan and senior tight end Joe Shea were the only returners from that group, but newcomers Alek Tolboe, Jason Hicks, Pete Rosato and Ryan Knobel have improved in their starting roles so far.
“Because of all the kids we graduated up front, we need to keep improving up there,” Moffo said. “Those kids need to keep improving and jell together. We only brought back two of the front six, but they’re doing well. They’re learning from their mistakes.”
Some freshmen have also contributed early in the season. Rookie running back Jason Palmieri carried seven times for 51 yards and added five tackles in the opening win over Torrington. Brett Barrett, Michael Bunce, Jason D’Angelo and Joe DeDomenico were also among the underclassmen who saw playing time and got themselves on the stat sheet against the Red Raiders and Wildcats.
“The play by our underclassmen (has been a surprise),” Moffo said. “They’re taking on some big roles and they’re coming along. They’re developing each week.”
The standout component of Woodland’s success, though, has been the effort of senior running back Edit Krivca. He rushed 21 times for 281 yards and four touchdowns against Torrington and cruised again in an easy, 49-0 win over Wilby in which the Hawks bolted out to a 35-0 first-quarter lead.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back and defensive back is one of four captains with Hassan, Shea and Carter Amore.
“Edit is a tough kid,” Moffo said. “He comes to work every day and punches the clock. We have a solid corps of seniors who do that every day. Edit is a leader by example, on the field and off the field. That kid does it all. The core group of seniors we have does the same thing. They’re a good group of guys.”
Woodland continues a three-game homestand Friday against Derby. The Hawks will host Wolcott next Friday in what could be their biggest test of the first month. Woodland hasn’t beaten the Eagles since 2006.