Woodland snaps losing spell to Wolcott

Woodland wide receiver Mike Farina (14) runs for a touchdown as Wolcott’s Naythan Olmstead (23) gives chase Sept. 28 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. -BILL SHETTLE/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

BEACON FALLS — Most of Woodland’s football players weren’t even in kindergarten yet when the Hawks had last beaten Wolcott. It was way back in 2006, when current Woodland coach Chris Moffo was still an assistant coach for the Eagles — the team he played for in the late 1990s.

The next year, Moffo jumped ship and joined Chris Anderson’s staff at Woodland. Despite a bunch of excellent teams the Hawks fielded over the next decade, none of them were able to get the job done against Wolcott — and even if they wouldn’t say so, it ate away at Moffo and his players every time.

When Woodland finally broke that pesky losing spell with a 41-14 win over the Eagles on Sept. 28, a 12-year-old weight finally lifted from the Hawks’ wings.

“I’m dedicating this win to all of the former players who wore the Woodland jersey before me,” said Woodland senior running back Edit Krivca, who carried 20 times for 174 yards and four touchdowns. “This was a special game for our coach and for our team and program.”

It’s nearly impossible to get Moffo to talk about himself, so he wouldn’t reveal how personally fulfilling that long-awaited victory over his alma mater felt. But he made it clear how important the game was for his players.

“I was very happy for the kids to get that win off our back,” Moffo said. “We hadn’t beaten them in 12 years and the captains mentioned that every day that week.”

Woodland dominated the second half of the game, breaking a 14-14 tie by scoring four unanswered touchdowns after the break. Three of Krivca’s four touchdowns came after the Hawks and offensive coordinator Chris Anderson made some changes in the locker room.

“We adjusted some blocking schemes that allowed us to execute better, and defensively we were able to adjust what we were doing interior-wise,” Moffo said.

Krivca, who has been arguably the Naugatuck Valley League’s best running back through the first half of this season, wasn’t the only offensive star for Woodland. Junior quarterback Tyler Bulinski continued his strong early-season play by going 5-of-9 passing for 183 yards and two touchdowns — a 55-yarder to Mike Farina and an 88-yarder to Justin Marks.

“He’s been tremendous,” Moffo said of Bulinski. “Going into this season we expected Tyler’s role to increase substantially, and he’s really done very well with everything we’ve put on him. He is very coachable and he’s getting better and better every week.”

Woodland’s Tyler Bulinski (12) looks to pass the ball downfield to Justin Marks (11) versus Wolcott Sept. 28 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. -BILL SHETTLE/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

One of the keys to Bulinski’s success has been his cool personality and ability to facilitate the running game. Krivca’s skills in the backfield open up plenty of opportunities for deep strikes.

“My job is to make sure everyone is doing their job and to be on the same track,” said Bulinski. “It’s not just about me. It’s about everyone else. Everyone is contributing.”

Woodland’s 4-0 start to the season was its best since the Hawks opened the 2013 campaign with a 7-0 record. That season was also the last time Woodland qualified for the state playoffs, which looks like a possible destination for the Hawks again this fall.

They are set to visit St. Paul in a potentially tricky road game Friday but a win would allow Woodland to enjoy the midseason bye week with a 5-0 mark. Coming out of the bye, the Hawks face Sacred Heart-Kaynor Tech (Oct. 18) and Crosby (Oct. 26), a pair of teams that lost their first four games of the season before facing each other Oct. 5.

That could mean the Nov. 2 game Woodland hosts against Ansonia might pit a pair of 7-0 teams against each other — but that’s not a place Moffo even wants to consider just yet.

“We have to focus on ourselves,” Moffo said. “We have a lot of things that we can do better. Don’t get me wrong, our kids work very hard every day. We’re not easy to play for when it comes to how much we give them, but they come to work every day. We have a lot of things to improve upon if we want to get to where we want to be. We want to get to the point where we’re clicking on all cylinders and doing what we have to do to win games.”