Moffo settling into interim role

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TORRINGTON — Jess Moffo entered her 10th game as interim head coach at Woodland on Tuesday night. And she seems quite comfortable.

Moffo is filling in for Gail Cheney, who is taking the season off after the birth of her first child.  But don’t be fooled; Moffo is not a stranger to the sidelines.

After five years as an assistant at Wolcott with Rick Laferriere, Moffo has spent the last five at Woodland. That experience has served her well, especially her time with Cheney.

“The transition to head coach has been easy for me,” Moffo said. “Gail gave me a lot a leeway and let me run some practices.”

On Tuesday night, Moffo paced the sidelines, shouted out plays and worked to inspire her players like a seasoned coach. After the 63-39 loss to the Red Raiders, her postgame comments to the team had an encouraging tone.

Woodland trailed, 38-15, at the half. But outscored Torrington, 15-13, in the third as the Hawks never quit.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of them,” Moffo said of her team.

Moffo has also appreciated her players, who have understood her situation. She inherited a young team that lost most of its experienced players from last season, including the program’s leading scorer, Heather Framski, and All-NVL Brass guard Lindsay Feducia, who both play at St. Joseph College in West Hartford.

“The kids have made it easy for me,” Moffo said. “I never have to yell and there’s no drama to deal with because we have good kids.”

So, what’s been the biggest difference going from assistant to decision-maker?

“The varsity game is a lot faster than the JV game,” Moffo said. “The pace of the game is quicker.”

Ironically, Moffo’s first game at the helm took place at home against Wolcott and Laferriere.  Despite the 48-25 loss, Woodland trailed by only four at the half against the Eagles, who are 9-2 and lead the Brass Division.

“It was definitely nerve-racking to play him,” said Moffo, a 2001 Wolcott grad. “But we played competitively.”

At 3-7, the Hawks still have hopes of earning a state tournament berth, which the team has achieved in each year of its varsity existence. The loss to Torrington on Tuesday night didn’t dampen Woodland’s spirits.

Moffo made it clear to the team that there’s still half a season left and lot that can still be accomplished.

“The players have shown tremendous effort and we’re gaining experience,” Moffo said.