BEACON FALLS — Woodland High sophomore Coby Vaccarelli is accustomed to taking advantage of opportunities.
So when sophomore tailback Sean McAllen went down with an injury Tuesday night, Vaccarelli was summoned to the offensive role in the second half.
Vaccarelli responded with three rushing touchdowns, two in the third quarter, to help the Hawks to a 47-21 victory over Morgan in the Class S state football quarterfinals. Woodland will play in Saturday’s semifinals at 2 p.m. against Bloomfield at Wolcott High.
“Coby got a little taste by scoring a touchdown against Seymour (last week), and he was ready to go in that situation,” Woodland coach Tim Shea said. “He did his job and that was what was expected out of him.”
McAllen left the game Tuesday with what were thought to be concussion-like symptoms. Shea said Wednesday that McAllen had not been fully evaluated yet, and his status for Saturday’s game was not yet known.
In 2012, Vaccarelli earned a starting role as a freshman at cornerback and also saw considerable time as a role receiver to complement Hawks standouts Anthony Scirpo and Rahmi Rountree.
Through the first five games last season, Vaccarelli was the third-leading tackler on the team and also among the team leaders in receptions.
It’s been quite a year for Vaccarelli, who watched idly by from the sidelines during last season’s CIAC postseason, unable to play due to a midseason serious right knee injury.
While his teammates were gearing up for a 2012 Thanksgiving eve game against Seymour, Vaccarelli was preparing for surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament. That occurred on Nov. 19, 2012.
Now that is all behind him.
“Coby is really excited to be in the playoffs this season and doesn’t mind making up for what he missed out on last year,” Shea said. “We had to hold him back and tell him to be patient. But once the season started, he was ready to go. You would never know that he had an injury by the way he plays.”
Just like when Vaccarelli was an incoming freshman.
“When we were in our first few series at the UNH camp (in the summer of 2012), I looked at Chris Moffo (Woodland’s defensive coach) and said, ‘That’s our corner,’” recalled Shea.