Woodland football overpowers Holy Cross

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BEACON FALLS — Woodland moved to 3-2 on the season after shutting out the Crusaders of Holy Cross, 19-0, last Friday night.

The Crusaders came in riding a two-game losing streak (31-0 to Ansonia and 34-21 to Torrington), and left the Woods with a three-game streak.

The Hawks, not intimated by the reigning NVL champs, jumped out a quick, 7-0 lead when return man Chris Williams took the game’s opening kickoff 85 yards for the score.

“Holy Cross is traditionally a big game for us,” said Woodland Coach Tim Shea. “Every time we play them, it’s always a hard-fought, physical game. The kids get up for it because they grew up and went to school with some of the HC kids.”

The Hawks usually rely on the arm, and perhaps more importantly, the legs, of quarterback Jack DeBiase to get things done on offense, and with 195 all-purpose yards, including two touchdowns, a 10-yard run and an 8-yard pass to Rami Roundtree, this game was no different.

“We expect Jack to show up every week and play and he expects himself to show up and play,” Shea said. “He does a lot of the little things like watch film, stay after practice for some extra work, and he makes himself and his teammates accountable for their play. By playing QB for us, he’s becoming a better student of the game.”

One of DeBiase’s favorite targets on Friday was receiver Roundtree, who had receptions for 73 yards, including a 49-yard catch and run. Roundtree has proven very effective in the Hawks’ passing game—he notched an 89-yard performance on four catches against Watertown the week before.

“Rami is getting more confident every week,” Shea said. “As he gets more confident, the more he’ll play. He had to step into the Wolcott game because of an injury and that forced him to grow up pretty quick, and it’s showed over the last couple of games.”

Woodland also got an exciting offensive performance from running back Craig Genz—in fact, he had his best statistical game of the year against Holy Cross. He was able to put together 95 yards on 10 carries, including a 22-yard scamper that helped the Hawks move the ball against a tired Crusaders defense.

More importantly, Genz broke out of a slump he’s been in the past three weeks. He gained more yards on the ground against Holy Cross than he has in his last three games combined (18, 2, and 56 yards).

“I know Craig wasn’t too happy on his performance the week before,” Shea said. “He said it wasn’t going to happen again. As a coach you’ve got to love a kid like that, and if he’s running well, why not keep giving it to him?”

Ian Bures, the Hawk’s massive tight end (6 feet, 4 inches; 210 pounds), also had some big contributions in Woodland’s offensive game plan, hauling in three receptions for 26 yards, but he didn’t stop there. Bures proved to be an animal on defense, racking up four of the team’s eight recorded tackles, including a 10-yard sack on Crusader quarterback Matt Czapor.

“Ian’s in the game plan every week,” noted coach Shea. “We like to use him because he is one of our better athletes, and most experienced. We try to get him some touches early to get him going.”

With the win, Woodland moves to 3-2 on the year, including a 2-0 record in the NVL Copper division, which is good for a current sixth-place standing. The Hawks will be heading to Torrington to face the 4-1 (2-1 Copper) Raiders. Torrington is riding a three-game winning streak, but Shea is ready for the challenge.

“Torrington is very well-coached, they play a physical brand of football, and the game is at their place,” he said. “Every week is going to be a battle for us.  Our offense is going to have to execute in the red zone. We’ve had some missed opportunities over the last couple of games, which we will get corrected. Defensively, we have to stop the run, which Torrington does very well, limit big plays, and get off of the field. Hopefully the kids play confident in all three phases of the game and finish.  If we do that, we feel we can be successful.”