BEACON FALLS — When you force the opposition’s punter to be one of the most active players on the field, chances are you’re having a good day.
Such was the case for the Woodland football squad Friday night, which stifled the visiting Kennedy Eagles and bounced back from a week-one defeat to notch a 21-6 win.
Woodland (1-1) held Kennedy (0-2) to just four first downs, all of which came in the first quarter, and 80 yards, 52 of which came on the Eagles’ last possession of the game.
A week after finding themselves on the losing end of a 41-36 offensive shootout with Ansonia, the Hawks regrouped and got back to basics. The coaching staff challenged the Hawks to complete a simple task: play better then they had in the opener.
“We came in with a confident, basic, game plan,” Coach Tim Shea said. “We kept what we wanted to do pretty simple; we challenged the kids to play better than they did the week before. It worked out for us, we did play better and we came out with a win.”
The Woodland defense subdued the Eagles attack, keeping the visitors from moving backwards more often than they moved forward. Chris Williams led the way for the Hawks defense with nine tackles and a fumble recovery.
Shea said Williams’ performance is something that has come to be anticipated by the Hawks coaching staff.
“We expect it out of him,” Shea said. “He’s a senior. He’s been here. Hopefully he’ll use this as a confidence builder and play off that in the weeks to come, because they’re only going to get harder.”
On the offensive side of the ball the Hawks were once again led by Jack DeBiase, who rushed for 153 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run, and threw for another 49 yards.
Playing a large supporting role was Junior Matt Zaccagnini, who, in a crowded backfield, scampered for 113 yards on 16 carries. Zaccagnini sits behind a cluster of senior running backs, but has shined every time he has gotten the opportunity.
“Matt has done well for us,” Shea said. “He had a very good spring game and we talked all summer about how to get him on the field, because he has really earned it. We’ve plugged him in and he’s been a success for us.”
After evening their record and avenging their first loss, the Hawks are again aiming to get back at an opponent this Friday when they face off with Wolcott, a team that had their number last season.
“We want to change what happened a season ago against Wolcott,” Shea said. “We weren’t ready to play them last year and hopefully this year it’s a different story. We can’t play that way this time around.”
The Hawks will look to give Wolcott (2-0) their first challenge of the season. An early-season contender for a division crown, Wolcott has posted blowout wins against Wilby and Killingly.
“Wolcott’s a very good team,” Shea said. “They have the majority of their players back from last year. We just want to go up there and play our type of football and hopefully come out of there with a win.”