The Colonels may have lost the home opener by a large margin, but the mood at Bill Mignault Field was definitely one of excitement. The home campaign started with introductions of the youth league football and cheerleading programs, followed by the entrance of the LHS Marching Band which performed throughout the night, and concluded with the 2016 Ledyard Colonels Varsity Team ripping through a banner wrought with Colonel logos.
Manny Sanabria, John Archer, and Cody Crawford, the captains of your 2016 Colonels, walked out to the 50 for the coin toss. Ledyard won the toss, and elected to receive the ball first. The band played the national anthem as the crowd removed their hats and stood, facing the large scoreboard that stands in front of the flag, opposite the home stands. Finally, the new Ledyard coaching staff gave some final words before sending the special teams unit out.
Stanley Green returned the kickoff for the Colonels, and ran up field. The home crowd presence was immediately established with a roar from the stands. Green found openings between his blockers, and made defenders miss, finding the endzone for a huge start for Ledyard. The touchdown was followed with a blocked extra point, but the Colonels had still drawn first blood.
The Colonel’s defense opened up equally well, forcing a punt on St. Joseph’s opening drive, which included an enormous hit brought upon the Cadets’ running back by Herman Winston. Throughout the game the defense showed flashes of being a dynamic run stopping unit, often keeping run plays to short or no gains, though by the end of the first quarter, Ledyard was down 13-6.
The second quarter started the beginning of the Colonels’ woes when a fumble followed by a punt led to a touchdown for St. Joseph’s. The Cadets would go on to score two more times in the quarter. Ledyard did have major success with the run game, breaking off a large outside run for a touchdown of their own.
At halftime, activities showcased the Ledyard Marching Band under the direction of Ledyard’s new marching band director, Emma Sayles. It also displayed the special talents of Haley Mikkelsen, a second year drum major; Ansell King, a second year drum major; and Chad Lockaby, a first year drum major. The performance included advanced choreography, and showed the band’s sharp musicianship. The cheerleaders also performed throughout the entire game and specifically at the halftime show where they also displayed advanced choreography and an ability to keep the crowd interested.
The second half was uneventful for the Colonels as they did not score any points, but they still showed signs of becoming a quality football team, running and passing efficiently in almost all their possessions.
In an interview with running back, and linebacker, Collin Wiltshire, he noted that “The main thing [pregame] going through my head was that this is our chance to prove ourselves. Obviously after losing [seventeen] seniors and getting a new head coach, people were unsure of how our team would do. I felt like that was our chance to show that nothing has changed in Ledyard football and that the expectations are still high.”
When asked about the reason for the game getting away from Ledyard, Wiltshire noted that “Our deep coverage needed some work. We stopped them in the run game and short pass game, but when they started passing deep we made some mistakes that led to the game slipping out of reach”.
Wiltshire looks forward to the game against Bacon Academy. He states that they’ve been studying for this game throughout the week, and “realized that they are big on letting their quarterback run the ball, so we’ve been working a lot on making sure it isn’t easy for him to get out of the pocket and run. Then defensively we realized that they blitz their linebackers a lot, leaving big holes for running backs to get through.”
Wiltshire ended the interview indicating that fans should,“Expect to see Manny [Deshields-Sanabria] make a few big run plays.”
Tyler Whatton, Staff Writer
Senior Tyler Whatton is a staff writer for the 2016-17 Colonel. He plays baseball and sings in Carolers, Chamber Choir, and Final Cut. He participates in Ledyard Airsoft, is an aspiring model looking for a contract, and can rap the entirety of “Rapper’s Delight” (with background music provided).