TORRINGTON—Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic co-op football concluded the 2023 season with 21-0 loss to Watertown High School Sunday, Dec. 3.
Watertown’s size and strength on the frontline was too much for the nimble Yellowjackets to overcome. The Warriors advanced to face Joel Barlow High School in the Class SS state championship game Saturday, Dec. 9.
Seeded fifth in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) Class SS playoff tournament, GNH’s postseason began with a trip across the state to four-seed Tolland High School on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
In a back-and-forth game, the Yellowjackets came out on top with a 22-16 win. Housatonic Valley Regional High School freshman Carson Riva helped seal the victory with a critical fumble recovery late in the game.
The same night, top seed Granby/Canton co-op hosted eight-seed Watertown. The Warriors stunned Granby/Canton in a 26-12 decision and advanced to the semifinals to play GNH on neutral ground.
When Watertown hosted GNH in October, Watertown prevailed 12-7 after a slugfest. GNH then went on to win the next five games only to meet Watertown for a chance at revenge in the playoffs.
The fateful postseason rematch was played in Torrington on Dec. 3. Mother Nature set a harsh stage that afternoon, with a steady downpour of rain and a raw 43-degree chill.
GNH looked to get its reliable ground game rolling early. Watertown’s big fellas up front were relentless from the jump, refusing runners up the middle while their wings contained the edges. The Yellowjackets responded with some strong defense of their own and both teams left the first quarter scoreless.
Watertown strung together a long drive in the second quarter and chipped away at the clock. The Warriors capped off the drive with a QB sneak to the end zone by Brady Gambee.
Watertown led 7-0 at halftime.
“If we can’t come back down seven, we shouldn’t be here,” said GNH defensive coordinator Devin Michaud as the team headed back to the locker room.
Riding a lead and unphased by the elements, Watertown kicked into high gear for the second half. GNH’s defense uncharacteristically struggled to wrap up tackles and the Warriors repeatedly capitalized with extra yardage after contact. Midway through the third quarter, Watertown found the end zone again to go up 13-0.
Visibly battered, several GNH players hobbled from the huddle to the line of scrimmage and back for each play. They left it all on the field but were unable to build up steam against the energized Warriors.
Watertown rushed in a third touchdown late in the game to bring the final score to 21-0. As the Warriors rejoiced at the final buzzer, the Yellowjackets hung their heads. Dejected, they patted each other on the back as they walked off the gloomy field.
GNH ended the year with a record of 7-5 including postseason games and were among the last four Class SS teams standing in the state. The Dec. 3 game marked the end of their high school football careers for seven GNH seniors due to graduate next spring. Among them were captains Nolan Risedorf and Aiden Avenia, both of whom were named to the Naugatuck Valley League First Team for 2023.
Story courtesy of the Lakeville Journal.