Pictured: Morgan coach Peter Nye has only five seniors on this year’s roster, but a 19-member sophomore class bodes wells for the Huskies’ future.
By Marc Silvestrini
CLINTON — It’s hard to win football games when you’re a lot younger and smaller than your opponent. Likewise, it’s tough to wind up on top when the other team’s defense controls your running game but you have trouble stopping theirs.
In a nutshell, that’s exactly what happened to Morgan on Saturday when a big, strong Ellington team walked into Robert Brigockas Field at the Ethel Peters Complex and held the young Huskies to a net of 23 yards rushing while piling up 246 rushing yards of their own en route to a 33-6 Pequot Conference victory.
Morgan, which has only five seniors on its roster but dresses 19 sophomores, many of whom start, dropped to 0-3 on the season while Ellington improved to 3-1.
“We have a bunch of young kids on this team going both ways, so yes, I do think we wore down a little in the later part of the second half,” Morgan coach Peter Nye said. “But whether you’re a young team or a seasoned, veteran team, you just can’t be making the kind of mistakes we made and expect to beat a good team like Ellington.
“We moved the ball, we kept getting first downs. But then we’d make mistakes — penalties and turnovers — that prevented us from scoring. Our goal each and every week is not to just move the ball, it’s to score points.”
Led by senior tailback Nathan Schneider and sophomore quarterback Zach Killoran, Ellington scored the first three times it had the ball to build a 20-0 first-quarter lead.
Killoran drove the Knights 75 yards in five plays off the opening kickoff, capping the drive with a pretty 55-yard scoring strike to Thomas Garrow to stake Ellington to a quick 6-0 lead.
An interception of starting quarterback Mike Zingarella on Morgan’s third play from scrimmage then set up the Knights offense at the Morgan 20.
Killoran promptly hit Garrow again to move the ball to the Morgan 4, and Schneider powered into the end zone from there. Yet another Killoran-to-Garrow pass gave the Knights a 2-point conversion and a quick 14-0 lead four-and-a-half minutes into the game.
After the Knights defense forced a punt on Morgan’s ensuing possession, Killoran drove Ellington 47 yards in eight plays to ring up their third touchdown in as many possessions. The score came on a 14-yard toss from Killoran to Riley Bauman.
From there, the Huskies started showing signs of life, as their defense slowed down Schneider and the Ellington running game and started putting some pressure on Killoran. Meanwhile, a shift to sophomore quarterback Andrew Nye, the coach’s son, enabled the Huskies to take advantage of the his strong and accurate arm while maximizing Zingarella’s versatility and multi-faceted skills as a wide receiver, running back and occasional quarterback.
Nye engineered Morgan’s lone scoring drive of the day off the second-half kickoff, marching the Huskies 75 yards in four plays. The touchdown came on a perfectly thrown Nye pass to a streaking Zingarella down the right sideline on a wheel route.
The touchdown toss was preceded by a 10-yard Nye completion to Garret Garbinski and a 28-yard strike to Alex Fratamico.
“He threw the ball fairly well and made some good decisions,” Coach Nye said in assessing the play of quarterback Nye. “Until today, he hadn’t played very much this year (Morgan was coming off a bye week), so we’re hoping he’ll get better as he gains more experience and confidence.”
Nye completed 14 of his 23 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Garbinski, another sophomore, caught five of those completions for 50 yards while Zingarella caught three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Riley Jackson, yet another sophomore, finished as Morgan’s leading rusher on the day with 27 yards on six carries.
“They’re not a bad team, they’re just real young while we have some big, strong people up front on our offensive line,” Ellington coach Sean Byrne said, praising the play of junior guard Colton Hurlburt in particular.”
Diego Pelaez and Tim Lichak shared one sack of Killoran while Jordan Armstrong picked up the team’s other sack. In keeping with what might become the theme of the 2019 football season for the Huskies, Pelaez and Armstrong are both sophomores.
“We came in here wanting to pound the ball and we were able to execute our game plan fairly well.”
Schneider finished with 176 yards on and three touchdowns on 24 carries for Ellington, while Killoran hit on 11 of his 16 throws for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
Morgan travels to Windsor Locks next Saturday to take on Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby.