Football: Tom Drew proud of team after first victory
There were no "sneak up from behind and douse the coach with Gatorade" attacks or let's "carry the coach off on our shoulders" celebrations, but there was a significant amount of joy on Friday night after the Foran High football team’s 21-8 Southern Connecticut Conference victory over Amity Regional at a soggy William Johnson Field in Woodbridge.
The Lions' win was the first for new coach Tom Drew, who had moved over from being an assistant at Jonathan Law to the head job at Foran where he also teaches.
"I felt like this game went on forever," Drew said. "I don't know if that's how it's supposed to feel in your first win. As a coach, it's nice to get the win. But, really, this is about our program and our kids. Again, it's nice for me but it really belongs to them."
Foran had dropped its opener, to Wilbur Cross, 14-13, the week before in New Haven.
It will now look for win number two this Friday night in Bridgeport when it plays at Warren Harding.
The locals forced six Spartans turnovers (five interceptions on two Amity quarterbacks and one recovered fumble). The Lions' spread offense was formidable, but as Drew said, “It still needs some work."
Led by a ball-hawking secondary, the defense came up with one direct score on a 13-yard TD return of an interception by safety Max Tavitian.
He also scored on offense when he hauled in a 59-yard reception from junior quarterback Andrew Janik (11-of-35 for 149 yards and one touchdown).
Foran's specialty team helped its offense get its first score when a blocked punt was recovered by William Ives on the Amity 26-yard line.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play gave Foran the ball at the Spartans' 13. From there, Janik completed consecutive 6-yard passes to Nick Costantini and Tavitian, setting up a first-and-goal from the two. Janik picked up a yard on a keeper before Teddy Mauro went over from a yard out giving Foran a 6-0 lead with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
Following a 10-play drive where the Lions' offense ran out of downs on the Amity 20, the Spartans took over with 8:42 to play in the second quarter. On 3rd-and-20, James Laubstein’s hurried pass was picked off by Tavitian and returned to the end zone from the 13. Mauro ran it in for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.
The Lions increased their lead a little past the midway point in the third quarter. Following an interception by Will Phelan at the 19, Foran ran six plays on the ground which netted 22 yards and a pair of first downs.
From their own 41, Janik launched the ball down the left sideline on a post pattern. Tavitian caught it around the 30 and went the rest of the way to score with 4:59 remaining.
"Give Andrew the credit on that one," Tavitian said. "He put the ball perfectly over the defenders' shoulder. All I had to do was catch it and take off."
Amity got its only score when Daniel Beckwith corralled an errant Janik pass on the Lions 19 and took it in with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter. Needing the points, Amity went for the two-point conversion with quarterback Max Dempsey hooking up with Shaki Gray.
Amity (1-1) got inside the Lions' 40-yard line twice in the final quarter. The first time the Spartans turned it over on downs. The second time, Phelan game up with his second interception of the game and returned it 28 yards and out of danger.
Foran gained 207 yards behind a line of Justin DeEll (left tackle), Gabe Dias (left guard), Ryan Zarnoch (center), Tanner Lucy (right guard) and Maurizio Arango (right tackle).
It's defense held the Spartans to 182 yards and shut it out offensively.
"We're excited about the rest of the season," Tavitian added. "Most of all we want to have fun and make this coach proud of us. Teaching at Foran gives him the chance to be around us all day. We're hoping to get his legacy off to a good start."