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Wilton 4th Graders Win it All

WILTON, Conn -- Wilton 4 White and Wilton 4 Blue both won their Fairfield County Football League semifinals last weekend. It is a league tradition that whenever two teams from the same town make the championship game, they are awarded a co-championship. Wilton White defeated New Canaan Red 15-8, and Wilton Blue topped New Canaan Black, 28-6.

The following is a recap of the Wilton 4 White game. 

Midway through the second quarter, down 8-0 and facing a New Canaan team with first and goal at the 2-yard line, the dream of a championship and perfect season for the Wilton white fourth grade football team was on the verge of becoming a nightmare.  But a gutsy goal line stand instead shifted the momentum leading to a remarkable 15-8 Warrior victory over the Rams, a perfect 10-0 season and a co-championship with Wilton Blue.

In a flashback to the tight regular season game between these two teams, New Canaan struck early with an impressive 57 yard touchdown run on the game’s third play.  The two point conversion was good putting the Warriors in the hole early. 

The Warrior offensive line of Erik Lebek, Dean Griffin, Eric Zhang, Stephen Kendra, D.J. DiCostanzo, Trent Hollings and Cooper Heinemann responded by paving the way in a 10 play drive highlighted by Drew Phillips’ 14 yard scamper on fourth and six to keep the drive alive (Click on this videolink to see this play.)  But the Rams were up to the challenge, forcing and recovering a fumble at their own 25 to end the drive. 

The Warrior defense, led by Patrick Coulter, Nick Sheehan, Oliver Shulman, Tate Falta, Jack Santomero, Griffin Morris, Hollings and Heinemann prevented the big play on New Canaan’s next possession, but slowly ceded territory.  The Rams drove all the way to the Warrior 2 and with first and goal it seemed certain that Wilton would be down by two scores for the first time all year, but tackle Hollings made the first of many big plays burying the ball carrier for a five yard loss (videolink).  On third and six, Heinemann read the bootleg attempt and dropped the quarterback for another five yard loss (video link).  It was a team gang-tackle at the 8=ard line that ended the New Canaan drive and shifted the momentum for good. 

With four minutes to play in the half, Phillips, Austin Andersen, Niko Kouvaris and Ryan Healey took turns running the ball, and Phillips completed a beautiful pass to Heinemann, but the Warriors ran out of time at the New Canaan 14, leaving the score 8-0 at the half. 

Fired up by Coaches Phillips and LaManna in the locker room, the Warriors came out strong in the third quarter.  Phillips and Andersen took turns eating up yards with quick dives through holes opened by the offensive line.  At the New Canaan 29, Phillips took a handoff from Healey and refused to go down, breaking several tackles on his way to the 8-yard line (videolink).  On first and goal, Andersen bulled his way to the one foot line (videolink) and then scored easily on the next play to close the gap to 8-6.  With an amazing second effort Phillips lunged across the goal line on the two point conversion try to knot the game at 8-8 (videolink).                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Having no luck on the ground, New Canaan took to the air on the next series but great coverage by linebacker Cole Stephenson and defensive backs Matt Lamanna and Dominick Caratazzolo forced the quarterback to throw into the flat only to have linebacker Austin Andersen make a leaping interception to give the ball to his teammates at the New Canaan 20.  Three runs by Phillips made it first and goal at the four when Andersen took a Healey handoff and burst into the end zone for the go-ahead score (videolink).  Phillips added the conversion to make it 15-8. 

The Warriors and Rams then traded possessions with the Wilton defense, highlighted by a great open field tackle by Ben Leung on the ensuing possession (videolink) and a team gang-tackle for no gain on 4th and 1 on New Canaan’s final possession (videolink), taking charge of the game.  The Warrior offense did its job eating up the clock as Phillips somehow made yards out of nothing to keep the offensive drives alive.  The game ended with the Warriors taking a knee to run out the clock at the New Canaan 9.

(Videolinks in this story were produced by Quentin Andersen).

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