Warriors fall in championship final
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Mon., Dec. 10, 2012
The second–seeded Windsor Warriors' bid for an undefeated season and their first state championship football trophy in school history came up just short, as they fell in the Class L state championship finals to the undefeated top-seed Daniel Hand of Madison. The Warriors (11-1) took an early lead in the defensive-minded game, but the Tigers (13-0) prevailed, pulling out a 23-6 victory on Dec. 8, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The championship was Hand’s second straight Class L title and 11th state title in school history; coming on the back of a school record 26-game win streak (in back-to-back undefeated seasons) including victories this season over Class LL champion Xavier and Class M champion Hillhouse. Windsor lost its only other state final appearance in 2002, being edged by Ridgefield 14-13.
“I have to really sit down and try and break down the film and see what is going to make us a better program, an even better program next year,” said head coach Rob Fleeting. “It’s all about building; we had a great opportunity here.”
The lineman trio of Lance Ormsby, his brother Cole and Keith Benjamin were a defensive stalwart early on for the Warriors, laying some hard hits, plugging holes in the running game and pressuring the quarterback. The Windsor defense continued to impose their will on Hand after a Devonte Dillon interception and 35-yard return gave the Warriors the ball at the Hand 29. Three plays later, Quinn Fleeting hurled a 28-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Rhyeime Moore in the back of the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 7:57 left before the half. Less than a minute later, Hand quarterback Brendan Bilcheck’s pass was deflected at the line by Lance Ormsby before linebacker Jaylen Berry intercepted and returned it 16 yards to the Hand 26. A holding penalty pushed Windsor back 10 yards and Hand’s defense stepped up forcing a four and out after Fleeting scrambled for 6 yards and threw three incomplete passes.
“Anytime you are in the red zone, you want to make sure that you capitalize,” Fleeting said.
After the defensive stop, the Tiger offense began to build momentum as Bilicheck threw 20- and 25-yard passes to move the Tiger offense on a drive. The offense remained on the field for the rest of the half and converted a huge fourth and eight on a hook and ladder pass from Bilicheck to Kyle Anderson who lateraled to Caleb Ewald, giving the Tigers a first and goal at the Windsor 5 with just five seconds left on the clock. Tyler Phan capped the 14-play, 63-yard drive with a 27-yard field goal to close the Windsor lead to 6-3 at the half.
On Hand’s second drive of the second half, they would only need three big plays to move downfield and score on the Warriors, capped by a 23-yard pass from Bilicheck to Ewald for the 10-6 advantage. The momentum swung completely in the Tigers' favor on the next Windsor drive. After fumbling the snap, Quinn Fleeting scrambled for a one-yard gain but his helmet came off, forcing him to sit out the next play (a first year CIAC rule). Backup quarterback John Nolan came in and mishandled the snap and Dan Rogers scooped up the fumble in stride and took it to the house untouched for a 42-yard touchdown and 16-6 lead.
“All these years of coaching I’ve seen it all, so it was just ‘Oh boy,'” Fleeting said. “I was hoping that when we got the ball back that we would start making things happen offensively but that didn’t happen. We will get better.”
Hand’s final score came on a 4-yard run by Bilicheck in the third quarter.
Fleeting completed 11 of 27 passes for 131 yards and a score. Moore caught three passes for 52 yards and a score, while Rashad Ramsey had four catches for 68 yards. Fleeting was the leading rusher as well, with 22 attempts for 34 yards.