Stonington - It was subdued, mostly, certainly not a celebration befitting the accomplishment: the third division championship in six years. Handshakes and a few smiles. At least until senior Cory Candelet made his way toward the bleachers after the game and had a rousing request for the band:
"I want," he said, "the fight song."
And so the Stonington High School band fired up one last rendition of "Here's To Old Stonington," an ode on this night to the Eastern Connecticut Conference Small Division football champs.
The Bears (7-2, 5-0) barely perspired during their 54-12 win over Plainfield, a team that entered Friday night also unbeaten in the division.
Jay Nieuwenhuis and Harry Calmar ran for 139 yards apiece and combined for five touchdowns, helping the Bears also stay alive in the Class S playoff race.
"The thing that scared me the most," Nieuwenhuis said, "was that they had a matching record and the ECC was up in the air. I had no idea how this game would turn out."
Neither did coach A.J. Massengale, who admitted after the game Plainfield impressed him so much, he had to stop watching film during the week.
Yet barely two minutes into the game, the Bears led 13-0.
"It's a lot nicer winning (the division) like this on the field," Massengale said. "Last year, we couldn't control our own destiny and had to have other things work out. I'm very proud of the way the kids played."
Massengale tweaked the game plan, too, calling it "old school." Translation: ditch the new-look passing game at Stonington this season for the beloved double-wing.
Nieuwenhuis scored on runs of 10, 3 and 6 yards. Calmar scored from 61 and 6 yards.
"We ran the double-wing more today than we have in any game all season by far," Massengale said. "We knew they we going to be working hard on things we've been doing more consistently. In a strange way, we used (the double-wing) to kind of change things up a bit."
Zach Mueller's two interceptions and subsequent returns of 36 and 35 yards also set up two scores. Mueller's first pick came on Plainfield's third play from scrimmage.
"As you've probably seen, we have a tendency not to come out strong. But we did tonight," Calmar said. "(Junior offensive lineman) Nick Ryan had a great game. He opened up some big holes."
Stonington must beat Westerly on Thanksgiving and hope for some favorable results across the state to qualify for the playoffs.