Montville — Tanner Grove, eternal optimist, ended his postgame speech to his team Wednesday night at Delaporta Field by reminding his players that practice begins at 3 p.m. Friday.
With a little help Thanksgiving morning, his optimism was rewarded. The Indians unofficially earned the final Class M playoff spot and as the No. 8 will play a quarterfinal game at top-seeded Wolcott (9-1) on Tuesday night.
Still, the Indians' 43-0 win over St. Bernard/Norwich Tech didn't merely produce the Mayor's Cup, but a solid 8-2 regular season.
"I know the amount of work my team has put in," senior Jake Basilica said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get some breaks. But hopefully, everything works out."
"I'm pleased with the kids' effort all year," Grove said. "We lost to a great team (New London) and then in a dogfight (to Ledyard). Other than that, they've done everything we've asked. We expect to play in the playoffs every year. When we don't get there, sometimes we're tough to be around until after the new year."
Jeremiah Crowley, named the game's Most Valuable Player, gave Montville a 13-0 lead before the Indians ran an offensive play. He returned punts of 88 and 52 yards for touchdowns. Crowley also scored on 34-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Nick Clemons scored twice for the Indians while Brandon Robinson kicked a 29-yard field goal and Izak Tibbetts on a 13-yard run.
Grove removed his starters with five minutes left in the second period.
Late in the first half, backup quarterback Tyler Quidgeon took a few steps with each snap and fell down to avoid scoring and violate the state's score management rule.
"Every game is a fun game. It's football," Basilica said. "But obviously, with this potentially being our last game, you wish the score was a little closer."
There was a running clock for the second half.
"I feel bad for what they (St. Bernard/Norwich Tech) had to endure all year," Grove said. "I'm proud of their kids and shook all their hands after the game because they hung in there and for how hard they played. We've had great games here and there will come a time when it'll be a great game again."