East Lyme - And to think it was just a short month ago that Stonington High School was winless, not to mention the answer to an infamous trivia question: Which defense just allowed the most single-game rushing yards to a running back in the history of Connecticut?
And now the Bears are another illustration that resilience is still the best quality of all in sports. They won their fourth straight Friday night, a harder-than-the-score-suggests 42-28 victory over East Lyme at the new Dick North Field.
Stonington (4-2) snapped East Lyme's four-game win streak and prevented the Vikings from punctuating the dedication of their new turf field and sports complex with a victory.
"We had a lot of things going on within our program that kind of set us back those two weeks, internal things we were trying to work out," Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. "We had distractions that we had to learn some lessons from and learn there are consequences to our actions."
Massengale, whose team earned leads of 21-6, 28-14 and 35-21, watched somewhat anxiously as East Lyme rallied within a score all three times. Stonington's answer: Give the ball to Harry Calmar and Zach Poirier, among others.
Calmar ran for 195 yards and a touchdown and Poirier had 101 yards and two scores, the second of which came with 49 seconds left that finally iced it.
"We knew coming in that East Lyme was going to be a big team," Calmar said. "But our offensive line just dominated up front. I think the biggest difference is in practice for us and it really shows."
The Bears also forced four turnovers, including Divante White's 49-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the first half. Bow Johnson's interception late in the first half led to Calmar's 60-yard run that set up White's short touchdown run that gave the Bears a 28-14 lead at the half.
"They're loaded," East Lyme coach Rudy Bagos said. "They've got a really good quarterback (White) and some awesome running backs. We knew they'd present problems. I might have hard a hard time believing they'd score 42 on us, but they do present problems. Tip your hat. They played awesome."
East Lyme quarterback Mitchell Murphy threw a pair of touchdown passes to Dean Beebe that covered 47 and 26 yards. Beebe finished with 133 receiving yards overall. Eric Stirtan ran for 75 yards and two scores.
"We knew they had some great running backs and they were effective running two offenses," Calmar said. "They're a very hard team to play against."
Murphy finished 10 for 21 for 222 yards, two scores and two interceptions.
"We got down two scores a few times and could have folded," Bagos said. "We could have folded a lot of times this year. The kids haven't. They're a good group."