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Montville's young offensive line coming of age

By Ned Griffen

Publication: The Day

Published November 16. 2013 4:00AM

Montville - On more than one occasion Friday night, a joyful cry of "all right, Murtha" came from the Montville High School sideline.

That would be left guard Kevin Murtha, one of three sophomores starting on the Indians' offensive line.

There were some things Montville didn't do right at times against East Lyme, but it consistently did one thing well that's been a staple of coach Tanner Grove's eight-year reign - run the ball.

Jeremiah Crowley, enabled by an evolving offensive line, ran 34 times for 210 yards and five touchdowns as Montville beat the Vikings, 35-21.

"They take pride in (running the ball)," Grove said. "One of the things that my offensive line coach, Erik Farnsworth, has been kind of pulling his hair out all year is that we have three sophomores on the offensive line. Now they look great in pads, and they've got the big bellies and the big arms and the big behinds, but o-line is hard. Other than quarterback, it's the hardest thing to do in the game. And so it's taken some time, and they're starting to get it."

The Indians (6-4) had a number of dropped passes and gave up too much rushing yardage to Grove's liking.

Montville's offensive line made everything better, though, as they allowed their teammates to run 55 times for 327 yards.

It averaged out to a nice 5.95 yards a carry, thus allowing the Indians to run 76 plays.

East Lyme ran just 35 offensive plays.

Seniors Nick Haralambidis (right tackle) and Brent Politowitz (center) and sophomores Christian Davis (right guard), Troy Sullivan (left tackle) and Murtha make up the Indians' offensive line. Sophomore TT Bowens filled in for Haralambidis, too.

"Not to single out one guy on the offensive line because I know that they hate that, but Kevin Murtha is really coming into his own," Grove said. "He's starting to take on those qualities of his brother, Ryan, who was a four-year guy, and (Jake) Basilica and (Isaiah) Holloway and some of those guys where they're like, 'Coach, I know that you call all the plays, but you're going to run the ones that come right up my backside.' And that's a great feeling as a play caller. Those giant kids who are like, 'Coach, give the ball to the really tough kid and let them run behind me.'"

That really tough kid would be Crowley, who now has 31 rushing touchdowns in nine games.

Crowley is all of 5-foot-8.

"I honestly have no clue," Crowley said when asked how he handles the workload. "I ask myself that every day. Running back is an abusive position. You just get abused. You get hit every single play. A lot. By at least three guys."

Quarterback Tyler Quidgeon ran 17 times for 93 yards and completed 12 of 23 passes for 83 yards for Montville. Most of those completions were screens to receiver Buddy Dewaine (eight catches, 34 yards).

"We knew that they were going to dress everybody in their town and put them in the box today," Grove said, "so we had to be able to throw the ball a little."

Dewaine also had two interceptions.

Ben Watts ran 12 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns for East Lyme (5-4) while Eric Stirtan had 12 carries for 135 yards. Hunter Waido added a 5-yard touchdown.

"I'm proud of the way we ran it," Vikings coach Rudy Bagos said. "We did some very good things, things that we can build off of for this program."

n.griffen@theday.com

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