New Photos: A week late, Eagles defeat Huskies in Thanksgiving game

Barrington’s defense halts Huskies’ early scoring chances in 23-3 Eagles victory

By Josh Bickford
Posted 12/3/21

For the second time this year, Barrington and Mt. Hope squared off for the annual Thanksgiving Day game on a day other than Thanksgiving. 

And for the second straight time, the Eagles walked …

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New Photos: A week late, Eagles defeat Huskies in Thanksgiving game

Barrington’s defense halts Huskies’ early scoring chances in 23-3 Eagles victory

Posted

For the second time this year, Barrington and Mt. Hope squared off for the annual Thanksgiving Day game on a day other than Thanksgiving. 

And for the second straight time, the Eagles walked away with the victory, defeating the Huskies 23-3 at Victory Field. (Last year’s game was actually played in the spring at a neutral site.)

This year’s game, delayed a week because of a Covid-19 spike at Mt. Hope High School, was all Huskies in the first quarter. Barrington fumbled the ball on its first play from scrimmage and Mt. Hope recovered. 

The Huskies then marched deep into Barrington territory. Huskies’ quarterback Aidan Ramaglia found Bruce McGuire for a key pick-up on the drive. But Barrington’s defense stiffened once the Huskies got inside the 20 yard line, and a Mt. Hope pass on third and seven fell incomplete. 

The Huskies lined up for a field goal, but Barrington jumped off-sides, and Mt. Hope decided to go for it on fourth and two. Barrington’s defense answered the call and knocked down a Ramaglia pass.

On offense, the Eagles struggled to gain any momentum on their second drive. Quarterback James Anderson fumbled the ball on a scramble, but the Eagles managed to recover and then had to punt the ball away. 

Again, Mt. Hope moved the ball into Barrington’s end of the field. On a third and six at Barrington’s 17-yard line, the Huskies’ Niko DaSilva broke free for a 16-yard run. But on first and goal at the 1-yard line, the Huskies fumbled the snap and the Eagles recovered. 

That was as close as Mt. Hope would get to the end zone all game.

“We had some turnovers. We were rusty,” said Barrington High School Coach Sandy Gorham. “They (Mt. Hope) came out with a different defense. I keep telling the kids, the first series, the first two series, it’s ‘What are they doing? How can we adjust?’ Because of the offense we run, you don’t always get the traditional defense. So, you have to say what are these guys doing? Where are they lined up? Who’s got this guy? Who’s got that guy?”

Barrington’s offense was unable to pick up a first down on its third possession and punted. Mt. Hope took over at the Eagles’ 39, but again the Barrington defense held and forced the Huskies to set up for a punt. On fourth down, the snap sailed over the punter’s head and Barrington took over possession with good field position. 

That’s when the Eagles’ running game kicked into gear. 

Bryan Ivatts, Braeden Flaherty and AJ DiOrio took turns gashing the Mt. Hope defense. 

“…we started using the outside toss,” Coach Gorham said. “We haven’t run that a lot. We were doing a dive option, which is a double, not a triple option.  …We actually used some plays we haven’t used this year. The toss and the dive option.”

On first and 10 at the Huskies’ 24, Anderson rolled out and found Ivatts for a big pick-up. Ivatts was tackled just short of the end zone, but Anderson punched it in a play later. The Eagles faked the kick on the extra point and Anderson connected with Ben Ptaszek for two points, giving Barrington an 8-0 lead. 

Barrington’s defense stepped up again on the next series, forcing a punt. Anderson fired a strike to Andrew Madden on second and long, and on third and one, Ivatts broke through the Huskies’ defense for a long touchdown run.

The extra point gave Barrington a 15-0 lead mid-way through the second quarter.

The Huskies offense showed flashes on a drive late in the second quarter — Mt. Hope moved the ball inside the Eagles’ 30 but a field goal attempt right before the half failed. 

The second half featured more solid play by Barrington’s defense, which worked hard to keep DaSilva, McGuire and Hunter Kavanagh in check. Kavanagh also led the Huskies’ defense with a number of key stops. 

Eagles open 23-0 lead

Mid-way through the third quarter, Barrington began its third scoring drive of the game. 

DiOrio broke free for a key first down run on a fourth down play. And facing another fourth down inside the Huskies’ five yard line, Anderson rolled out and fired a pass to Ivatts in the end zone. Anderson also connected on the two-point conversion, upping Barrington’s lead to 23-0. 

Mt. Hope broke onto the scoreboard in the fourth quarter with a field goal, and for a moment it appeared that the Huskies had recovered the ensuing kick-off but the ball rolled just out of bounds. 

Coach Gorham said he was proud of his team’s effort, especially after the long lay-off prior to the game.

“It was (difficult),” he said. “We’re all creatures of habit. You get into routines. When you get out of that routine… it’s tough. And then getting kids motivated. And then it was how much practice was too much practice. It gets to the point where it’s information overload. There’s so much. But I give the kids credit…”

Game MVPs went to Mt. Hope’s Kavanagh and the Eagles’ Ivatts, who, in addition to scoring two touchdowns, also made a number of tackles from his linebacker position. 

“I knew I made some mistakes in the first quarter, but I was ready to kick it back into gear. I needed to help my team win this game,” he said. “We have such great chemistry. We’ve all been playing together. We know what we’re supposed to do on the field. We always have each other’s backs. It was just a great win for us.”

For the victory, the Eagles received the Pierce Donovan Memorial Trophy. 

Proud of his team

Mt. Hope High School Coach TJ DelSanto said his team played inspired football on Thursday. He said his Huskies were without three key players: Brock Pacheco, David Rhynard and James Thibaudeau. 

Coach DelSanto said the rest of the team stepped up — he mentioned Atley Jenness, Kavanagh and Ramaglia, as well as freshmen Colin Maloney and Michael Lombardi.

“I think our guys were really excited to be out there,” he said, adding that he was very happy the Huskies’ seniors had the chance to play the rivalry game. Mt. Hope players and coaches thought their season was over a few days before Thanksgiving, said Coach DelSanto. In fact, the team was on the practice field on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at about 5 p.m. when Coach DelSanto’s phone rang. The caller informed him of the Covid situation.

Coach DelSanto said he told his team they would not be able to play on Thanksgiving. He was crushed, and so too was the team, but officials from Mt. Hope and Barrington — he mentioned both schools’ athletic directors — worked hard to reschedule the game for Dec. 2.

“I’m so thankful for the athletic directors,” he said. “I’m so thankful for Barrington agreeing to play (on Dec. 2). Our seniors … I was happy they got a chance to play.”

Coach DelSanto said that while his team was not able to pull out the victory, he was very proud of their effort. He also said it was nice being able to face off against Barrington in the annual Thanksgiving game, a rivalry that extends three decades, and prior to that, the Bristol vs. Barrington games which stretch back to 1941. Following Thursday night’s game, Coach DelSanto said he was headed for the bus when he heard someone calling his name. It was Jay Romano, who played quarterback for Bristol in the late 1980s. Coach DelSanto stopped for a moment to catch up with his former player — the encounter offered a warm reminder of how many lives the annual football game has touched.

“It was great seeing him again,” Coach DelSanto said. 

It was a similar situation on the Barrington sideline following the game Thursday night, as longtime Eagles coach Bill McCagney stood at the fence greeting BHS players as they walked off Victory Field, some of them for their final time. Standing nearby was Brent Dalessio, a longtime BHS football assistant coach under McCagney and a former Eagles football standout; in fact, Dalessio played for Coach Gorham during Sandy’s first term with the Eagles in the 1980s. 

One of the final players to leave the field was Barrington’s MVP Bryan Ivatts. The senior running back and linebacker was followed closely by his brother, sophomore quarterback Mitchell Ivatts. On Barrington’s final offensive drive of the game, Coach Gorham called for Mitchell to take the field, replacing senior captain Anderson. The reason was simple: Coach Gorham wanted to give the Ivatts brothers a chance to run a few plays together before the season came to an end.

“Yeah, I wanted to do that. I wanted his brother to hand the ball off (to him), but the next thing you know he didn’t pitch the ball,” Coach Gorham said of Mitchell. “He’s darting up inside. But I love the confidence.”

Bryan was happy to take the field with his brother, even if Mitchell decided not to pitch the ball.

“That was amazing. Coach Gorham told me before the game he was going to try to get us a few drives. I was very happy. He (Mitchell) made a great play,” Bryan said.

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