Study Time for Windsor as Title Match With Woodstock Looms

  • Windsor's Jake Tucker. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, November 04, 2017

Windsor — Windsor High football head coach Greg Balch huddled the top-seeded Yellowjackets together after their 36-0 win over No. 5 Springfield in the VPA Division III semifinal on Saturday and gave the players a homework assignment: Study game film.

Balch tasked his squad with evaluating its performance at MacLeay-Royce Field. Some Windsor viewers may have trouble finding faults from the lopsided result, but Balch isn’t likely to be among them.

“I didn’t feel like we were dominant,” Balch said, his defending-state-champion team having won its 20th consecutive game to improve to 8-0 this season. “I may have got a different perspective.”

Windsor’s convincing win over the Cosmos (3-6) sets up a rematch with No. 2 Woodstock, which fell to the Jacks, 12-9, in overtime on Oct. 21. The championship game will be held on Saturday at Rutland High.

The hosts kicked off against Springfield, then quickly forced a three-and-out before the offense took the field. Quarterback Seth Balch, who entered the contest with 509 rushing yards and 844 passing yards to go along with 15 passing touchdowns and nine rushing scores, led the Jacks into the end zone on their first drive.

Rushes by Balch, Dakota Page, Trevor Worrall and Jake Tucker contributed to the drive, as did a Springfield facemask penalty inside the red zone. Windsor’s QB scored on a keeper with 6 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the first quarter, and Worrall (98 total yards) ran in the 2-point conversion. The victory was underway.

Springfield — which only earned three first downs, all in the first half — went three-and-out again on the ensuing possession before Balch threw an interception to Mason Olney. The Cosmos couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, however, giving the Windsor playmaker a quick chance at redemption. Balch took advantage of the opportunity by returning a Springfield punt 25 yards, then scoring on an 8-yard keeper to end the drive with 10:29 left in the second quarter. Tucker caught a pass from Balch for the 2-point conversion.

The hosts padded their lead six minutes later when Balch (75 passing yards, 60 on the ground) found Tucker on a thread-through-needle, 11-yard touchdown pass. It was 16-0 at halftime.

Tucker (96 total yards) and Page (80 total yards) both added second-half touchdowns on 3- and 7-yard runs, respectively, and Robert Slocum kicked two extra points.

The Jacks often hold video sessions together in the school auditorium but not during the week ahead.

“In order to really get a head-start on this week, we’re going to do the film study on our own,” Seth Balch said. “We have a lot of really smart players on this team that are capable of doing that. They know their assignments; they know what they’re seeing on film.”

Tucker, one of the team’s eight seniors, seems to understand what the schedule change means.

“This week, we’ve got to work,” Tucker said. “We got to be on the field working, full pads. … We’re going to have to work hard all week. Come ready to practice. Don’t goof off. We’ve got to stay focused the whole time.”

Windsor’s biggest regular-season test was against Woodstock, which won its Friday semifinal game, 36-6, over Mill River.

“We had our hands full with them here in the regular season,” Greg Balch said of his team’s upcoming opponent. “That game easily could have gone either way. They’re kind of the way they always are: They’re well-coached, they’ve got a lot of good backs and they fly to the ball. They’re really never any different than that.”

When asked to speculate on what factors the state championship rematch will come down to, Windsor’s coach alluded to the game’s finer points.

“Details,” Greg Balch said. “It will be point-after attempts, it will be a missed block here or there, it will be a big play by one team. If I had to guess, I’d say it will just be a tough game and it will come down to all the little things.”

Notes: Christine Porter sung the national anthem exquisitely from the press box. Porter has performed the duty at all of Windsor’s home games this season. … Saturday’s contest was a rematch of the season opener, which Windsor won, 53-22. ... Oxbow didn’t field a varsity squad this season, which left just seven teams in D-III. Windsor received a quarterfinal bye as a result. “It definitely gave us some time to rest,” Seth Balch said. “Even if you’re not hurt, even if you’re not injured, you start to get tired, you start to get worn out, and so having that week-long break at that point in the season is really helpful.”