Ridgefield ended the 2012 high school football season with an 8-2 record. Ninth ranked in a Class LL points race in which only the top eight advanced to the state playoffs. Eight wins by an average of more than 30 points per game. More than 4,000 yards in offense. Two losses that came after the Tigers found themselves behind by double digits early in the contests.
A season full of predictable wins and crushing losses.
“It was at times painful, mostly enjoyable, but ultimately we did not meet our goal of winning the FCIAC or making the post-season,” said head coach Kevin Callahan, who has led Ridgefield to a 32-9 in the past four seasons. “We had a solid finish, but here we are nearly two weeks after the season is completed and I’m looking at game films and thinking it was a great group of kids who played this year, but the feeling of satisfaction isn’t there, simply because we didn’t make states. Not a good closure to an 8-2 season.
“It’s not anyone’s fault, it was a great team,” added Callahan. “We had our ups and downs. I wished our schedule was tougher, but in the end, it is what it is. However, we had some school records broken, and although our performance wasn’t always 100%, our effort always was.”
Senior Sam Gravitte (bound for Princeton to play lacrosse next year) set four records: Touchdowns (23), points in a season (183), points in a career (345), and yards per rushing attempt (7.81). Gravitte accomplished all this with nearly 40% fewer carries (74 for 17 touchdowns) than he had in 2011, a season in which he had nearly 1,900 total yards.
In 2012, Gravitte didn’t return punts or kickoffs, but as a slot back he had 41 receptions for a 19.0-yard average.
“Sam will be missed; he’s a leader on and off the field and we asked a lot of him this season and he never questioned our usage of him” said Callahan. “He’s about as unselfish a kid as we’ve had on a Ridgefield squad. He’s one of a kind.”
The running game accounted for nearly 200 yards per contest, with junior Will Bonaparte having a breakout season by leading the Tigers in rushing with 703 yards on 93 carries and seven touchdowns (10 in total). Senior quarterback Connor Rowe’s season was interrupted by a school-imposed two-game suspension, but in the eight games he played, he rushed for 395 yards with eight touchdowns while passing for nearly 1,400 yards.
“Connor showed consistent improvement as the season progressed,” said Callahan.
Callahan also had praise for many other players.
“Andrew Barton is consummate team player and extremely coachable. Timo Muro quietly did a great job (19 receptions, four interceptions), though we didn’t use the receivers as much as we wanted. Chewy (junior Andrew Chuma: 33 catches, 395 yards) had a great year at wideout, a position he wasn’t really slotted for at the beginning of the season. Timo and Chewy were excellent blockers, and John Mullery never dropped a ball (19 catches, two touchdowns)
“Naquan Edwards did a great job. He was a stalwart at nose tackle,” added Callahan. “Lucas Goff (46 total tackles) had a breakout year after making the leap from scout team. Rich Mathes was an unsung workhorse. Kyle Cavalea (53 total tackles) was banged up last year, but had a tremendous season. Matt Kissell was solid defensively with a good work ethic and was a hard hitter.
“Vic (Victor Fernandez: 46 total tackles) had a nice finish and is the toughest kid on team. Aidan (Mauro) established himself as an excellent shutdown corner, one of the best in the conference (seven interceptions, 60 tackles), while Mickey Hicks was, I say this in a kind way, the bully of the defense (60 solo tackles, 80 total), and Chris Mirra was one of our best three-year defensive starters (60 total tackles, two interceptions, two sacks).
“Off the bench, (sophomore) Jimmy Turner did a great job, and (senior) Tanner Gibson, aside from being an awesome kid, did well when he got the opportunity.”