Thanksgiving football: Two-time MVP Tom Ligi leads Holy Cross past Wolcott

Another Thanksgiving week is in the books, and the Holy Cross football team enjoyed another Turkey Day win over Wolcott.

Bristol Central won for the seventh consecutive outing against Bristol Eastern, and Crosby won a defensive struggle over Kennedy. It was a tough day for St. Paul on the road against playoff-bound Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic.

The Crosby-Kennedy and Central-Eastern games weren’t decided until the fourth quarter in battles where the records were thrown out the window.

Here’s more on each game:

Holy Cross 42, Wolcott 13: The Crusaders finished off an 8-2 regular season with the road win over the Eagles at Joe Monroe Field. Wolcott played without injured senior running back Matt LaMontagne and ended its season at 2-8.

Holy Cross will host a quarterfinal for the second straight season when the state playoffs begin next Tuesday. More on that later.

Crusader senior Tom Ligi earned the Joe Lynch Memorial Thanksgiving MVP trophy for the second straight season after posting three touchdowns and 128 yards on 14 carries. Ligi ran for touchdowns of 19, 3 and 1 yard. Drew Caouette threw a pair of touchdown passes to Marquis Campbell, who also ran for a score.

Anthony Bell threw a touchdown pass to Ryan Lofgren, and Teddy Macary added a touchdown run on the game’s final play.

Crosby 8, Kennedy 6: The Bulldogs threw it back to the days of Gondek, Cunningham, O’Joe and Small with their victory over the Eagles at Municipal Stadium’s Ray Snyder Sr. Field.

What does that mean? This season marked the first since 2008 that Crosby finished with a winning record. The Bulldogs ended 2022 at 6-4. That 6-4 mark is a win more than Crosby had in 2021 (5-5).

Senior Michael Scott ran for a second quarter touchdown and a two-point conversion, then the Bulldog defense held on from there. Senior Michail Scott had 16 tackles and a half-sack to lead the Crosby defense. Freshman Kalib Shaw totaled 11 tackles and a half-sack while Michael Scott added eight tackles. Senior Syere Coleman had seven tackles while Willie Redd recorded six tackles and a half-sack. Sophomore Jaedan Cobb blocked a punt, which helped lead to Crosby’s lone touchdown. Cobb also had five tackles in the game.

Kennedy (3-7) pulled within two points when senior quarterback Dereck Ledee kept it himself and scored with just under three and a half minutes to go. On the ensuing conversion run attempt, Crosby senior Edwin Muniz made the tackle and preserved his team’s 8-6 advantage. Bulldog senior John Herrington (10 carries, 92 yards) carried for a first down near the final minute to help his team run out the clock.

Danny Rodriguez led the Kennedy defense with two interceptions.

Bristol Central 13, Bristol Eastern 6: Anthony Paolino returned a late interception for a touchdown to seal his team’s Battle for the Bell victory at Muzzy Field.

Paolino, who also recovered a first half fumble, earned defensive MVP honors for Central (2-8). The offensive MVP was Tre Blair, who carried 35 times for 207 yards and a touchdown, which came on his team’s opening drive. Blair went over the 1,000-yard mark and finished the season at 1,053. He joined other Central standouts like Tim Washington, Victor Rosa, Dathan Hickey and Garry Pearson in the pantheon of 200-yard rushers in Bell games. The Rams lead the all-time series against the Lancers, 38-23-2.

Jaiden Fore earned offensive MVP honors for Eastern (3-7) after tallying 93 yards on 15 rushes. Kyle Babin scored on a short run for the Lancers, but a penalty forced a longer extra point, which banged off an upright. Eastern’s touchdown came on its opening drive of the third quarter.

Austin Shorette was the defensive MVP for the Lancers. Shorette was also the defensive MVP for his team in 2021.

Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic 56, St. Paul 6: Ryan Diaz scored from a yard out to prevent the shutout at Winsted’s Van Why Field.

It was an uphill battle for the Falcons (3-7) against the playoff-bound Yellowjackets (8-2), who will play Killingly in a state quarterfinal for the second straight season.

Photo caption: Holy Cross senior Tom Ligi poses with Mark Lynch after earning the Joseph Lynch Memorial Thanksgiving MVP trophy for the second straight season. The award is named after Mark’s son, Joseph, who attended and played football at both Holy Cross and Wolcott high schools before moving on to Post University. Joseph passed away in 2018 at the age of 22 after battling osteosarcoma. (Photo credit: Joseph Lynch Memorial Facebook page)