Bacon Academy senior captains, from left, Zachary Perreault, Aidan Fritz, Aiden Holt, and Jack Holmes during the coin toss at RHAM High School on Thanksgiving.
Bacon Academy football walked off the field at RHAM High School after being handed a 41-12 defeat on Thanksgiving morning. Under normal circumstances, a lopsided loss in the season finale would be tough to swallow.
But for a Bobcats program that has seen rock bottom, the 29-point defeat is just another stepping stone towards a brighter future.
“Since day one, the energy and investment into the program has been there,” said first-year head coach Bill Chaffin. “I feel like we’re in a better place than we were 12 months ago. They weren't even playing 12 months ago.”
Chaffin took over the program that finished winless a season ago, losing their first seven games before forfeiting the final three games because of alleged Title IX violations last November.
Thanksgiving’s results allowed the neighboring Raptors to retain The Rail, a trophy given to the winner of the annual matchup dubbed “The Battle for the Rail”.
A year ago, RHAM was awarded The Rail after the forfeiture and 2020’s game was never played because of the COVID-19 cancellation.
In 2019, the last time the teams played each other, Bacon won 32-0. But that game was a distant memory by the time the game kicked off last Thursday in Hebron.
After falling behind 20-0, the Bobcats found rhythm offensively with running back Aidan Fritz ripping off runs of seven, eight, and ten yards.
Bacon eventually found the end zone when senior quarterback Jack Holmes scrambled to his right and lofted a pass down the sidelines to Julian Rodegher, who hauled it in and scored from 32-yards out with 8:24 left in the first half.
Holmes threw a second touchdown late in regulation when he hooked up with Jace King for a 19-yard scoring strike.
In the end, RHAM’s rushing attack was too much for Bacon Academy to overcome. The loss wrapped up a 1-9 season a team that had some bright moments this season, including picking up their first win in 1,007 days when they defeated New London on Nov. 5.
“We finally got a win and we got building blocks to build off of,” said Chaffin, who started several underclassmen this fall. “We were young, inexperienced, and they got thrown into the water. The experience they gained this year will help us moving forward.”
Chaffin will have starting experience returning with Rodegher, King, Brady Gould, and Kevin Claffey leading a talented group coming back after playing pivotal roles on both sides of the ball this season.
On the flip side, Chaffin will lose eight seniors—led by captain Fritz, Holmes, Aiden Holt, and Zachary Perreault—who helped him implement his culture.
Chaffin credited his departing seniors for persevering through plenty of turbulence over the last four years.
“They have been through nothing but adversity through their high school careers and for them to come out and show leadership and show some of the younger guys how to do it means a lot,” added Chaffin. “They made my first year as a head coach a really good year and I’m extremely thankful to them.”
Chaffin said the main difference in the loss to RHAM was the strength component, with the Raptors offensive line and running backs controlling the tempo of the game.
Heading into year two, Chaffin’s goal for the offseason is to ramp up the program’s weight training program in order for the team to get bigger, stronger, and faster for next fall.
“That’s the difference between the type of season we had and a successful season,” added Chaffin. “Getting these kids in the weight room and getting them strong will determine where we’ll be in the next two to three years.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin