Published October 05. 2013 4:00AM
Montville - The high school football season is just four weeks old, and already there's only one unbeaten team left in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
The team also isn't the one folks would've picked before the season started, either.
Ledyard, young and green Ledyard, is the conference's last unbeaten team. The Colonels used two big pass plays and a lot of tailback JoJo Shumaker to beat New London on Friday night, 21-3, at Montville High School.
"I don't think you could find anybody, me included, who would've told you on Aug. 14 that that would be the case," Colonels coach Jim Buonocore said. "No way, and I just told my kids that. No way. But I'll tell you, it's just been one heck of a start for us in terms of just getting better each and every day."
Ledyard (4-0) visits No. 4 Norwich Free Academy, which was upset by Glastonbury 6-0, next Friday.
"I honestly can't stand here and say that come Oct. 4, we'd be sitting here at 4-0," Buonocore said. "Not with all these young kids, but we're getting there. (There's a) lot of season left."
Shumaker had 38 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown. Twenty four of those carries came in the second half.
Joe Carter caught touchdowns of 62 and 34 yards from Ty Ebdon, giving the Colonels a 14-3 halftime lead.
Ledyard's most pleasant surprise has been the play of its brand-new offensive line, which allowed Shumaker to be sent barreling into the Whalers' defense over and over in the second half.
"They knew it was coming, and they still couldn't stop it," Shumaker, a junior, said. "So we kept doing it and kept running (New London) into submission."
Guard Kevin McDonald is the lone senior on Ledyard's offensive line and ran interference for Shumaker on many runs. He was joined by center Tyler Woods (junior), guard Jeffery O'Hanlon (sophomore), and junior tackles Jeremy Baron and Dwayne Brown.
Ledyard's defense also held strong after the offense turned it over on its second and third possessions of the game.
New London (1-2) had a first-and-goal from the Ledyard 2, but went two yards backwards and had to settle for Garrett Burdick's 21-yard field goal.
The Whalers started their next possession on the Ledyard 42. They got no closer than the 25 with Kyle Zeppieri sacking Danny Maranda for a 17-yard loss on fourth down.
"We held them twice after turnovers," Buonocore said. "That says a lot about the defense when you can respond (like that). The kids have really bought into 'move on to the next play.' They're such a young group that we talk to them about playing on to the next play."
New London's Jose Garcia returned the second half kickoff to the Colonels' 29. It only gained five yards, and Jordan Kowalski intercepted a tipped ball to end the drive.
"We're a young, young football team and we're making mistakes that young football teams do," Whalers coach Duane Maranda said. "We have to limit those and stop them now."
Orrin Parke ran 16 times for 110 yards for New London.
Ebdon threw a beautiful pass to Carter for a 62-yard touchdown, giving Ledyard a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Midway through the second quarter, Ebdon scrambled twice to avoid a defender and threw a low pass to Carter. Carter caught the ball near his cleats and ran it in for a 34-yard touchdown.
Shumaker added a 4-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
"We knew that our young guys up front were going to have to come along and they have," Buonocore said. "As long as they keep improving and these skill guys keep playing, man, we're going to be alright."