A year ago, Ellington defeated the co-op team of Coventry, Windham Tech, Bolton and Lyman Memorial for the last time on Thanksgiving.
After seven years and seven victories, Ellington had decided to move on. The Purple Knights were going to play brand-new Pequot conference member Rockville. And the co-op was going to have to find a new Thanksgiving opponent and rival.
“This has been the rivalry — this has been our archrival,” Bolton senior Jacob Carlson said. “Ever since I came here, all the kids ever said was ‘no matter what, we want to beat Ellington on Thanksgiving.’ It never happened. Last year, we wanted to do it. We wanted it so bad. Coach was crying. It was an emotional experience. But ever since then, I think it has been burned in our minds that we had to beat this team.”
It wasn’t on Thanksgiving. But the co-op, which had lost 22 straight games from 2014 to 2016, finally got its victory over the Purple Knights.
Behind three interceptions from Bolton sophomore Aidan O’Brien and a 39-yard rushing touchdown from Carlson, the co-op defeated Ellington 9-6 Friday at the Larry A. Pietrantonio Athletic Field Complex in Coventry.
“They asked to switch from our Thanksgiving game because they didn’t think we were good enough, but we showed them [Friday] that we are,” O’Brien said.
It was the first victory by the co-op over Ellington since 2007.
“We’ve been talking about this game since last Thanksgiving,” coach Tony Bonito said. “We prepared in spring football for this game. Everything we did was based on playing them. And it paid off.”
A few minutes after Carlson and Shaun O’Connell helped secure the victory with a pair of big runs late in the fourth quarter, Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman Memorial (2-0) burst through the handshake line and came running to their student section.
“This is everything,” Carlson said. “All we’ve been about is overcoming adversity over the years. We lost  games in a row. Not many people can say that. Not many people can say they can overcome something like that. We just came out and played hard. We made a lot of mistakes and there’s a lot to work on. But in the end we pulled out the ‘W’ and that’s what matters.”
The co-op failed to get on the board after the opening drive. But after Ellington snapped the ball out of the end zone for a safety with 9:22 left in the first quarter, the Patriots took an early lead and didn’t look back.
After a series of defensive stops to get the Patriots fired up, Carlson helped gave the co-op a 9-0 lead with 2:18 left in the first quarter when he slipped free of the Ellington defense.
The Patriots held Ellington scoreless in the second and third quarter. But after O’Brien intercepted Purples Knights’ quarterback Jonathan Conte three times, including with 6:57 left at the 15-yard line, Ellington finally got on the board with 4:04 left in the fourth when Robert Martinez-Ecker caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Conte.
Still, the co-op refused to let Ellington (0-2) seize momentum.
After recovering an onsides kick, the Patriots secured the victory with an 8-yard run for a first down by Carlson with 1:55 left and a conversion by O’Connell on third down in the final minute.
Ellington opened the season with two straight losses for the first time in four years.
“This is as emotional as it gets for me,” Bonito said. “This is a big deal. For us to be able to compete and score more points than Ellington High School in a game has not happened [in a long time]. This has been a long time coming. It is kind of like the Army-Navy thing for us. This was an unbelievable win for our program.”