Masterson, Woodring key as Wilton football looks for first win over Ridgefield since 1993

Grant Masterson was faced with a big decision in Wilton’s football game against New Canaan on Saturday.

In retrospect, it turned out to be a relatively easy call.

On fourth-and-goal from the 24-yard line, the senior quarterback lofted a pass to a dependable target in wide receiver Parker Woodring, who was blanketed at the goal line.

“I told Grant before (the play), throw it up, I’m going to catch it,” Woodring said. “He puts his trust in me, so I had to make the play for him and for the team.”

Woodring made the catch, which was one of several big plays in Wilton’s 20-17 victory, the program’s first win over New Canaan since 1995. Michael Cooper’s 32-yard field goal with 8.9 seconds remaining was the decisive blow.

The game was indicative of the way Wilton has played this season: Tough, persistent and competitive on every play, every week.

“We finally got that win that we’ve wanted,” Woodring said. “And we finished out the game. A bunch of my teammates had tears of joy after that game.”

Wilton is gearing up for its homecoming contest at 2 p.m., Saturday, against rival Ridgefield, a team the Warriors haven’t beaten since 1993. The teams have identical 4-2 records, making the contest a key one in the state playoff race.

The Warriors are approaching the game with confidence.

“Our team’s dialed in right now, and we’re going to have to be focused,” Masterson said. “New Canaan was a great team and Ridgefield’s a great team. If we’re not focused, we’re not going to win big games like that.”

The FCIAC is in the midst of a wild and crazy season, with a host of teams in the running for state playoff bids, including Wilton and Ridgefield.

The Warriors are actually a two-point conversion away from being 5-1. They lost to Notre Dame-West Haven 36-35 when the Knights scored on a two-point play for an overtime win.

Against Darien, Wilton held a 36-35 lead with 10:35 remaining, but the Wave scored the final 21 points to win 56-36.

The victory over New Canaan was a leap forward, as the Warriors didn’t tire in the fourth quarter and the defense made big plays.

“During 7-on-7s, I knew offensively we were going to be pretty potent,” Wilton coach EJ DiNunzio said. “Defensively, I didn’t know how we’d be because we have some young guys playing and we still do. I was really proud of the way the defense stood up (against New Canaan) because that has been an issue for us.”

Offensively, the Warriors have excelled behind the athleticism of several players at the skill positions.

Masterson, a proficient passer and running threat, is the engine at QB, with Woodring and Ben Calabrese as the lead receivers, and Jake Sommer starring in the ground game.

“A lot of that chemistry comes with practice in the offseason,” Masterson said. “We really worked on our routes in 7-on-7s and on our own, perfecting our timing. We have a lot of studs at our skill positions and our linemen have done a great job this year protecting me and allowing me to get the ball to the receivers.”

Many of the seniors are multi-sport standouts.

Woodring, who has committed to Cornell football, could be one of the FCIAC’s top basketball players this winter, and Masterson is a lacrosse standout and will play that sport for Army next year. Calabrese (Army) and Sommer (Notre Dame) are also Div. I lacrosse commits.

“I stress to my guys to play as many sports as possible,” DiNunzio said.”My team is composed of athletes who play football, not just football players who play football. So they’re able to do things on the field that some football players can’t do. It’s great to have them involved in other sports and I think it pays off for them.”

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Masterson is a dual threat. He’s thrown for more than 1,100 yards and rushed for 400. His mobility has given opposing defenses trouble. Against top-ranked Darien, he passed for 244 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 91 yards as the Warriors put 36 points on the board.

“Grant is someone who isn’t afraid to take a hit and he’s going to do what he has to do to win the game,” Woodring said. “He’ll run up the middle, he’ll throw that deep ball, and he’ll take that hit. He’s really the heart and soul of our team this year.”

DiNunzio said Masterson’s ability to run the ball even had the coaching staff considering starting him as a sophomore during a playoff game versus St. Joseph in 2019.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Woodring is a remarkable athlete and had his best numbers against New Canaan with eight receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. He also leads the Warriors in interceptions on defense.

“Parker’s a big-time playmaker on offense and defense,” Masterson said. “I can rely on him to go up and make a big catch. Even if it’s in double coverage, he’ll go up and make the play. On defense he’s all over the field making big hits and locking down the team’s best receivers. It’s nice to have him on our team.”

The key for the Warriors now is coming off the high of beating New Canaan while getting ready for Saturday’s game against Ridgefield.

“(Beating New Canaan) was huge for us, especially for making the playoffs,” Masterson said. “We know we can compete with anyone in the state. We’re going into the Ridgefield game confident and we’re excited to play.”; @dstewartsports