After Gavin Muir led Greenwich High School’s football team to a state championship in 2018 and broke nearly every Cardinals career passing record, James Rinello helped guide the squad to a successful season in 2019, before COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 campaign.
Now a pair of juniors are among those competing for the role as starting quarterback for the Cardinals – a position of strength for the team in the past.
Holden Brown and Jack Wilson, both of whom are rising juniors, will soon each begin their first varsity football season for Greenwich, which like many teams in the state, will feature a new starting quarterback this fall.
“Jack and Holden are rising juniors and a slew of sophomore quarterbacks are getting work with our quarterbacks coach,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “Like every position, we are going to be battling and competing until through August and early September.”
Wilson and Brown are currently showcasing their quarterback skills at the Grip It and Rip It 7-on-7 passing tournament held at New Canaan High School. Greenwich split its team into two squads at the Grip It and Rip It competition, which began Friday and concludes Saturday. Brown and Wilson are each leading one group at quarterback for the Cards.
“Jack and Holden have separated themselves in the quarterback competition,” Morello said. “They ran our offense their freshman year and they have been leading our quarterback work for the 7-on-7 stuff we’ve been doing. They also had time to work with James Rinello the past two years and even Gavin Muir has been helping with the quarterbacks.”
Brown has recently attended several passing camps in preparation for the upcoming season.
“I’ve gone to Duke, Coastal Carolina, ECU and Wake Forrest,” Brown said. “Duke was the first one I went to. It was competitive, I learned a lot there. There were people from all around the country competing, so I got to rise my game up. It was a super cool learning experience about the college recruiting process and how much it takes to actually get noticed.”
An appearance at Wake Forest’s camp also helped hone his skills.
“That was a great camp with good competition,” Brown said. “It was also another great learning experience. There was a lot of local competition and it was great to compete. For me, it is about testing myself.”
Indeed, the Cardinals’ 2021 season has been a long time coming for Brown, who has been sidelined the majority of the past two seasons. Like everyone, he missed the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown, who was also nursing a back injury a year ago, was sidelined for all but one game a freshman in 2019 with an elbow injury.
“From overuse of my elbow, I got to sit out a couple of weeks as a freshman and then I got hit in my elbow again and completely broke it and had to have surgery on it,” Brown said. “In my second season, I didn’t get to play at all. I am super eager for the season to start, since I had to sit out and watch everybody compete.”
Like Brown, Wilson welcomes the competition for the starting role.
“It’s really fun, we’ve got good wide receivers, so it’s going to be a good competition,” Wilson said.
Having a deep receiving corps will enable the quarterbacks to excel Wilson noted.
“It’s great, we have guys all over the place to throw to,” he said. “It’s always good when you’re in trouble to know you have some guys you can count on.”
Morello is pleased with what he’s seen from Brown and Wilson as they prepare for the rapidly approaching 2021 season.
“Jack has a great temperament,” Morello said. “You know what you’re going to get every time he steps on the field. He’s a hard worker, he’s very smart, he knows the playbook inside and out and he has a strong arm. Holden makes quick decisions. He goes through is progressions really well and has a very quick release. The offense has some new facets to it that they are both working on. They both have great temperaments.”
Greenwich’s junior quarterbacks both played in the Greenwich Youth Football League as youngsters and kept a close eye on the Cardinals’ varsity team.
“I used to come to the games all the time. Gavin Muir was inspiring,” Brown said. “Gavin Muir (2019 GHS graduate playing at Dartmouth) was definitely my mentor. He inspired me, I wanted to be him. Being a part of this team is super exciting. I am excited for the competition and excited to compete and showcase my skills.”
Said Wilson: “It’s exciting, to be a part of such a great organization like this and having these guys around me. The quarterback last year, James Rinello (2021 graduate playing at Johns Hopkins), he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes and helped to prepare me with the gap year we had. He was a big help to me. This is my dream to be the quarterback here. Seeing Gavin Muir and all of the quarterbacks from the past – it’s been great.”
Chason Barber, who is entering his senior year at Greenwich, will be relied upon to help pace Greenwich’s group of receivers. Barber, who is drawing interest from numerous colleges, is gaining a rapport with the quarterbacks.
“They are both fairly inexperienced, because they are young incoming juniors, so we have been working with them a lot to get our time down and chemistry going,” Barber said. “It’s going pretty well so far.”
“Both of them are talented, they both would be excellent starters in our system,” Greenwich rising senior/wide receiver Zach Mantione said of Wilson and Brown. I’m really proud of what both of them have accomplished so far and the amount of work they have put in.”