Fall sports

Greenwich builds big lead, then hangs on to beat FCIAC football rival Ridgefield

Photo by David Fierro: Chason Barber of Greenwich looks for running room after making a reception, while Ridgefield defensive back Christopher Reinhardt closes in on him during an FCIAC football matchup on Sept. 18, 2021.

Greenwich registered six touchdowns against Ridgefield, two of which were scored by brothers Logan and Griffin Galletta on special teams and defense, respectively.

As it turned out, the Cardinals needed both of the Galletta brothers’ scores to seal the deal against a Tigers team that staged a ferocious fourth-quarter rally.

Logan Galletta returned a punt for a touchdown and Griffin Galletta intercepted a pass and reached the end zone for the Cardinals, who used a 28-point first half to post a 42-34 victory over the Tigers in an FCIAC matchup held at steamy Boyle Stadium on Saturday.

Greenwich, which opened its 2021 season last week with a 49-6 road win against Westhill, held leads of 28-7 at halftime and 42-14 after three quarters. Ridgefield (0-1) however, scored 21 fourth-quarter points, making it a one-score game.

“We preach it all the time, you have to hydrate your bodies, you have to take care of your bodies, we had some guys that were starting to cramp up and shut down – it was warmer today,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “Ultimately, you have to finish and that’s something we have to work on with our team. Playing four quarters of football, we played three great quarters of football. Hopefully, it was a lesson to the guys, there were a lot of teachable moments.”

Photo by David Fierro: Logan Galletta, left and Griffin Galletta, each scored touchdowns for Greenwich vs. Ridgefield.

Logan Galletta, a junior who is in his first Cardinals season, scored on a 65-yard punt return down the left sideline, giving Greenwich a 21-0 lead with 9:36 remaining in the second quarter.

“The ball was pretty high, I looked up, then looked back in front of me and saw two guys were kind of far away, so I went to the outside and went to the sideline and saw it was wide open,” said Galletta, a returner, wide receiver and defensive back. “So I ran that in and it felt great.”

He has quickly fit into Greenwich’s diversified offense, which features a variety of receivers and running backs.

“It’s great, I have been with these guys my whole life, playing football with them in elementary school,” Logan Galletta said. “It’s great playing Greenwich High School football. Overall, our offense was pretty solid. But this game shows we need to clean up a lot of stuff defensively and offensively. Ridgefield was a tough opponent.”

Griffin Galletta gave Greenwich what seemed to be a commanding 42-14 lead, intercepting Tigers junior quarterback Justin Keller and returning it 30 yards to the end zone.

Greenwich linebacker Griffin Galletta has a clear path to the end zone after intercepting a pass vs. Ridgefield.

“Honestly, it was pretty surreal I didn’t think it was happening,” said Griffin Galletta, a linebacker. “I saw the ball float up to my hands and I took it all the way to the house.”

Moving the first down chains with short, effective passes and key runs from senior James Babb and junior George Vomvolakis, Greenwich drove 80 yards for a touchdown on its first possession. Babb capped the drive, taking a handoff from junior quarterback Jack Wilson and weaving his way into the end zone from 11 yards out.

On the Cardinals’ ensuing possession, Babb scored on an impressive 35-yard run. Sergot Boone once again, kicked the extra point, putting the Cards on top, 14-0 on the last play of the first quarter.

James Babb scored two touchdowns in Greenwich’s 42-34 triumph against Ridgefield at Boyle Stadium in Stamford.

“Our offensive line created a huge hole and I just hit that hole hard,” Babb said of his first touchdown. “On the second one, once again, the offensive line made a huge hole and we were able to catch them off guard and I was able to score again.”

Ridgefield got on the scoreboard at the 8:26 mark of the second quarter. Keller rolled to his right and connected with receiver Nick Wright for a 14-yard touchdown, cutting Greenwich’s advantage to 21-14.

Junior defensive lineman Cameron Doyle recovered a fumble that was caused by Griffin Galletta sack when Greenwich took over in Tigers territory, Wilson threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout James Wailgum, making it 28-7 with 1:27 left in the first half.

Greenwich quarterback Jack Wilson efficiently led the offense against Ridgefield on Saturday, Sept, 18, 2021.

Wilson completed 13 of 19 passes for 109 yards and gained key first downs in the fourth quarter with his legs.

“We were definitely clicking in the first half and it was good to have a lead,” Wilson said. “But in the second half, we were stagnant for a bit there, which we can’t do.”

The Cardinals signal-caller knows the team must keep its focus throughout each game.

“In games like that we have to keep our foot on the pedal,” he said.

Added Morello: “Jack is doing a great job. Situationally, there’s still things to work on, but he led this offense down the field for multiple drives and we’re really happy with his progression.”

Ridgefield receiver Kyle Colsey attempts to make a finger tip catch off a pass from Justin Keller against Greenwich.

Junior Thomas Foster added to the Cardinals’ lead when he broke loose from the Tigers’ defense and dashed for a 47-yard touchdown run, giving his squad a 35-7 lead 21 seconds into the second quarter. After Ridgefield made it 35-14 on Keller’s 25-yard scoring strike to senior wideout Kyle Showstead, Griffin Galletta scored on his interception return later in the quarter, putting the Tigers in a 42-14 hole.

One more Greenwich score would have resulted in the game going to running time, but Ridgefield had other plans. The Tigers scored 21 unanswered points in the final quarter, courtesy of three Keller touchdown passes, one of which went to Wright.

“Ridgefield’s offense was solid,” Logan Galletta said. “We had a tough time guarding them. They kept running that same play and we had a tough time. But overall, they are a solid team.  Our defensive line played tough, our linebackers played tough, they were blitzing hard. They kept coming back on us, but the defense held on.”

Ridgefield quarterback Justin Keller gets ready to pass while being pressured by defensive lineman Dominic DeLuca.

Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan was proud of the spirit his squad showed throughout. Keller finished the game with 299 yards passing.

“To come back from that says a lot about these kids,” Callahan said. “We play five of the top 10, we play seven of the top-15 teams this year. We’re going to be in battles and we’re going to be down. But they can now say look at how we fought back against Greenwich and learn from this game.”

Leading 42-34 after the Tigers’ third straight touchdown, the Cardinals gained a much-needed first down, enabling them to run out the clock. Wilson got the first down with a run up the middle.

“Toward the end, we were just thinking we have to get a couple of first downs to shut the game down,” said Wilson, who spread the ball around to receivers Chason Barber, Galletta, Zach Mantione, Babb and Wailgum. “We got a couple of first downs at the end, so it felt good.”

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s student section, ‘The Cardinal Crazies’ supported the team throughout.

Morello knows the team received a big spark from the Galletta brothers.

“They are great players, they are great teammates,” he said. “They arrive early and stay late. They are super dependable, anything you need from them in all aspects of the game, they are willing to do and they are solid additions and contributors to the team.”

Greenwich visits an unfamiliar foe in the form of Shelton on Friday at 7 p.m.

“Being in a tough game like this is good for the following weeks to come, because we have a lot of tough games coming up,” said Babb, who rushed for 55 yards. “We have a big work week coming up. Mentally, we have to stay in the game a little longer, so this won’t happen again.”

Greenwich’s cheerleaders lead the cheers during a game against Ridgefield on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

EXTRA POINTS: Defensive back John Scarlata was credited with 6.5 tackles for Greenwich. … Defensive end Dominic DeLuca had 5.5 tackles and Logan Galletta registered four tackles. … Barber and Wailgum led Greenwich’s receiving corps with four receptions apiece.

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