Three touchdown passes from quarterback Danny Lauter, sensational defensive play and a 21-point first half resulted in a very happy Homecoming Day game for the Brunswick School football team on Saturday, before a packed house at Robert L. Cosby Field.
The Bruins put on quite a show before the large Homecoming crowd, which included a lot of alumni and a supportive student section. And when the came concluded, the Bruins added another important win to their ledger.
Lauter passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns and Brunswick rushed for 180 yards in its convincing 34-14 win over Cheshire Academy in a Northeast Prep League game.
With its second straight victory, the Bruins upped their record to 5-2, heading into next week’s game against Avon Old Farms School.
“The kids were really excited for our Homecoming game,” Brunswick coach Mike Hannigan said. “We had a great breakfast, a great inspirational speech from an alum. He talked about the history of Brunswick football and what it meant to him to play. The kids were motivated and came out and played a great game.”
After trading unproductive opening drives, the Bruins capitalized on great field position on first down when Lauter connected with senior wide receiver Ashton Winegardner on a 33-yard scoring strike, giving the team a 7-0 lead.
“I was basically lined up on the outside with the cornerback and the safety bit down, so the post opened wide up in the middle of the field and Danny hit me in stride with the ball,” said Winegardner, whose older brother Nick, a standout quarterback and 2020 Brunswick graduate, was in attendance.
Lauter found the speedy Winegardner again in the second quarter on a 57 yard flea-flicker to go up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
“We got a stop it was first down, we called a flea flicker, because we knew they weren’t expecting it,” Winegardner said. “I blew by my guy and it was a beautiful pass by Danny.”
Said Lauter: “We all stepped up, we all knew this was a big game and we had to win it and everyone came out and did the job. Our offensive line did a great job of blocking.”
Senior Chris Gaine reached the end zone on a 5-yard run later in the quarter, extending the Bruins’ lead to 21-0 Bruins with just over two minutes remaining in the half. Cheshire (4-2) mounted an effective two-minute drill, working the sidelines and hitting one long pass to get down into Brunswick territory. The Cats ultimately found a receiver in the end zone, cutting the Bruins’ lead to 21-7 at halftime.
Brunswick continued to effectively mix the run and pass throughout the second half. Kha’lil Eason, a senior, scored on an 8-yard run in the third quarter and a junior Tomas Delgado snared a 19-yard pass from Lauter in the fourth quarter for a touchdown.
“We had a two-high look and we had a go on the outside and we drilled it to him and he caught it back shoulder for a touchdown,” Lauter said of his touchdown pass to Delgado.
Hannigan credited offensive linemen, Miles Walker, Cliff Belknap, Michael Burton, Tyler Wilson, Will Janis and Matt Augustine for keeping the Cheshire defensive line on their heels all day.
Defensively, Hunter Clark, Jalen Johnson, Michael Neviera and Jesse Schutzman each registered tackles for lost yardage. Hannigan said the defensive line of Jurgis Schmedlen, Lyndon Gay, Michael Neviera, Jesse Schutzman, Reed Eddy, EJ Perez and Taylor Primack played aggressively and up-field, making the Cheshire offense work hard throughout the game.
Brunswick’s Homecoming was especially significant to its seniors, including captains Charlie Johnson (defensive back), George Villis (linebacker), Winegardner and Burton, all of whom turned in impressive performances in their final Homecoming game.
“We definitely had motivation from two years ago, because we lost on Homecoming in overtime, so we wanted to come back from that,” George Villis said. “We watched a lot of film, we knew their formations, so we had to play hard and play fast. We knew they were going to be a tough team.”
Said Hannigan: “On defense, our team has really adopted the bend but don’t break attitude. They might break a big play, but we’ll the kids did a good job of rallying to the ball, a good job in coverage. And we ran some nice twists and stuff and got some pressure.”
Clark registered numerous tackles from his linebacker position and was instrumental in disrupting Cheshire Academy’s offense throughout the day.
“We all played together, we were having fun, that’s the biggest thing, we wanted to do is have fun,” Clark said. “We came into the game very prepared and we watched a lot of film with the coaches too. Everyone took notes and did everything we needed to do to win.”
The atmosphere also served as a source of inspiration to the Bruins.
“The crowd was awesome, we fed off the crowd,” Clark said. “They were loud, which is exactly what we needed and winning on Homecoming in front of the alumni is amazing.”
Brunswick travels to Avon Old Farms on Saturday for a 6 p.m. matchup.
“It was a great team win all-around,” Lauter said. “Now we have to come out and win next week.”