With a quarterback entering his second season as a starter and numerous athletes returning at the wide receiver and tight end positions, Greenwich High School’s football team’s passing attack should be once again, be one of the squad’s strengths.
“We’re very deep at those positions (wide receiver, tight end) with some guys who have been with the program for four years,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “We have a lot of receivers in the pipeline.”
The 15th annual Grip It and Rip It 7-on-7 Passing Championship at New Canaan High School on Friday and Saturday gave the 33 participating teams an opportunity to see their quarterbacks and receiving corps build all-important rapport and chemistry with each other.
Greenwich continued to do so, with quarterback Jack Wilson, a rising senior, who started all 11 games during the 2021 season, consistently completing passes to the team’s wide receivers and tight ends during the Grip It and Rip It 7-on-7 tournament at New Canaan. The Cardinals played nine games in two days at the passing tournament, which they have attended annually since the event’s inception.
“It’s definitely going to be another strength of our team,” Wilson said of the team’s receiving corps. “I’m spending a lot of time with the guys. I’m familiar with everybody and I just feel like we know what we want to achieve. I know what they’re doing and they know what I want to do.”
Dominic DeLuca, who will serve as one of the Cardinals’ four captains during the upcoming 2022 season, should give the squad a boost at tight end. He lined up at defensive end last season, a position he flourished at. This fall, he’s expected to be more of a two-way player.
“He played all D-end last year, he didn’t play tight end,” Morello said. “He’s grown and he’s gotten his body into peak position. He’s going to be a vertical threat, he’s going to help our running game.”
Morello noted that DeLuca will also be utilized as a blocker.
“He’s in the blocking scheme, he’s in the passing scheme,” Morello said of DeLuca. “He’s going to make the team that much more versatile. I’m really happy with what Dom has done from an offensive standpoint and I can’t wait to see him lining up on the field in the fall.”
The Cardinals registered a record of 7-4 in 2021 and qualified for the CIAC Class LL Tournament, where they dropped a 21-14 decision to Fairfield Prep in the quarterfinal round in Fairfield. The losses, especially the playoff defeat, have been sources of extra motivation for Greenwich, which has 11 state championships to its ledger.
“I know for us who played in the game last year when we lost in the playoffs, two days later, we were back in the weight room,” DeLuca said. “Everyone on this team is poised for a great season. No one wants to lose a single game.”
DeLuca was pleased to play in this weekend’s Grip It and Rip It 7-on-7 tournament.
“The competitiveness – competing against other teams was good for us,” he said. “We learned a lot about ourselves and how we stand up against competition.”
Michael Moeller and Xander Tommasino, both of whom are rising seniors, will provide depth at tight end for the Cardinals.
“They are both going to be contributors for us as well,” Morello said.
At wide receiver, rising seniors Charlie Dixon and James Wailgum are primed to build upon the productive 2021 seasons they each enjoyed.
“Our offense can be really dominant,” Dixon said. “We have a few things to work on, but I feel like we can be really explosive and score a lot of points each game.”
Greenwich averaged 27 points per game last fall and hopes to improve their offensive output during the upcoming season, which has them visiting a formidable Newtown team on Sept. 9.
“Three of our starters this year started last year,” Dixon noted. “The sky is the limit for us. Our team is really close too, so it’s really easy to make adjustments.”
Dixon believes the team learned plenty from its postseason appearance in 2021.
“Last year was a good experience, we got some good playoff experience,” Dixon said. “Especially with not having a sophomore year. I feel like it really helped us this year.”
Wailgum, who caught some key touchdown passes a year ago, shared the same sentiment.
“It was a great confidence-builder,” Wailgum said of the team qualifying for the postseason in 2021. “Last year, we had a couple of losses throughout the season and the one thing about loss is you learn when you lose. When you lose, you know how to bounce back. The playoff loss last year builds character for everyone on this roster and moving forward, we’re really excited.”
“Everyone has a role to play and we have a lot of great leaders on our offense and we have a lot of returning season,” Wailgum continued.
Said Morello: “Charlie Dixon and James Wailgum have been working side-by-side in tandem since they were freshmen. They have an understanding of the system and they can play any position on the field. They know the concept and they know the routes. There is always great positive energy from both of them and they’re very hard workers. From a skill standpoint, they are going to be major vertical threats. They’re fast, they have good hands and they are leaders.”
Jake Stefanowicz, Gavyn Gennarelli and Brandon Auguste, each rising juniors, are among some of the squad’s plethora of wide receivers that are expected to contribute to the passing attack.
“I can’t wait for the season to begin, I’m counting down the hours,” DeLuca said. “We have to stay focused and do whatever we have to do to win each game.”