Fall sports

Greenwich football team hangs on to defeat Darien for the first time since 2007, 28-20; Cardinals improve record to 6-1

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich linebacker John Insinga hangs onto the jersey of Darien wide receiver Trevor Herget on his way to making a tackle during an FCIAC football game on October 29, 2022, in Darien.

Known as the most successful team in FCIAC football history, Greenwich has defeated the majority of its conference opponents numerous times over the years.

Yet one FCIAC team has enjoyed an advantage on the Cardinals for more than a decade – rival Darien, which has experienced a lot of success since 2008.

Entering today’s FCIAC matchup at Darien, the Blue Wave were 9-0 against the Cardinals dating back to the 2007 season, which was the last time Greenwich posted a win against Darien. Included in those nine victories were three postseason victories against the Cardinals.

It took a lot of effort and teamwork – a key goal line stand late in the second quarter, a crucial fourth-quarter defensive stop and an effective offensive first half for Greenwich to get that long-awaited win.

Senior quarterback Jack Wilson passed for 264 yards and one touchdown, senior wide receiver James Wailgum had 142 receiving yards and Greenwich’s defense held strong in the final quarter in a hard-fought 28-20 victory over Darien before a large crowd at Darien.

Greenwich senior wide receiver Charlie Dixon hauls in a touchdown pass from Jack Wilson against Darien.

“This game meant a lot to our team,” Wilson said. “We hadn’t beaten them in 15 years, so this game was super important to our program. We were able to keep our composure and we played under control and with confidence throughout the game, which led to this win.”

With its fourth consecutive victory, Greenwich raised its record to 6-1 and continued to improve its positioning for the state tournament. The Blue Wave held a 7-0 edge after the first quarter, but the Cardinals outscored the home team, 21-0, in the second quarter to seize a 14-point halftime advantage.

“The players on our team were in cribs and cradles the last time Greenwich beat Darien,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “The last time Darien lost to Greenwich going into this game was 2007, so that opened our eyes.”

Greenwich quarterback Jack Wilson hands the ball off during a game against rival Darien at Darien High School.

The loss put the breaks on Darien’s three-game win streak and put its record at 4-3. Coached by Mike Forget, the Blue Wave will most likely have to win their remaining games and need some help to qualify for the postseason.

Darien senior quarterback Simeon Doll had one of his best games of the season, passing for 388 yards and a touchdown. The Blue Wave have shown consistent improvement offensively since the beginning of the season. Doll had success throwing to senior wide receivers Trevor Herget and Isaac McMullin and junior Brady Pokorny.

“After the first few games, the offense has played great,” Forget said. “The offense has come together well, they’ve done what they’ve needed to do and have executed very well.”

Darien quarterback Simeon Doll looks to pass while being pressured by Greenwich’s defensive line.

Behind 7-0, the Cardinals tied the score by driving 49 yards in four plays. Junior Brandon Auguste helped set up Greenwich’s first score by returning Darien’s kickoff to the GHS 49-yard line. Wilson completed a 40-yard pass to Wailgum, putting the ball at the Darien 11-yard line. Wailgum caught a 9-yard pass the next play and two plays later, Wilson scored on a quarterback sneak. Senior Sergot Boone converted the first of his four PATs, evening the score at 7-7 three seconds into the second quarter.

Following a Blue Wave three-and-out thanks to stellar pass defense, the Cards added to their lead the ensuing drive. Wilson again used his legs to cap the drive, this time bulling his way into the end zone from two yards out, making it 14-7 at the 8:40 mark of the second quarter.

The drive was sparked by receptions of 40 and 20 yards by Wailgum and senior wideout Charlie Dixon, respectively.

Greenwich takes the lead on a Jack Wilson sneak. Click arrow to watch.

“We ran a lot of RPO (run/pass option), which was effective for us,” Wailgum said. “The first half, Jack was on fire and our receivers and running backs did what they could to make plays. It was a battle out there and we still have a lot to work on, but we’re very excited about how our season is going.”

Greenwich defense continued to flourish in the first half, with senior linebacker John Insinga, junior lineman Griffin Galletta, linebacker/defensive back Matthew Trimmer and senior lineman Dominic DeLuca pacing the way, enabling the Cardinals offense to get back on the field. Morello also credited senior defensive lineman Andre Castellanos, as well as the Cardinals’ secondary for stepping up in crucial situations.

“The first half we played really good defense, we did what we had to do to stop them,” Insinga said. “The second half, they came out strong and made some plays on us to get back into the game. But overall, I thought we did a good job of putting pressure on their quarterback and we stopped the run. They stopped running the ball in the second half.”

Photo by David Fierro: Darien receiver Briggs McGuckin attempts to make a reception, while being defended by Kane Ehrhart during a football game held at Darien High School on October 29, 2022.

Said Galletta: “Their offense gave us some problems with the quick passes they threw, but we came together and played tough defense. That was an exciting game to be a part of and it took all of us executing to win it.”

“The Cardinals extended their lead when Wilson lofted a pass down the right sideline into the arms of Dixon for a 44-yard touchdown, putting the visitors on top, 21-7, with 2:15 left in the second quarter.

Dixon had four receptions for 79 yards for Greenwich, which had 316 yards of total offense.

“We worked on that play in practice during the week, it was a slant-and-go and Jack made a perfect pass,” Dixon said of his touchdown catch. “All week in practice, we’ve heard about how 2007 was the last time Greenwich defeated Darien. So, of course, we wanted to end that streak.”

Greenwich’s Matthew Trimmer makes a tackle on a Darien receiver.

With Doll completing several passes to Herget and a pair of passes to McMullin, the Blue Wave threatened to make it a one-score game late in the second quarter. On a third down play with nine seconds left in the second quarter, the Cardinals’ defense stopped the Blue Wave on the 1-yard line to preserve a 21-7 halftime edge.

“That was a huge goal line stand right before halftime,” Morello said. “It was a momentum-changer. To go into halftime up 14 against a great team like Darien – we couldn’t have been happier.”

A 2-yard run by Doll with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter sealed a 48-yard drive that was keyed by a 22-yard reception by Herget and cut Greenwich’s lead to 21-14.

The Cards regained their two-score lead on senior George Vomvolakis’ 32-yard touchdown reception on a nifty catch-and-run off a Wilson pass at the 10:06 mark of the fourth quarter. Darien again closed to within one score when Doll connected with Herget from five yards out with 6:42 to go in the final quarter. In a significant play, Greenwich senior Ryan Bailey blocked the point-after attempt, keeping the Cards eight points ahead at 28-20.

“That was a big play by our special teams, it took some pressure off us,” Morello noted.

Ryan Beiley, right, blocked an extra point for Greenwich against Darien.

Darien’s final drive stalled at the Greenwich 42-yard line, as the Cardinals’ secondary and pass defense stepped up.

Greenwich’s previous win against Darien was in September of 2007 – a 28-7 triumph.

Senior Jack Konigsberg led Greenwich’s running game with 33 yards, while Wailgum powered the receiving corps with 10 receptions. The Cardinals gained 16 first downs for the game and did not commit a turnover.

Wilson passed the ball 28 times and was once again, well protected by the Cards’ group of offensive linemen – Jake Kiernan, Peter Vomvolakis, Teddy Flinn, Vincent Insinga and Drew Falla.

Greenwich’s football team holds helmets up in the air during the National Anthem prior to a game against Darien.

Greenwich runs on to the field for its game against Darien.

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