They scored 22 points in the first quarter, added 23 more in the second quarter and received touchdowns from seven different players.
Indeed, Greenwich High School’s football team’s offense was once again, virtually unstoppable, this time against visiting Danbury.
And while the Cardinals’ offense was nearly unstoppable, their defense came up with plenty of stops against the Hatters. All of that added up to a resounding Senior Day victory for the Cardinals.
Senior quarterback Jack Wilson threw five touchdown passes for Greenwich, which scored 45 first-half points on its way to upending Danbury, 59-6, at Cardinal Stadium.
The Cardinals celebrated their Senior Day and they certainly received contributions from many of their upperclassmen in this FCIAC West Division matchup.
“It was a good day today, we were able to get a lot of guys involved and spread the ball around,” said Wilson, one of the Cardinals’ four captains. “It was a good confidence-booster for sure.”
Greenwich upped its record to 7-1 with its fifth consecutive victory. The Cardinals are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class LL. If they defeat Stamford next week and Staples on Thanksgiving, they will secure the No. 1 seed in the CIAC Class LL Tournament. Danbury sports a record of 4-4 following its second straight loss.
“I thought we did a good job today,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “Danbury is one of the oldest rivalries we have and we knew that they were coming out for their playoff hopes, so we had a good week of practice. They’re a winning football team and hopefully, they can get healthy. I know they had some injuries today that they had to overcome. We were able to get our seniors in today and everyone contributed to this win, it’s always a good feeling.”
After Greenwich forced Danbury to go three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, the home team didn’t waste any time in lighting the scoreboard. Speedy junior Brandon Auguste returned the ensuing punt all the way to the Hatters’ 5-yard line, using his elusiveness to get past defenders along the way.
Two plays later, Wilson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver James Wailgum, who showed good concentration, as the pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Senior Sergot Boone booted the first of his numerous extra points and the Cards held a 7-0 lead with 9:14 remaining in the first quarter.
Danbury’s best highlight of the game came on their third possession. Hatters junior quarterback John Bardin dropped back to pass and lofted a long pass along the left sideline that was hauled in by junior wide receiver JC Joyner, who sprinted to the end zone, completing an impressive 94-yard play for a touchdown. The PAT was not converted and Greenwich held a 7-6 edge with 5:01 to go in the opening quarter.
That’s all the scoring the Hatters managed against the Cards’ swarming defense, which pressured Bardin throughout and effectively covered the receivers.
“I was proud of the way we came out, we came out strong, we came out hard,” GHS defensive back/quad-captain Matthew Trimmer said. “We had one defensive play where we were a little flat, but after that, we set the tone and I’m proud of our backups who came in too. They took care of the job.”
The Cardinals quickly responded to the Hatters’ score. On the next possession, Wilson rolled right and threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Jack Konigsberg, making it 14-6 at the 3:22 mark of the opening quarter. Wilson passed for 197 yards.
“We’re definitely hitting our stride,” Wilson said. “We know what we can do as an offense, we just have to stay consistent and always keep our foot on the gas, because that’s how you win the big games.”
Sacks by senior defensive lineman/quad-captain Jake Kiernan and senior defensive lineman Andre Castellanos prevented Danbury from moving the ball on its next possession. Greenwich promptly scored again, with this time senior tight end/quad-captain Dominic DeLuca catching a 36-yard touchdown pass off from Wilson off a seam pattern on the final play of the first quarter.
“I saw they didn’t have a safety over the top and I said let me take the seam and he trusted me and the play hit,” DeLuca said of his touchdown reception. “I can’t wait for our upcoming games. I think we’re hitting our stride. We’ll have good practices and good games are coming.”
The scoring play gave GHS a 22-6 lead after the first quarter, because Kiernan caught a 2-point conversion pass from Wilson, in a surprise play. It’s not often that you see lineman reach the end zone, but Kiernan came through.
“We put in at the start of the week, with me maybe getting a two-point conversion, so to convert was awesome,” Kiernan said. “It was incredible.”
Besides helping anchor the offensive line, Kiernan has seen increased snaps on the defensive line as well.
“I try to do whatever I can for the team to help them out,” Kiernan said. “I thought I could help out on defense a little bit and I love being out there as much as possible.”
A 5-yard touchdown catch by senior wideout Charlie Dixon and a 9-yard run by senior running back George Vomvolakis in the second quarter increased Greenwich’s advantage to 36-6 with 1:23 still left in the second quarter.
The Cards’ defense gave the squad a couple of points, when junior linebacker Griffin Galletta tackled Bardin in the end zone for a safety, after the Hatters QB caught his own pass off a deflection deep in Danbury territory.
“Defensively, were just flying around,” Galletta said. “We knew we had to come out here and set the tone. We gave up an early touchdown, but we knew that couldn’t happen and we stuck to our defense. During practice, we bring our energy, which helps us get ready for each game. The more tight-knit that we are, the better we play and the better we perform.”
Leading 38-6, Greenwich’s first half scoring was finally capped when the sure-handed Dixon snared a 13-yard scoring strike in the right corner of the end zone from Wilson, with 29 seconds to go in the second quarter.
“We made some mistakes today and fortunately we were able to overcome them with some explosive plays,” Morello said. “It was great to see the ball in so many different hands. Six different guys scored for us offensively. It’s great to see Jack spreading the ball around. We’re trying to make it as tough on opposing defenses as possible so spreading the ball around is the easiest way to do that.”
In the second half, senior backup quarterback Rocco Grillo threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Auguste. Junior running back Ian Kim reached the end zone on an 11-yard in the second half for the Cardinals.
“We have the same goal as all these other teams in the playoff hunt now,” Trimmer said. “We want a ring just as bad as everyone else. Our defense – we’ve had some struggles here and there in the season. I feel like we’re starting to feel more comfortable and we are looking good. I love what I see right now.”
For the game, Greenwich totaled 366 yards, while holding Danbury to 176, 94 of which came on its one touchdown pass play. DeLuca had 95 yards receiving, while Dixon had 53. Kim gained 70 yards on the ground, while Vomvolakis had 41 rushing yards.
Once again, Greenwich received standout play from offensive linemen Teddy Flinn, Kiernan, Drew Falla, Peter Vomvolakis and Vincent Insinga.
“I’ve played youth football with these guys, so it’s great to see us come out here and have success on Senior Day,” Falla said. “It was a big win, we put a lot of points up on the board and hopefully, we can continue this momentum going into the playoffs.”
“Our offensive line, we’re a tight-knit group,” Falla continued. “Coach (Bruce) Cunnigham expects nothing but perfection and that’s all that we can ask for. We’ve been communicating with each other the whole game. It all comes down to knowing each other and trusting each other.”