The end zone was like a second home for Greenwich running backs Jack Konigsberg and George Vomvolakis, as the duo spent Saturday’s FCIAC football game against Stamford running around, away and through Stamford’s defense at Boyle Stadium.
Greenwich’s defensive unit also made itself at home, making the Black Knights earn most of the yards they gained, while preventing them from reaching the end zone.
Yes, it was another successful day on both sides of the ball for the Cardinals, who extended their winning streak to six games, while positioning themselves for the postseason.
Vomvolakis and Konigsberg each ran for three touchdowns for Greenwich, which amassed 35 first-half points on its way to coasting to a 49-10 triumph against host Stamford in spring-like weather on this November day.
The victory improved Greenwich’s record to 8-1 and kept its ranking at No. 1 in the CIAC Class LL standings. Greenwich closes out its regular season on Thanksgiving with a game against FCIAC rival Staples, which also sports an 8-1 record. Staples is ranked fourth in Class LL.
Saturday’s win against the Black Knights (3-6) saw Vomvolakis and Konigsberg each rush for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns on only eight and nine carries, respectively. The speedy, hard-running duo had plenty of room to run up the middle, with offensive linemen Teddy Flinn, Jake Kiernan, Peter Vomvolakis, Vincent Insinga and Drew Falla working hard to open up the holes and creating running lanes.
“Going into this game, we wanted the ground game to work,” said Konigsberg, who has produced a standout senior season in the backfield – he rushed for 120 yards on nine carries Saturday. “It’s great to see that the O-line had a great push up front and we were able to do what we wanted in the running game.”
Behind strong-armed senior quarterback Jack Wilson, the Cardinals’ offense has flourished in the air and on the ground this season. The running attack was the point of emphasis for the Cardinals against the host Black Knights though.
“It was great to see us get back to ground and pound and have a smash mouth kind of game up front,” GHS coach Anthony Morello said. “We had some success through the air the over the past three or four games. The first quarter we were throwing into the wind and we come out running the ball effectively. The game plan every week is to establish the run and the guys up front did a great job. The communication up front was great.”
Stamford, which was coming off a game in which they gave a strong St. Joseph team all it could handle in a 17-13 loss, was limited to 113 yards of total offense by the Cards. Sophomore quarterback Ejai Presley led Stamford’s offense, passing for 40 yards, while mixing in some runs for first downs.
“This week, we knew their run plays, we knew they had a lot of formations,” Cardinals senior defensive lineman Andre Castellanos said. “We practiced a lot, facing the double tight ends. We’ve been able to stop everyone on the inside this season, so it was just about containing their ends.”
Castellanos helped anchor the defensive effort for Greenwich, which applied consistent pressure on Presley and effectively pursued Stamford running backs Camrin Jean Pierre and Cameron Coard.
“Our defense did a great job, we had a lot of tackles for losses today,” Morello said. “We had to make sure we didn’t lose contain of their quarterback. The secondary did a nice job of covering their receivers.”
The Cardinals promptly drove 80 yards in five plays for a touchdown on their opening drive. Wilson scrambled for a 13-yard run, Konigsberg ran for 32 yards and senior wide receiver James Wailgum broke loose for a 27-yard run, setting the Cardinals up for on the Knights’ 1-yard line. Konigsberg ran it in from there and senior Sergot Boone converted the point-after-attempt, giving Greenwich a 7-0 lead with 9:45 left in the first quarter.
Stamford’s opening drive stalled at its own 31-yard line, with GHS junior linebacker John Insinga and junior linebacker Sebastian Parra slowing things down with tackles resulting in lost yardage.
On Stamford’s second possession, Greenwich forced a fumble on a running play that was recovered by senior defensive back Kane Ehrhart at the Black Knights’ 17-yard line. Two plays later, Vomvolakis dashed into the end zone from 10 yards out, putting the Cardinals on top, 14-0, at the 3:43 mark of the opening quarter.
The ensuing kickoff saw Stamford fumble and Greenwich senior George Hernandez pounce on the ball, giving the visitors the ball at the Stamford 12-yard line. It took just one play for Konigsberg to score, extending Greenwich’s advantage to 21-0 with 3:27 still remaining in the first quarter.
“We did a great job of capitalizing early,” Morello said. “We were opportunistic early in the game and were able to get some quick points on the board.”
The Black Knights put together a good drive, behind a pair of runs by Coard and a 15-yard completion by Presley. Yet their drive stalled when Greenwich senior defensive end sacked Presley, who lost the ball. Kiernan, who also plays on the defensive line, recovered the fumble, giving GHS the ball at the Stamford 48.
Following an 8-yard run by Konigsberg, Wilson connected with Wailgum on a 45-yard pass play for a touchdown, making it 28-0 at the 8:36 mark of the second quarter. After a solid 21-yard punt return by junior Brandon Auguste, Vomvolakis ran it into the end zone from 21 yards out, putting Stamford in a 35-0 hole with 3:59 left in the second quarter.
Parra, Castellanos, senior defensive lineman Griffin Galletta and senior defensive back Matthew Trimmer prevented Stamford from moving the ball on the ensuing possession, forcing the home team to punt.
“We knew they wouldn’t quit,” Parra said of Stamford. “Last week, they played St. Joe’s and they didn’t give up, so we knew we had to come out here and play as hard as we could and put up a fight.”
“We have a good D-Line, we have a good connection, so we know how each other plays,” Castellanos said.” I think that was a big part of how we stopped them today.”
Stamford’s best moments came late in the second quarter. Senior Brian Rose returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, putting the Black Knights on the scoreboard with 3:39 to go in the first half. The Cardinals fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Stamford recovered, taking possession at the GHS 39-yard line.
The Black Knights’ drive stalled at the Greenwich 9-yard line and junior Jack Solomita kicked a 26-yard field goal, cutting the Cards’ advantage to 35-7 with 33 seconds left in the second quarter.
“The tale of this team is momentum,” Morello said. “We did a great job of capitalizing early. But when the momentum shifts to the opponent, things unravel quickly.”
“What I stressed to the players that when the momentum shifts the other way, there’s got to be somebody in this group to take it back,” Morello continued. “Fortunately, in the second half, the defense did what they were doing the whole game and the offense was able to put them away.”
Vomvolakis added an 8-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Konigsberg scored on a 13-yard run, also in the third period, capping Greenwich’s scoring.
“We came together as a unit, we did what we had to do,” George Vomvolakis said of the squad’s offense. Stamford has good players. We knew they gave St. Joe’s a good game, we knew they beat McMahon, so we knew it was going to be a dog fight. We came out we executed and we ran the ball well.”
Wilson passed for 88 yards and senior wideout Charlie Dixon had four receptions for 40 yards in the winning effort.
The Thanksgiving Day matchup at Staples is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. The Cardinals-Wreckers winner will be declared the FCIAC champion. Should Greenwich win, it will remain the No. 1 team in Class LL, heading into the postseason tournament.
“We have this bye week to get ready,” Castellanos said. “They (Staples) like to pass the ball a lot, so we have to work on our pass rush.”
“Our mind is set on Staples,” George Vomvolakis said. “This rivalry with Staples goes back for ages.”
Greenwich last won the FCIAC title in 2018, the season it captured the CIAC Class LL tournament championship.
“We want to finish off this season as a winning team and we’re game planning next week for Staples,” Konigsberg said. “We want to be FCIAC champions and then after that state champions, so we’re taking this game seriously.”