Speed, Burger help Staples grind past Danbury
Updated 10:43 am, Saturday, September 19, 2015
The gameplan for the Staples football team in its season-opener against Danbury was very simple. Establish the run, chew clock and keep the dangerous Hatters off the field.
The Wreckers executed that perfectly behind junior quarterback Andrew Speed, who was making his first career start. Running back Ethan Burger had his first career 200-yard game, and the two drove the offense in a 21-14 win on Friday at home. Speed threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third as part of a 9-for-14, 103 yard performance.
“We got him in a huddle and tried to calm down,” Staples coach Marce Petroccio said of his new starter. “He knows he did a few things tonight in terms of (two fumbles), but it’s his first start in varsity football against a pretty good football team. We’re excited; the future looks bright.”
The opening drive set the tone for the Wreckers. The 11-play, 93-yard drive took seven minutes off the clock and ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Speed to tight end Ryan Fitton. Burger had five carries for 60 yards on the drive, getting him and the team off to a 7-0 lead.
“It felt great to get moving early, get loose and get comfortable in the game.” Burger said.
The advantage was 14-0 by halftime, but Danbury showed off its big play ability with a kickoff return for a touchdown and a 58-yard bomb to tie the game in the blink of an eye.
Burger and Speed orchestrated the winning touchdown drive in the third quarter right after Danbury had tied the game at 14-14. Burger carried seven out of the nine plays and his 12-yard run on 2nd-and-10 put the ball at the 1-yard line. Speed’s sneak the next play gave the Wreckers the lead for good.
“(Speed) can get even better,” Petroccio said. “If we can get him to have a quicker release; we’re leaving some touchdowns on the board but he did a great job.”
Staples ended the game the same way it started it. Leading 21-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Wreckers embarked on a 14-play drive from midfield that bogged down in the red zone. Though it ended in a missed field goal, the eight-minute drive burned enough clock to make a Danbury comeback difficult.
“That’s why we huddled up,” Petroccio said. “We wanted to take time off the clock and make sure we got the right play in. It was important because (the Hatters) have athletes everywhere and a ton of speed. I thought our defense played great overall.”