WESTPORT — The Staples football team ensured 2015 wouldn’t start in an early hole as they edged Danbury 21-14 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Staples had dropped its previous two openers, but relied on its defense and ground game to start this season on a positive note.

“The bottom line is that we’re 1-0 for the first time in two years and I’ll take that,” Staples coach Marce Petroccio said. “There’s a huge relief.”

Junior running back Ethan Burger carried most of the offense for the Wreckers, rushing for a career-high 204 yards on 29 carries.

“He had a great night, he was running hard,” Petroccio said. “He was getting stronger by the minute; overall the offensive line did a tremendous line and he’s a good runner.”

It was a battle between quarterbacks making their first varsity start as juniors Marvin Payton (Danbury) and Andrew Speed (Staples) faced off. Speed threw for a pair of touchdowns while Payton threw a 58-yard touchdown to Marvin Payton in the third quarter that tied the game at 14-14.

“(Payton) did pretty well, he made some very good reads,” said Danbury coach Alex Trasacco, who played with Petroccio at Southern Connecticut and was coaching his first game with the Hatters. “It’s like anything else; when you’re new to it, everything goes a million miles per hour. He’s one of the best athletes on the field.”

The Hatters trailed 14-0 coming out of halftime, but Tyren McCrea took the third quarter kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Crandell’s catch made it a new game, but the Wreckers embarked on a five-minute drive that was capped by Speed’s 1-yard run with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.

Danbury went three-and-out to start the fourth quarter, and Staples burned most of the clock to ice the game. The Wreckers had a 14-play drive that ended with a missed field goal, but took seven minutes off the clock.

A key play in the drive came on a 4th-and-5, when Burger took the handoff and appeared to be stopped short of the line. His legs kept driving, though, and the Wreckers got a crucial first down.

“I knew that was an important play and I just had to keep my legs moving no matter how many guys were on me. I knew I had to get that first down; I know I had to give it a little extra juice to get there.”

The Hatters had a final chance with three minutes to play, but a failed fourth down conversion near midfield gave the Wreckers the win.

rlacey@bcnnew.com

Staples 21, Danbury 14

DANBURY 0 0 14 0—14

STAPLES 7 7 7 0—21

S—Ryan Fitton 8 pass Andrew Speed (Paul Tricarico kick)

S—Colin Hoy 16 pass Speed (Tricarico kick)

D—Tyren McCrea 90 kick return (Adryan Goncalves Marques kick)

D—Massiah Crandell 58 pass Marvin Payton (Marques kick)

S—Speed 1 run (Tricarico kick)

Records: Danbury 0-1, Staples 1-0.