The Staples High football team clearly didn't need much time to get back in sync on Saturday.
Playing for the first time in 14 days because of Hurricane Sandy, Staples looked like its old explosive self and quickly calmed any concerns about the long layoff. The Wreckers scored seven first-half touchdowns and coasted to a 49-20 rout of Fairfield Warde at Tetreau-Davis Field, pushing their record to 7-0.
Jump-started by running back Joey Zelkowitz's 65-yard touchdown run less than two minutes in, the Wreckers scored on five of their 18 plays from scrimmage in the first half.
"We hoped that we would come out and play this well. But there was a concern," Staples head coach Marce Petroccio said. "That was a long layoff. Fourteen days without playing a game is a long time. You had the stress of kids who don't have electricity and live in (other) people's houses. ... I'm proud of the way the kids came out here."
Staples, which came in averaging 54 points a game, piled up close to 350 yards of offense in the first half and led 49-0 at the break.
"I've gotten to see them a couple times. I think legitimately, they might be the best team I've seen since I've been in the league for 14 years," Warde head coach Duncan DellaVolpe said. "They're big, quick, physical. They play the right way and are coached well. You can't ask for anything else."
Zelkowitz carried the ball just three times for 71 yards and two touchdowns, and his backfield mate, Patrick Lesch, also found the end zone twice. Lesch took a screen pass from Jack Massie 71 yards for a score with 2:31 to go in the first quarter, and he also scored on a 65-yard run on the team's final play before halftime.
The Wreckers' offense struck both ways, as Massie completed 6-of-7 attempts for 148 yards in the first half.
"We came out hard and didn't really look rusty at all," Zelkowitz said.
On defense, Staples forced four turnovers, including two that went for scores. Linebacker Lance Lonergan intercepted Warde's Max Garrett and returned it 43 yards to make it 21-0 with 4:49 left in the first quarter. Two drives later, defensive end Jared Levi had a 50-yard pick-six of Garrett.
With reserves on both sides playing for much of the second half, Warde (1-7) finally cracked the scoreboard on running back Dawud Mohamed's 12-yard run with six minutes left in the third quarter.
"Turnovers are never good. But to give a team like that 12 points, that's hard to overcome," DellaVolpe said. "It really put us in a tough spot."
Warde sophomore Brandon Bisack threw two touchdown passes, along with an interception, in relief of Garrett in the second half. Bisack connected with Kerven Jacques on a 27-yard scoring play and also hit Daniel Skelton for a 5-yard touchdown on the game's final play.
Staples, which has scored at least 49 points in all seven games, will make a quick turnaround and host Westhill (5-3) on Thursday at 5 p.m. With a win over the Vikings and a Greenwich win over Danbury on Thursday, the Wreckers and Cardinals will be assured of playing for the FCIAC title on Thanksgiving.
"I thought the kids played hard," Petroccio said. "I think the offense was what the offense has been. Forty-nine points in a half, we'll take that any day of the week. I'm excited that we came out and played this well because we've got a short work week. This is a real game on Thursday for us. This is not going to be any joke here."
The Mustangs have now lost four straight since their lone win (29-28 over Bassick on Oct. 5) and have surrendered at least 28 points in every game.
"(The Wreckers) have too many options right now," DellaVolpe said. "That's the real problem. You can contain them, which we did at times. But then we gave up the big plays. When you're 50-50 against that kind of team, you're in trouble."
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FAIRFIELD WARDE 20
STAPLES 35 14 0 0--49
WARDE 0 0 7 13--20
S--Joey Zelkowitz 65 run (Mike Gifford kick)
S--Zelkowitz 6 run (Gifford kick)
S--Lance Lonergan 43 interception return (Gifford kick)
S--Patrick Lesch 71 pass from Jack Massie (Gifford kick)
S--Jared Levi 50 interception return (Gifford kick)
S--Zach Speranza 1 run (Gifford kick)
S--Patrick Lesch 65 run (Gifford kick)
W--Dawud Mohamed 12 run (Conor McGuinness kick)
W--Kerven Jacques 27 pass from Brandon Bisack (Kick failed)
W--Daniel Skelton 5 pass from Bisack (McGuinness kick)
Records: Staples 7-0; Warde 1-7.