Staples football holds on to knock off No. 8 Norwalk

NORWALK — Throughout its winning streak, Staples coach Adam Behrends says he has seen his team continue to be disciplined and rise to the occasion each week.

On Friday, his team rose to its biggest occasion of the season. Behind several key defensive stops, the Wreckers held on to knock off No. 8 Norwalk 20-14.

With its offense trying to find its groove, the Wreckers defense forced a pair of crucial turnover on downs as well as recovering a fumble at its own goal line.

Staples jumped out to an early 13-0 lead after its first two drives of the game thanks to touchdowns from Ryan Thompson and Tanner Connors.

Trailing by a pair of scores, Norwalk found its own scoring. With the Bears’ running game struggling early, quarterback Shawn Brown used his arm to deliver a 52-yard pass to Justin Oliver to bring Norwalk to within a touchdown.

Norwalk would get a chance to even the score on the final possession of the first half, but left points on the table after going four-and-out inside the Staples 5-yard line.

Much of the lack of offense from Norwalk was as result of the Staples defense holding running back Cam Edwards in check. Much of the weekly preparation was geared towards stopping the senior star.

“We brought more people down into the box and made sure to be sound in all of our run schemes,” said Behrends. “He can cut back on a dime, so we had to make sure we had every gap stuffed.”

Edwards found his footing early in the second half, pushing his way forward and eventually found the end zone late in the third quarter to give Norwalk its first lead of the game.

Staples immediately responded with a touchdown of its own as the Ryan Thompson/Nick Armentano connection continued to thrive. The pair connected on a 13-yard slant route to give Staples the lead with 11 minutes to play.

Edwards used his previous touchdown as forward momentum and went on a personal seven-play, 71-yard drive to put the Bears at the Staples 1-yard line.

Once again, the Staples defense emerged victorious as they took advantage of a mishandled handoff to Edwards, recovering the football and putting the game in hand.

“They played lights out against one of the best players in the state,” Behrends said. “To be able to bottle him up the way we did is a testament to the guys on defense and the coaches who put them in the right positions.”

The win against Norwalk comes at a big time for Staples, which continues to make a playoff push while extending its winning streak to four in a row.

“I would call this one of the biggest wins to me,” Thompson said. “It’s my senior year and this was a big playoff indicator for us. We’re hoping to have bigger wins.”

For Norwalk, the challenge becomes turning its attention to next week’s showdown against Darien.

“This one hurts tonight,” said Norwalk coach Pat Miller. “We have a 24-hour rule. We enjoy wins for 24 hours and we sulk after losses for 24 hours. There’s not a whole lot of time to feel sorry for ourselves.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Ryan Thompson, Staples senior QB: Passed for two touchdowns in the victory while leading a pair of crucial drives to hold off Norwalk from making a comeback.

QUOTABLE

“When the staff got here in 2019 and going through everything, you were looking for that signature win or to string together a couple of them so the kids can see all of the hard work is paying off for them.” — Staples coach Adam Behrends

STAPLES 20, NORWALK 14

STAPLES     13 0 7 0 — 20
NORWALK   0 7 7 0 — 14

  • S—Ryan Thompson 14-yard pass to Tyler Clark (Kick good)
  • S—Tanner Connors 1-yard run (Kick failed)
  • N—Shawn Brown 52-yard pass to Justin Oliver (Kick good)
  • N—Cam Edwards 8-yard run (Kick good)
  • S—Ryan Thompson 13-yard pass to Nick Armentano (Kick good)