Staples wins 34-0, earns spot in FCIAC championship
The Staples football team was in one of the more desirable positions a team can be in last Friday.
Beat Trumbull and the Wreckers would be in the FCIAC championship game for the first time since 2007.
However, New Canaan was also in the same position and proved there are no guarantees with its stunning loss to Bridgeport Central, a team Trumbull beat 21-0 earlier this season.
Staples would not suffer the same fate as New Canaan, dismantling Trumbull 34-0 in an FCIAC game at a soggy McDougall Stadium. With the win, the Wreckers clinched a trip to the FCIAC title game to play Central next Friday night in a return trip to Trumbull at 7:30 p.m.
"It's just nice to go back," said Staples coach Marce Petroccio, whose Wreckers lost in the 2007 FCIAC title game to Greenwich.
"We haven't had a championship at Staples in a while. We haven't had that opportunity since 2007 and here we are in 2009. That's a long time for us."
As for Trumbull, a promising season, derailed by some tough losses and bad breaks, has the Eagles at 5-4.
"I told them [the players] keep your heads up, we're still proud of you and we still love you," Trumbull coach Bob Maffei said. "It's just a game and we got one game to solidify your legacy on Thanksgiving [at St. Joseph]. Let's make the best of it."
Staples defense shut down the Eagles as the Wreckers held Trumbull to minus eight yards in the first half. The Eagles also did not get a first down until the third quarter with a little over 11 minutes left. Trumbull senior quarterback Mike Romano was sacked five times. Wreckers senior captain Devin Graber and junior Chris Coyne led the way with two sacks each. Junior Pat Murray had a sack and forced a fumble that classmate Tyler Jacobs recovered and senior captain Brendan Rankowitz had an interception.
"When you play great defense you've got a shot in every game," said Petroccio, whose team is 9-0. "Our guys on defense, we just shut them down."
Staples senior kicker Santiago Cuartas kicked two field goals, bringing his season total to 10.
The senior is tied for second in the state for field goals in a season with Lance Hjelte (Ridgefield), who had 10 in 1987. Christian Garcia (Norwalk) set the record of 11 in 2007.
Wreckers' senior quarterback Keith Gelman passed for 132 yards and one touchdown on 7-for-9 passing. He also had 42 rushing yards on 10 carries. Junior running back Ryan Burke ran for 78 yards on nine carries and scored a touchdown.
"It feels awesome coming back from a 6-5 team last year," Burke said. "We go over everything in practice, and we're crisp in practice; everything's perfect."