Doug Delivers: Staples' offense features options aplenty
Staples (4-0) vs. Trumbull (2-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
It might come as a surprise to some given Staples' long run of success on the gridiron, but Marce Petroccio doesn't remember ever having the assortment of weapons on offense that he does now.
"I don't think we've ever had this many different options as far as our skill players. We've been fortunate in the fact that we've remained healthy," said Petroccio, who's in his 20th season as head coach. "We have a lot of different kids that can hurt you in a lot of different ways. I don't think I've ever had this many kids who are basically game-breakers, all on the same team at the same time."
Through four games, the Wreckers are averaging 51 points and have gouged opposing defenses both on the ground and through the air. In their latest romp, a 51-6 rout of Danbury last Friday, six different players accounted for the six offensive touchdowns.
In the first half alone, senior running backs Joey Zelkowitz and Nick Kelly combined for 221 yards on the ground.
"We've just been fortunate in the fact that we've been able to get a lot of kids a lot of carries, and it's not really taking a toll on Nick or Joe," said Petroccio, who passed some of the credit to the team's offensive line.
Zelkowitz currently leads Staples with 324 yards rushing on 27 carries (12 yards per), while Zack Speranza (23 for 196), Kelly (13 for 181) and Patrick Lesch (10 for 295) have all had a hand in the workload.
In all, the Wreckers have piled up 1,353 total yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.
"We've had a tremendous rotation of backs," Petroccio said.
Staples has done that damage against teams with a combined record of 9-11, with St. Joseph the lone contender of the bunch at 4-1. At some point, the competition will get more challenging and the state's second-ranked team will learn a lot more about themselves.
"We've been fortunate and we've been explosive. I think a little bit has to do with our opponent and a little bit has to do with what we're doing also," Petroccio said. "I think these games are interesting now in the fact that we're playing a little bit better caliber football teams and we're going to be able to find out exactly what we're made of."
On Friday, Staples will get a Trumbull team that, for the most part, has been a mixed bag. The Eagles are just 2-3 but posted one of the FCIAC's most stunning results a week ago: a 39-26 win over Darien.
Although the Wreckers have run roughshod over their opponents to date, outscoring them 204-54, Petroccio sees Trumbull as an early challenge on both sides of the ball.
"Defensively, I think they're very good up front and they're very good in the secondary. We're going to be challenged by this defense," he said.
The Eagles' defense forced Darien into making mistakes and limited the Blue Wave to just 13 points through the first three quarters. One of quarterback Henry Baldwin's interceptions was returned 95 yards for a touchdown.
Asking that defense to limit Staples might be a bit much, especially when you consider that Trumbull's two weeks removed from allowing 62 points to Greenwich.
Nonetheless, Petroccio doesn't want his team taking anyone lightly.
"This is a real football team on Friday night and the games are going to get tougher," he said. "If we don't have our focus on what we're supposed to do, these games will get difficult for us.
"Am I pleased with where we are right now? Absolutely. But I know we can get better in a lot of different areas."
An even better Staples team? That's a scary thought. Pick: Staples 50, Trumbull 14
Weston (5-0) at New Fairfield (3-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Just when it appeared as though Weston would fall from the ranks of the unbeatens, its do-everything threat, quarterback-cornerback-special teams ace Tyler Hassett delivered a lifeline.
Hassett's 4-yard run tied it in the fourth quarter and his 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Thomas McGlone in overtime lifted the Trojans to a dramatic 27-20 win over Bunnell.
Can the Trojans do it again?
They would probably like to do so without walking another tightrope, but it's hard to argue with the results right now. The Trojans are setting themselves up nicely in the South-West Conference, residing among unbeatens Masuk, Newtown and Joel Barlow, and they're quietly creeping up the Class M standings.
On Friday, Weston will face arguably its toughest test to date.
New Fairfield has been potent on offense by way of senior running back Joe Pacheco, who has put up video-game type numbers through five games. The 5-foot-11, 205 pound Pacheco has racked up a state-leading 1,230 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns on just 112 carries.
Weston has managed to ground all of the backs it has seen this year, but, on numbers alone, the Rebels' lightning rod is in his own group.
The Trojans have been asked multiple times to get the big stop and they've always answered. There's something to be said about winning close games. Pick: Weston 30, New Fairfield 28
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