Staples football in playoff mode vs. Greenwich
The Staples and Greenwich football teams have competed against one another for the FCIAC Championship in the last two seasons. While that will not be the case in 2013, a whole lot remains at stake in the regular season finale for both squads.
Staples faces a virtual playoff game when it meets Greenwich for the ninth consecutive year on Thanksgiving at 10 a.m. A win for the Wreckers (8-2) will, barring extraordinary circumstances, place them in the Class LL playoffs for the fifth straight season.
That win won't come easy against a Greenwich (7-3) team that has reeled off four straight blowout wins. The two teams have been at or near the top of the FCIAC ladder since the rivalry's inception in 2005.
"(The rivalry is) great," Wreckers coach Marce Petroccio said. "(Greenwich) is such a class act and a great program that for us, every year on Thanksgiving we know we have a big game. It's going to be intense and hard-hitting no matter what is at stake. There is no FCIAC title game at stake but they are going to try to wreck our season."
The key to the Wreckers option attack, as it has for the past three-plus seasons, lies in the hands of quarterback Jack Massie. The senior has rushed for 602 yards and eight touchdowns while passing for 1345 yards and 14 scores.
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"They have a quarterback who has started for them for four years and in my opinion, he's the key to their whole offense," Greenwich coach Rich Albonizio said. "For us to be successful against them we have to find a way to shut him down. They are an option team and he has been running the option for four years, so he has a lot of experience. Their running backs are always good and they play a system that is tough to defend. Every year they get better and better at it."
"We have to do what we've been doing and we'll have to figure out what (Greenwich) is doing defensively," Petroccio said. "If we can get them to punt a couple times, we will be able to figure out what their strategy is for this game. They throw a multitude of fronts at you, a lot of different defenses. It's going to be a challenge."
If numbers are any indication, a shootout could be on hand at Staples Stadium. The Wreckers have averaged 38 points per-game and have scored 40 in seven of last eight games. The Cardinals average 39.8 points per-game.
"Hopefully we can play a great defensive game," Albonizio said. "We've had some good defensive moments this year, but we haven't put together four good quarters enough. You really have to be disciplined defensively against a team like Staples."
The Cardinals' main threat is junior running back Austin Longi. Longi has 1,358 yards rushing, 342 yards receiving and 30 total touchdowns including returns. He scored seven touchdowns in Greenwich's 61-20 win over Danbury Nov. 15.
"It's going to take 11 hats to the ball (to stop him)," Petroccio said. "And it's going to have to be every down, every play. He's got 30 touchdowns on the year and he can go at any point. He's a dangerous running back and if we don't play great defense it could be a long game for us."
With plenty to play for with the postseason slated to start Tuesday -- and the possibility of Thursday being the final game for 13 seniors -- the Wreckers are ready to hit the field on Turkey Day.
"At this point the kids just want to play," Petroccio said. "They're excited; they've practiced hard all week. It's a long layover (since a 48-13 win over Norwalk Nov. 15). They're good to go."