Staples football shuts out Wilton
With his team leading 7-0 coming out of the halftime break, Staples football coach Marce Petroccio called upon his defense to preserve the narrow lead and continue to build upon the unit's encouraging start to the season.
The defense not only answered the call, but provided a touchdown five plays into the third quarter that doubled the team's lead and set the tone for another dominating performance.
Nick Esposito's 29-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the highlight of a defensive effort that included holding opposition Wilton to just 110 total yards in a 24-0 win on Friday night at Fujitani Field. Both teams moved to 1-1 with the result.
Facing a 3rd-and-10, Wilton quarterback R.J. Romeo dropped back to pass and Staples defensive lineman Jackson Hoeberman forced a fumble. Seizing the opportunity, Esposito was the closest to the ball and completed the scoop and score.
"I saw (Hoeberman) punch the ball out and I just knew that I was the closest one (to the ball)," Esposito said. "So I just picked it up, put my head down and scored."
The Wreckers backed up last week's defensive performance in a 3-0 loss to Xavier with another against the Warriors.
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"The defense again; two games, three points, you can't ask for anything more than that," Petroccio said. "(Esposito) had a tremendous game. Defensively I thought we were lights out. We made a commitment to that and it's working out for us."
Staples scored on a pair of long touchdown drives Friday. Reserve quarterback Trevor Shearer, filling in for injured starter Teddy Coogan, opened the scoring late in the first quarter with a 2-yard run on 3rd-and-goal. The play capped a 15-play, 92 yard drive that burned seven minutes off the clock.
"I thought Trevor did a tremendous job," Petroccio said. "He deserves an opportunity to play and he did a great job. He's got some toughness; he's smart. We got him throwing a little bit."
The Wreckers ran for more than 200 yards on the ground. Connor Adrian had 16 carries for 91 yards, but exited at halftime with a shoulder injury. In stepped Ethan Burger, who carried 10 times for 88 yards -- including a 12-yard score that made the game 21-0 early in the fourth quarter and finished off a 13-play, 80 yard drive -- in the second half.
"(Burger) did a tremendous job for us," Petroccio said. "He turns plays that are not going to get much and he makes a lot out of those."
The only traction Wilton got on offense came in the first quarter following the Wreckers touchdown. Wilton drove to the Staples 30, but the Wreckers defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs.
"As long as we were within one score I thought that the game was still there," Wilton coach Bruce Cunningham said. "When we had to start chasing two scores against that defense; that's when it gets tough."
Cunningham believed Wilton, coming off a 20-6 win over Guilford last week, showed improvement in Week 2.
"We did better today than we did last week because we played a team like that," Cunningham said. "It was really good; one of the real good defensive teams in this league."
Staples kicker Paul Tricarico booted a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
"He did a great job, I've been dying to get a chance to get him in," Petroccio said. "He's great kid, he's got a strong leg."