By Dave Ruden
STAMFORD — Cameron Webb spoke first, addressing his Stamford High School teammates on Friday afternoon moments after the new season started with a 28-0 loss to Fairfield Prep.
Webb wasn’t happy. The Black Knights trailed just 7-0 late in the first half on Thursday when play was suspended due to lightning. The 24-hour delay did not serve the team well.
“We’e got to let them know yesterday we were here, we were determined,” said Webb, the Black Knights’ star running back and vocal leader. “We were dedicated to play. Then today nobody was ready.”
Webb soon turned the stage over to Jamar Greene, whose debut as Stamford’s coach started off with promise and quickly disintegrated into the team’s ninth straight loss following last year’s 2-0 start.
“I think we lost our momentum, our enthusiasm,” Greene said. “I think the momentum was on our side before the lightning hit. Today we just kind of came out flat. It also gave them a day to prepare better for us.”
Day 3 of the FCIAC-SCC Challenge was a bad matchup for Stamford, which was without Jack Rakoczy and Roger LaBella, its two best offensive linemen. Trying to move the Jesuits’ defensive line is like using a broom on an SUV.
“Their strengths are our weaknesses,” Greene said. “We have some athletes. If we can correct some of the things on the offensive line we can have a good season.”
Friday marked Greene’s coming-out party as Stamford’s coach. He has been a frontman as someone hired to clean up both the program’s deficiencies in the classroom as well as its image.
The tactical part of his job has received little attention.
“He’s a great offensive coordinator like he was at Westhill,” said Webb, referring to the Black Knights’ crosstown rival that was Greene’s previous coaching stop. “Now he’s the head coach. He knows what he’s doing.”
It was hard to get a read on the Black Knights’ prospects off of one game. Their biggest asset was nullified. and may stay that way if the offensive line does not mature quickly.
“We have a lot of speed and we’re going to beat teams with our speed,” Webb said. “We’re a tough team. We need to stay tough.”
Greene said all the right words to his players before they departed Boyle Stadium.
“They have to understand when you’re down, it doesn’t mean you’re beaten,” Greene said. “They have to learn how to fight through adversity and battle back.”
With Webb, quarterback Jalen Brown and receiver Jake Bivona, just to name three, the Black Knights have the offensive weapons to be an explosive team. What will be telling is how the team responds to Friday’s loss, especially with an interesting matchup looming next week at home against Warren Harding, which won its first game under new coach Jack Cochran.
The Black Knights took a 2-0 mark up to Ridgefield last season in what was billed as their biggest regular season game in years. They left with a bad loss that was the start of the season spiraling out of control.
“I think we can be a very good team,” Greene said. “We hung with them for two and a half quarters. Even when we were down 14-0, I still felt that we had an opportunity.”
Stamford’s opener was much like the weather, the lightning delay, a rain storm late in the third quarter Friday followed by a rainbow that lit the sky as day turned to night.
There is no reason to doubt that, for the Stamford football program, better days are indeed ahead.