STAMFORD — The members of the Greenwich football team were ready to rebound from last week’s 27-21 setback to Darien not long after inadvertently spiking the ball on fourth down when they were one play and 13 yards away from a possible winning score.
“It was a tough, heartbreaking loss but you can’t dwell on that,” Cardinals quarterback James Rinello said. “We still have the regular season and the playoffs so we can’t get ourselves heartbroken over one game.”
The wait to officially wash away the bad taste was seven days, this afternoon against Trinity/Wright Tech, an opponent that always plays hard but lacks the personnel to be competitive with the state’s best.
Sure enough, Greenwich made the Crusaders play up to the competition, scoring all but one of their touchdowns in the first half and rolling to an easy 49-8 win.
“Offensively I think we did what we wanted to but we made a lot of mistakes on offense, defense and special teams,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “Stupid penalties that we didn’t need to make. We need to shore that up. Overall we wanted to turn the page and in football you can’t do it in a day or two. You have to wait a week. We wanted to put the last game out of our minds and I think we accomplished that.”
The Cardinals (6-1) to their credit were not flat. The shortcomings Morello mentioned were due to execution, not effort. The defense allowed the winless Crusaders to go on a long drive for a score and two-point conversion to get within 14-8 late in the first quarter, but Rinello hit Kobe Comizio for a 55-yard score on the next play.
Greenwich’s defense allowed just 144 yards, seven first downs and came up with four interceptions.
“It was a little slow start, especially on defense,” said Will Montesi, one of the team’s relentless defensive linemen, who had an interception and doubles as a tight end. “They are a solid team and really athletic in the backfield. We came out a little slower than we’d want to but we did a good job anyway.”
Rinello was close to perfect, hitting on 11 of his 14 passes, for 219 yards and three scores.
“We did a good job getting in and getting out,” Rinello said. “On offense I think we scored on every single drive. Of course there were a few plays we want to get back. We had penalties and mental mistakes that we need to fix for coming games. The coaches put together a good gameplan. We were comfortable with what we were running. We just tried to execute what we do.”
Rinello drove the Cardinals right down the field on the opening kickoff, resulting in Spencer Hartley’s five-yard score (and a drop-kick extra point by Evan Weigold, who doubles as a member of the school’s rugby team).
That set the tone from the outset.
“After an emotional game like that we came out with a good attitude,” Montesi said. “If we have to lose now it means we’re going to win later. We want to make sure everyone knows we’re here to win and what happened last week is not going to happen again.”
The Cardinals were coming off a loss for the first time since last year’s opening game, a much longer wait for sure. Last week’s loss was painful, especially given the schedule, which produces a paucity of big games. But it was very even, will likely cost very little besides seeding — in the court of public opinion, the Cardinals and Darien just flipped the third and fourth spots in the state poll — and came at the right time of the season.
“You build something up for weeks and then it doesn’t go your way, it’s tough just to automatically reset,” Morello said. “That’s part of coaching. And that’s my job and the other coaches’ jobs, to motivate. Through the hard times and the good times.”
The Cardinals got seven touchdowns from six different players today and gave the starters the chance to punch out early.
“The ultimate goal is get as many kids in as we can,” Montesi said. “Get the younger guys experience and the people on scout teams who help us out all week, to get them varsity minutes is really special.”
Greenwich goes back on the road on Friday night to Fairfield Ludlowe, which is at the top of the second tier of teams, then have a big home game against Ridgefield, which hopes to give the league three teams in the Class LL playoffs.
“It took a little bit of talking to the team but everybody’s good to go for the rest of the year,” Rinello said. “Go back to what we’ve been doing and get better every day. Focus on what’s ahead. We know we can play with anybody in the state when we’re doing what we’re capable of. This was a good game to regroup.”