GREENWICH — The Greenwich football team had the ball for just one-third of tonight’s game, its star quarterback completed fewer than one-third of his passes…and the Cardinals still won by 49 points.
“Like Coach Marinelli said, we adjusted and conquered,” said Greenwich linebacker Jack Feda, referring to John Marinelli, following a resounding 56-7 decision over Fairfield Ludlowe. “That’s what we do as a program. We adjust, we adapt, we come through.”
The Cardinals (6-0), the No. 2 in the state, did not need to have possession long to get positive results and while Gavin Muir completed just five passes, three were for touchdowns.
“They’re not going to lose a game during the regular season,” Ludlowe coach Mitch Ross said. “They’re very, very good. They are tough to match up against. They can beat you running, they can beat you passing, they can beat you on defense, they can beat you on special teams. They’re tough kids, they’re coached well and they’re a handful for even the top teams in the state.”
Ross, who has been doing great things with the Falcons in his second season, pretty much pointed out why the Cardinals are going to be a tough out. They excel in every aspect of the game. One element being off is not going to be an impediment.
Feda returned one of his two interceptions for a score. A long punt return by Stephen Bennett — who was on the receiving end of Muir’s touchdown passes — set up another one. And with Tysen Comizio, the Cardinals’ outstanding running back, sidelined with a broken hand, Hunter Clark ran for 92 yards on just three carries and scored twice, while Spencer Hartley and Teddy Bacon also had touchdowns.
“Ludlowe’s a great team,” Feda said. “They’ve gotten a lot better since last year and the year before that. We came through win the win tonight.”
This was another night where the points scored will probably again overshadow the points denied, and shouldn’t. The defense bent but didn’t break on the Falcons’ long opening drive. It gave up a 57-yard scoring pass two plays after taking a lead. They pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
The Cardinals have a very tangible advantage that is on display only Sundays through Thursdays.
“In practice we always say our best competition is against us,” Feda said.
And by all accounts, the defense, led by coordinator Bryan Hocter, usually gets the best of things.
“They kick our butts in practice,” Marinelli said with a smile. “We do two-minutes every single day so however many practices we have had, 30, 40, we’ve scored like five times. Our defense does great things, they get after the quarterback, coach Hocter is dialing up some stuff and coverage-wise we’re doing some stuff with the senior group that’s pretty impressive.”
Feda flashed a devilish grin when asked if there was some internal competition.
“Yeah we always say Gavin is like the golden boy, though he deserves it,” Feda said. “We have competitions all the time for bragging rights. It is mostly the defense. They had to buy us sandwiches once.”
While the edge in personnel is obvious, Feda was asked if there was a common trait among the players that served the collective.
“It’s just the motors that we have,” Feda said. “We’re just more athletic than other teams. We just adapt as a defense. Coach Hocter just schemes teams up very well. He’s the best defensive coordinator in the state in my mind.”
While no one expected the Falcons to win the game, no one thought they would be coming into it with a 5-1 record either. The killjoys outside of Fairfield, where the revival can be seen on the school’s campus and in the stands on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons, will note Ludlowe’s strength of schedule.
But it was apparent to everyone tonight that Ludlowe is well-coached, has talent and just needs more time to get to where Ross expects to lead them.
“We finally got settled on defense but they’re a good team,” Marinelli said. “Offensively they are very potent. I don’t know about score-wise but they are completing balls, they are moving chains. What a difference a year makes. You see sparks and flashes of what their offense can do if they get some personnel to be able to run it and more time to learn the system. Two years ago 56-7 is the halftime score. He’s doing great things over there.”
Ludlowe quarterback Colin Wilson completed 27 passes and five different players each had at least four receptions.
Ross, who was missing six starters, is realistic about the situation.
“We had a good gameplan to open and we played really well,” Ross said. “If we put our first drive in we could have been up 14-7. Not that it would have changed the outcome of the game. They battled hard, we were very thin today. They played a very good first quarter and a half. After that we wore out. We’ve come a long, long way.”
Meanwhile, the Cardinals will keep rolling toward the postseason. Next up is Ridgefield. While the Tigers are rebuilding, there were constant reminders from Marinelli and his players that Tiger Hollow is the toughest home field in the league.
And the Cardinals will keep the focus on themselves. Marinelli was asked about the strategy with a relatively easy second-half schedule.
“That’s more of a media thing,” he said. “We look at games and we try not to look at other teams’ records. We just try to do what we do and get out of there with the win.”