TRUMBULL — There are few opportune weeks for an undermanned opponent to take on the St. Joseph football team. Catching the Cadets on a week they are coming off a disheartening loss is a recipe for a total mismatch.
That is what happened this afternoon as the Hogs rolled over Wilton 47-0. It could have been much worse. With two touchdowns and a safety in a four-play sequence, St. Joseph (3-1) had a 37-0 lead with nearly 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Cadets were the No. 1 team in the state polls before suffering a 22-7 loss last week to Darien.
“We had an edge on our shoulders,” said Darren Warren, who set up one score with a long kickoff return and soon after took an interception 20 yards for a score. “Everyone was ready. Right out of school we came out early. If coach said 3:30, we came out at 3. Worked our behinds off. We had to prove we are still up there and one of the better teams in the FCIAC.”
Wilton (2-2) had lost seven starters the past two weeks, and today one of their best players, Drew Phillips, who had the one positive offensive play of the day — a 72-yard run — sustained a broken collarbone.
It was not a fair fight.
Asked if it was a poor draw to face his ornery players this week, and if the ship got righted today, St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia said, “Somewhat. I thought we looked good at times. I thought we came out inspired. Those were the exact words that we used all week, to make sure we were ornery about losing out on an opportunity. We had a good solid week of practice. The kids did a great job with the scouting report. They picked up all the keys today.”
The Cadets returned the opening kickoff to their own 35 and four players later Jaden Shirden went down the left sideline for a 35-yard touchdown. Shirden would score three more times as St. Joseph took advantage of a decided size advantage and capitalized on the ground game.
Wilton had very few plays for positive yardage. The Cadets’ defensive front shut down the run and put pressure on quarterback James O’Brien the entire afternoon.
“When teams get confidence they come together more but right from the start we shut them down,” Warren said. “We definitely had an edge on our shoulder. Everyone was ready. We worked as a unit.”
A week ago the Cadets had their long-term goggles focused on trying to be the No. 1 team in the state. They had a second straight season-opening win over New Canaan, and the Blue Wave, the three-time defending Class LL champions, were supposed to be down a notch this season.
“After New Canaan we got a little cocky,” Warren said. “We did a little fooling around in practice.”
Della Vecchia did not disagree.
“When you beat someone like that you’re feeling good about yourselves and you forget there is a long way to go,” he said. “We still have a long way to go. They did show up early and did the extra things but we know if we want to play in December we have to keep getting better.”
The Cadets are positioned to reprise last season, when Darien was their lone setback in a 12-1 finish and Class S championship. The lone difference is they have moved up this year to Class M.
St. Joseph has some injuries, most notably receiver Phil Pasmeg. He will hopefully be back soon. Della Vecchia said he would just like to see a little more balance with his team.
“They do play with attitude,” Della Vecchia said. “I thought we’d be good on defense and we were a lot better than I thought we were going to be. That certainly has been a big help. And we talked to the kids on offense and that sort of let us down a little bit last week. We have to get better on offense.”