After two weeks off, there will be no easing back into the schedule for two of the FCIAC’s most heralded programs.
Greenwich hosts Trumbull on Saturday afternoon. By early evening, both teams will have reached the midseason mark and one will be in a more enhanced position in the race for a state playoff berth.
Both schools are 3-1, have a diversity of weapons and are constructed to score points in an explosive manner. Perhaps the biggest difference right now is how the two coaches — Greenwich’s John Marinelli and Trumbull’s Bob Maffei — view the CIAC-mandated bye last weekend.
“We’re still trying to find our identity as a team. The bye week so early doesn’t help you,” Marinelli said. “I don’t like it that early. I think in the first four or five weeks of the season you find your identity as a football team. I don’t really like bye weeks in general, I just like to play games. I don’t think there is any medical evidence whatsoever to support a bye week in the middle of the season or anywhere in the season really, especially with no contact.”
The CIAC has introduced bye weeks as part of a series of safety measures to prevent injuries, particularly concussions.
Maffei had a more favorable posture on having no game to prepare for last week.
“The kids know the plays. It’s kind of nice actually,” Maffei said. “You rest a little bit, you lick up your wounds. You kind of rest your mind. I think it’s a good thing. It gives us extra time to get ready for them.”
The additional preparation should prove helpful against the Cardinals, whose lone loss was a 42-35 battle with Darien, the state’s top-ranked team. It was consistent with what has been a trend for Greenwich so far this season: playing to the level of the opponent. It needed a late score against Westhill and struggled deep into the second quarter with Bridgeport Central, but pushed the Blue Wave to the limit and was dominant against Trinity Catholic.
“Our identity in the first four games if you look at it is we played up to competition and we played down to competition,” Marinelli said. “Fortunately for us, I’ll say luckily, it hasn’t bitten us in the butt yet in terms of playing down to competition. Westhill, all the credit to them, they played a very good game. Central early on, their quarterback is phenomenal. It was almost like we didn’t show up from a defensive standpoint. Offensively we have been pretty good outside of the first game, we’ve been playing up all year long. Defensively we have to focus in for four quarters and from an offensive standpoint we have to keep doing what we have been.”
Connor Langan has made strides at quarterback for the Cardinals from a year ago. All-purpose back Kevin Iobbi has 1,002 total yards and is a threat anytime he touches the ball. Matt Morganti and Anthony Ferraro have been solid at receiver.
“They’re well coached, they run the same offense we run, they are going to score a lot of points,” Maffei said. “It is not what you run it is what kind of players you have. They’ve got good players. It is who you get the ball to.”
Greenwich has scored 147 points, one fewer than Trumbull, which has rolled since giving up 29 straight points at the end of a season-opening 46-33 loss to Ridgefield.
“We gave one away I guess,” Maffei said. “I don’t even remember week one, that’s a long time ago. We’ve moved on from that.”
The combination of Eagles quarterback Johnny McElroy throwing to Danny Hoffmann has been among the most dangerous in the league, while swingback Markeese Woods helps diversify the attack.
“They’re quarterback is unbelievable,” Marinelli said. “I think he’s the best quarterback in the league so far. I’m not just saying that because we’re playing them. He is a dual threat, great athlete, high-quality kid. He’s a lot of fun to watch. Hopefully he’s not too much fun on Saturday to watch. They have probably the three most dangerous kids on offense in the league.”
It is too early for must-win games, but the implications on the outcome are considerable. The winner will remain in a much more advantageous position for a postseason berth, while the loser will have almost no margin for error. Both teams still have to play New Canaan — the Cardinals face them next week. Greenwich ends the season against Ridgefield and Staples, which are both in the Class LL chase.
“We’re going into week five and I haven’t even looked at the playoff standings,” said Marinelli, who is in his second season at Greenwich after serving as the offensive coordinator for his father, Lou, in New Canaan. “Maybe that’s because I’ve been in New Canaan for so long where I never had to look at the playoff standings until week eight or nine. Two losses doesn’t put us out of it. I don’t put a lot of stock into the state playoffs right now. We’re not putting any added pressure on this game compared to any others.”