St. Joseph Overcomes Its Form Of Adversity To Roll Past Wilton

Jaden Shirden celebrates one of his four touchdowns. (Tina Beyer)

WILTON — St. Joseph football coach Joe Della Vecchia said he was impressed by the way his team handled adversity during tonight’s game against Wilton.

For Della Vecchia, adversity was the Cadets allowing two touchdowns less than five minutes apart with a 28-0 lead.

The answer: tacking on another four scores and rolling to a 56-14 victory.

“I don’t know about perfect but I thought we played really well,” Della Vecchia said. “We did a lot of good things. A couple of passes they completed were things we thought we straightened out in practice and we have to fix that stuff again, but it’s good that it happened because some adversity finally hit us and we had to see how we responded. We responded pretty good. Even at halftime they were still fired up because they weren’t happy.”

Given the way the Cadets (3-0) have dominated the state since a week three loss to Darien last season, perhaps a two-touchdown lead in the second quarter is indeed a test.

St. Joseph’s Jermaine Williams takes down the Warriors’ Drew Phillips. (Tina Beyer)

Until early in the second quarter, the Cadets had been turning teams into roadkill this month, outscoring them by a 119-7 margin. That included tonight’s 28-0 lead, four scores on their first 17 plays.

“We are working, executing in practice, it is paying off in a game and we just have to keep it going,” said running back Jaden Shirden, who scored four times.

The only touchdown the Cadets had yielded came on a defensive breakdown that led to a long pass play last week against Notre Dame-West Haven.

Tonight the Warriors (2-1) rebounded, sparked by Jimmy O’Brien’s 49-yard pass to Wooder Thoby. That set up a touchdown pass to Kyle Hyzy, who followed with an interception that set up O’Brien’s 1-yard score with 7:09 left in the half.

“We take any score personally here,” Cadets defensive lineman Cayden Porter said. “We don’t think any team should be able to get past a first down on us. Come back at them twice as hard.”


Wilton quarterback Jimmy O’Brien is swarmed by the defense after a bad snap. (Tina Beyer)

The defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way. St. Joseph quarterback Jack Wallace drove the team for a score on a 4-yard pass to Shirden, then found Owen DaSilva on a 20-yard play in the final minute of the half for a 42-14 lead.

“A little adversity, we played hard, fought through it and it’s a good thing going forward,” Della Vecchia said.

Wallace, who continues to impress in his first season making the move from cornerback to quarterback, threw four touchdown passes.

The Warriors are going to be fine against most of the league but they lack the resources to play with the best teams in the state.

Still, Wilton coach EJ DiNunzio was not happy.

The Cadets’ Jaden Shirden tries to get past Wilton’s Jack DiRocco. (Tina Beyer)

“We shoot ourselves in the foot, have bad field position, we can’t cover anybody in the secondary, can’t tackle,” DiNunzio said. “We just played a very poor game and you’re not going to beat St. Joe’s unless you play a great game. Another lesson you learn.”

Next up for the Cadets is New Canaan in one of the most anticipated games of the regular season. St. Joseph has won the past two meetings and the Rams already have a loss. Both schools are in Class L.

“It’s obviously a big game,” Della Vecchia said. “I’m sure they circled this on their calendar for a while and we will be ready to go. It is going to be a good game. There’s a lot on the line for both squads.”