FAIRFIELD — For eight days the members of the Staples football team have opened their newspapers, clicked on websites and watched online videos, seeing what amounted to a media parade for Stamford High School.
The Wreckers quietly seethed. There was nothing personal, except it was their 37-34 loss to the Black Knights that was the catalyst for the acclaim.
Staples, which had allowed just a last-second field goal on opening night in the first three weeks, saw their defense lit up.
And in the life of a high school football player coming off of a disheartening loss, eight days seems like eight weeks.
“It was tough hearing about them because they beat us but we had to get over the loss,” said Jackson Ward, an offensive and defensive lineman for the Wreckers. “You keep hearing about them in the news and you have to block it out. You have to keep moving on.”
Ward was speaking moments after the Wreckers had, indeed, moved on, playing well in a dominant 34-7 win at Fairfield Ludlowe Friday night. A major personnel move paid off and Staples’ defense made last week’s outcome seem more like an aberration.
“Stamford did a great job against us and it was a wakeup call,” Petroccio said. “We saw the mistakes we made. We just felt like we gave the game away. We had the lead and missed interceptions, had penalties, turnovers, which is not the way you are going to beat a team like that. You wish you could have it back but you don’t.”
Anyone who ever doubted coaches watch a lot of game film saw the Falcons (3-2) attempt long passes on the first two plays against Staples. And while they did hit on a couple later on, they were able to sustain just one drive, midway through the second quarter, answering a Staples touchdown to draw within 14-7.
Staples (3-2) would score 24 seconds before the half to go back up by 14 points.
That came on an 8-yard touchdown pass to Evan Gilland from Trevor Shearer, who threw for one more and ran for another in his new role as the Wreckers’ starting quarterback.
Petroccio said after the 3-0 loss to Xavier that his team needed more speed out on the field. Speed is one of Teddy Coogan’s many assets, so Petroccio moved his quarterback back to receiver and inserted Shearer into the lineup.
“Teddy’s an excellent receiver and we felt it would improve our team,” Petroccio said. “And Teddy’s such a great kid. He wants to win.”
Shearer was in the weight room lifting on Sunday when he was summoned into Petroccio’s office.
“I was hoping,” Shearer said of the news he would hear. “I wasn’t positive but I was hoping.”
After a partially blocked punt gave Staples the ball on the Falcons’ 28, Shearer concluded the first drive with an 8-yard keeper on fourth-and-one.
On the third play of the second quarter, Shearer hit Jake Melnick in stride on a slant pattern from 28 yards out to make the score 14-0.
“I made a few mistakes but we got the W,” Shearer said in a concise evaluation of his performance.
Staples’ special teams were sensational. Paul Tricarico made two field goals and put kickoffs into the end zone. Ryan Fitton pinned the Falcons with a pair of long punts.
The Wreckers had the occasional breakdown in the secondary but for the most part the defense was unyielding. During one six-play sequence in the final quarter, Ludlowe quarterback Bryan Pacewicz was sacked four times.
“We kind of got down on ourselves a bit last week,” said Ward, who had one of the sacks. It was good to get back on the field. The defense played really well tonight. We’re happy with the win.”