Staples entered its Thanksgiving showdown against rival Greenwich in control of its own destiny. A win would put them in the CIAC Class LL Tournament for the fifth straight season. A loss – well the Wreckers’ season would be over. Greenwich, which suffered its share of disappointing moments over the years thanks to Staples, made sure the Wreckers’ season ended. In their most complete performance of the season, Greenwich downed host Staples, 27-7. Staples, which entered the game ranked ninth in Class LL, finished the season at 8-3 and dropped to 12th in the state. With their fifth straight win, the Cardinals also finished at 8-3, capping the year at No. 11
STARS OF THE GAME: Austin Longi: No surprise here. The speedy junior running back amassed 224 yards and scored three touchdowns to power the Cardinals. He also intercepted Staples quarterback Jack Massie twice.
Tommy Rappa: The senior running back also ignited the Cardinals’ offense, gaining 80 tough yards on 18 carries.
Matt Marzulla: Greenwich gained almost all of its yards on the ground and Marzulla did his share. One of the key plays of the game was his 15-yard touchdown run up the middle, giving the Cards a 13-0 second-quarter lead.
Greenwich offensive line: The Cardinals had the ball for most of the second quarter thanks to its running game, propelled by the offensive line Andrew DelCarmine, Justin Gaccione, Vinny Murphy, Justin Montier and James Harnett deserve kudos for their performance against a bigger Staples defensive line.
“They have been creating holes for me to run through, especially during the second half of the season,” Longi said. “They have done a great job all season,” GHS coach Rich Albonizio added.
Greenwich defense: The Cardinals received big plays from numerous sources on defense. Senior defensive end Jack Wynne registered two sacks and had two tackles for a loss of yards, junior defensive end Jack Weigold registered a sack, Longi recorded two interceptions and senior linebacker Kendrick Pozo had several tackles for a loss of yards. Safety Griffin Tiedy and defensive backs Ryan Pasquali and Devin McGrath covered well in the Cardinals’ secondary.
* Staples, which has gashed teams with its running game, led by Pat Lesch, Jack Greenwald and quarterback Jack Massie, struggled to get its running game going. Lesch was held to 35 yards and Greenwald gained 32 for the Wreckers.
* Greenwich established the run and set the tone early, driving 47 yards for a touchdown on its first possession. The Cardinals scored on three of their first five possessions.
*The Cardinals took a commanding 27-7 lead in the third quarter, possessing the ball for almost nine minutes. Staples had some momentum going into halftime after cutting Greenwich’s lead to 20-7 on a Massie 22-yard touchdown pass to Will Johnson with 38 seconds to go in the first half. But the Cardinals got it back in the third quarter, moving the chains with its running game, while keeping Staples’ offense off the field.
Pressuring for a good portion of the game, Massie completed 9 of 19 passes for 100 yards. … Pozo, who normally wears No. 45 for Greenwich, switched to No. 9 Thursday to pay tribute to senior linebacker Thomas Martins. Martins was not eligible to play after being ejected from the team’s prior game against Danbury. … GHS snapped Staples four-game winning streak in the head-to-head series.