FCIAC Football Rewind: Trinity’s goal is December football

Celebrations, like this one between quarterback Danny O'Leary (left) and running back Sean Brown, have become common at Trinity Catholic this fall.

If Trinity Catholic defeats Stamford on Saturday afternoon, it will maintain its position as the overall points leader in the conference standings.

That would make the Crusaders the surprise story of the FCIAC this fall sports season.

To everyone but themselves, that is.

“That’s the goal,” Trinity coach Pete Stokes said of reaching the championship game. “Even with the season ending when it does. We preach this and we have a good group of kids. We are riding a wave, and this is a good football team.”

There is a long way to go, and the Crusaders have to get past, despite two straight losses, a talented Stamford team at home. Then comes a two-game stretch against Darien and St. Joseph in weeks 8 and 9.

The overtime win over New Canaan in the second game of the season may have turned some eyes at the time, but it gave the Crusaders the confidence boost that has made them believe, rather than hope, they will win games.

There are a number of reasons for the Crusaders’ 4-0 start. There is a lot of talent, headlined by a strong 1-2 punch of Shaquan Howsie and Sean Brown at running back. The defense has been aggressive, their is strong senior leadership and, perhaps most importantly, the team, without an abundance of depth, has remained healthy.

But Stokes also pointed to another commodity: defensive coordinator Donny Panapada, who returned to his alma mater last year after a long stint as an assistant coach to Rich Albonizio at Greenwich.

“Donny’s heart is green and gold,” Stokes said. “He has a lot of knowledge. What he has really done is come over and influenced us about December football.”

Stokes was referring to playing in the playoffs, which the Crusaders last did in 1993, when they beat Putnam for the Class S state title.

A win over Stamford will put Trinity one step closer toward returning to December football.

Game of the Week

Stamford (2-2) at Trinity Catholic (4-0), Saturday, 1 p.m. This is the only game this week between league teams with .500 or better records. If the season ended today, the Crusaders would be in the FCIAC championship game. This is a good test for Trinity against a talented but suddenly mistake-prone Stamford team.

The Fab 5

1. STAPLES (3-0): Danbury is hoping the Wreckers will be sluggish rather than well-rested coming off a bye. In the end, it won’t matter.

2. GREENWICH (3-0): The Cardinals took a mid-game nap before applying the jet burners against Trumbull.

3. RIDGEFIELD (3-1): Rites of fall: pumpkins, falling leaves and Ridgefield wins over Wilton.

4. ST. JOSEPH (3-1): Even with a slow start, the Cadets were extremely impressive against Stamford.

5. DARIEN (3-1): The Blue Wave rebounded nicely from their loss to St. Joseph.