Thoughts on Greenwich’s loss to Xavier

Though the Greenwich High School football team’s season ended with a disappointing 55-14 loss to Xavier in the quarterfinal round of the CIAC Class LL playoffs Wednesday night, the Cardinals took another step toward establishing themselves as one of the premier teams in the state.

The Cardinals’ 8-1 regular season earned them a berth in the Class LL tournament for the first time since Jonathan Meyers and Jimmy Dunster propelled the team past Shelton, 28-14, for the state title in 2007. Greenwich also played for the FCIAC title for the second straight season, falling to arch rival Staples in the title game on Thanksgiving, 48-30. A week after falling to Staples in the FCIAC finals, the Cards entered Wednesday’s game vs. Xavier with hopes of making a strong run in their first appearance in the LL tourney since 2007.

But Xavier showed why it’s the two-time defending Class LL champions, running the ball effectively behind its big offensive line, while scoring game-changing touchdowns and picking up key first downs with its passing game. Senior Boston College-bound quarterback Tim Boyle completed 14-of-20 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, all of which went to senior wide receiver Kristopher Luster.

“He’s awesome, he has a great arm and had good protection,” GHS coach Rich Albonizio said. “We tried every coverage we could. He’s going to Boston College for a reason.”

Facing deficits of 13-6 and 20-14 in the second quarter, GHS hung around for a while, but Boyle and running backs DeAngelo Berry (93 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Andrew Meoli (92 yards, 2 touchdowns) were too much to handle on this night.

It didn’t help Greenwich that senior starting quarterback Liam O’Neil was sidelined for the big game with a knee injury he sustained during the team’s gave vs. Staples. The Cardinals’ passing game wasn’t effective against the Falcons’ physical defense, but kudos to Austin Longi, Alex McMurray and Jose Melo for getting the offense moving.

Melo, who started the game at quarterback, completed 11-of-19 passes for 128 yards, Longi had 80 yards on 10 carries, including a dazzling 67-yard touchdown run off a quarterback draw on the first play of the second quarter, and McMurray gained 43 yards.

Greenwich says goodbye to more than 30 seniors, including captains, Taylor Olmstead, McMurray, O’Neil, Joe Kelly and Alex McGee, a group Albonizio described as “dedicated and hard working.”

A season wrapup I’m writing on the team will appear in Sunday’s Greenwich Time and will also be posted online at some point Saturday night. Thanks for reading all season.

Dave Fierro