Mustangs gear up for Trinity showdown
Published 4:15 pm, Thursday, September 25, 2014
They have lived on the same street for as long as either one can remember. One at 580 Rolling Hills Drive and the other at 621. And for just about every day during that time, either Ryan Brown, football in hand, would wander across the street to Brandon Bisack's house -- or vice versa -- bang on the door and say's "Let's throw."
For at least 10 years, according to Brown, this was the routine. It started in the backyard and eventually progressed out to the street. One would play quarterback for a while and the one would run routes before they would switch. Eventually, Bisack settled in as quarterback and Brown took the receiver role.
Growing up, they played for the Pop Warner Fairfield Wildcats and now, they're starters for Warde and continuing the chemistry they started almost a decade ago.
"Since we could walk ...since we could hold a football, we've been throwing to each other," Bisack said after last week's 23-7 win over Trumbull, a win that put the Mustangs at 2-0 for the first time since 2009. "So we just have that chemistry that not a lot of quarterbacks and receivers have."
In that Trumbull win, Brown caught 10 passes from Bisack for 126 yards and a touchdown. In Warde's first two games -- the Mustangs play at Trinity Catholic Saturday at 1 p.m. -- Bisack and Brown have hooked up 16 times for 213 yards and three touchdowns.
"Brandon and I, we know what each other are thinking," Brown said. "We knew what we're going to do every play and it really helps that we've been doing this for 10 years together and it's really paid off. We're on the same page every day."
Sometimes, the connection between the two is so tight that Bisack looks solely at Brown instead of checking off and throwing to other receivers, according to Mustangs head coach Duncan Dellavolpe.
"To get Brandon to spread the ball around is sometimes difficult but he's doing a better job," Dellavolpe said. "But I can't complain because Ryan goes and makes the catches. It's really great what they have. They've been working their whole lives since they were little kids together doing this."
With the Wildcats, Brown and Bisack were on different teams but when they weren't playing against each other, they were out in the yard or on the street, throwing to each other.
"I would just walk up to (Brandon's) house, knock on the door and he's right there," Brown said.
Last season, Brown caught 35 passes from Bisack for 537 yards and five touchdowns. It's safe to assume that, barring injury, he will better those numbers this year.
"We've worked together every day, every off-season for a long time," Bisack said. "We're best friends. And all that work is paying off."
Over the first two weeks of the season, junior running back/linebacker Hakim Fleming has been a shining star for the Lancers as they continue to try and take positive strides toward become a winning program again.
In last week's 66-36 loss to Bethel, Fleming, who's 6-foot, 245 pounds, rushed for 152 yards on 18 carries and scored four touchdowns.
In Notre Dame's season opener against New Fairfield, Fleming -- despite missing much of the game with leg cramps -- rushed for 49 yards in six carries.
"The only problem with Hakim so far is that we've really only gotten one game out of him because of his cramping issues," Lancers head coach Ted Boynton said. "He's missed almost all of the second half in both games, so I can't imagine what he'd be like if we could get a full game out of him. He's special. He's a big, bruising fullback and he's our top inside linebacker too. He gives it his all and once he gets moving he's a tough target to take down."
One of the highlights against Bethel was that Notre Dame scored five touchdowns and actually led 22-20 in the second quarter after a 51-yard TD pass from Shea Olayos to Antonio Addorisio before Bethel answered back with five straight touchdowns to take command.
"Offensively, we put up 36 points," Boynton said. "We go down 13-0 and the kids don't quit, they come screaming back and with eight minutes left in the second quarter, we're leading the game. Then Fleming goes down and we have to replace two kids ... but the attitude of the kids is still sky high. They believe that they can win and we're going to build off of that."
After allowing 48 points in a humbling loss to long-time rival St. Joseph last Saturday, the Jesuits need to get back to work, especially on defense.
"That's an excellent team," Prep head coach Tom Shea said of St. Joseph, adding, "But 48 points is obscene. We've got work to do. I think we have some good players, but ... we need some leadership. It's gut-check time."
Prep's defense gave up 321 rushing yards -- St. Joseph tailback Muhasha Abdul Basir had 272 yards on 28 carries -- and 179 passing yards to the Cadets, along with those 48 points. In their season opening win against Stamford, the Jesuits gave up 40 points and five touchdown passes.
"Clearly, we did a terrible job against (St. Joseph)," Shea said. "We did a poor job tackling. (Abdul Basir) is a terrific back -- I'll give credit where credit's due -- but we did a very poor job tackling. If we stopped him where we hit him the first time, he'd probably have 120 fewer yards."
It won't get any easier for Prep (1-1) as they go against Notre Dame of West Haven tonight at 7 p.m. at Ludlowe.
The Falcons are 2-0 after a 13-10 win over Ridgefield.
Ludlowe trailed 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter but rallied for the victory as Daleek Chambers scored on a 10-yard touchdown run. Head coach Vin Camera did not return a phone call seeking comment on the game.