Greenwich hoping to get back on track vs. Fairfield Warde
By David Fierro
Battling back from a 13-point halftime deficit, the Greenwich High School football team was in position to record a huge road win against FCIAC rival Trumbull last week — a victory that would have kept the Cardinals in postseason contention.
Yet the Cardinals, who stormed back to take a seven-point fourth quarter lead, saw it slip away as Trumbull scored two unanswered touchdowns in a 50-44 win. The heartbreaking loss dropped Greenwich’s record to 3-3, setting up a scenario where it needs to win its final five games and receive a whole lot of help to qualify for the state playoffs.
But the Cardinals aren’t thinking postseason right now. They just want to improve, starting with Saturday’s Homecoming Day matchup with unfamiliar foe Fairfield Warde.
“Every game is a battle for us,” Greenwich coach Rich Albonizio said. “We are just too inconsistent right now. For us, it’s not talent — it’s about the mental aspect of the game.”
Former Cleveland Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano will address the Cardinals in the locker room prior to their Homecoming game against Warde. Rutigliano has Greenwich ties, as he served as head coach of the Cardinals until 1962.
“Sam is a great motivator and we are looking forward to having him speak to the team,” Albonizio said. “Homecoming is always a good motivator for our team and there will be a special group of people there as well. Greenwich’s undefeated 1963 team will also be honored, so it should be a special day.”
In Warde (2-4), Greenwich is facing an improved team fresh off a 35-21 win against Wilton. Coached by Duncan DellaVolpe, the Mustangs also beat Trinity Catholic and gave Trumbull all it could handle in a 28-21 loss.
“They are a very good team, they’re certainly not a typicial 2-4 team,” Albonizio said. “I think they should have beaten Trumbull. They did a great job against them and put a lot of pressure on their quarterback, sometimes with three down linemen. We were rushing six against Trumbull and couldn’t put much pressure on him.”
“They have big offensive linemen and their quarterback throws the ball well, which is our nemesis.”
The Cards’ defense struggled once again against the pass last week, with Trumbull quarterback Nick Roberts throwing for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our pass defense was poor and we didn’t do a good job of rushing the passer,” Albonizio said. “There was poor communication in the secondary. Guys were abandoning their receiver and it wasn’t even a challenge for Trumbull to complete a pass. We really have to start playing better defensively.”
On the plus side last week was the Cardinals performance offensively — an effort they hope to get again Saturday. Warde must contend with Cardinals’ explosive junior running back Austin Longi, who had a monster game vs. the Eagles, amassing 330 yards and five touchdowns.
“Austin had a phenomenal game, he is capable of doing that every week,” Albonizio said. “He wants the ball. Any time he touches the ball he’s a threat to go all the way. Rappa has also been doing a tremendous job for us, as is our quarterback.”