By Rob Adams
Coming off their victory last week against New Canaan, the Greenwich High School football team was faced with the inevitable question about a letdown game as they prepared to host Westhill.
No problem. After what could have been seen as a sluggish start, Big Red rolled to a 60-15 win over the Vikings at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday.
The Homecoming crowd was basely settled in before the Cardinals struck for their first of seven touchdown passes thrown by junior quarterback Gavin Muir.
“It all starts with the offensive line,” Muir said. “I have all the time in the world back there.
Muir started the scoring with a 50-yard pass to Lance Large. Junior Jack Feda ran the ball in for the two-point conversion to give the Cardinals an 8-0 advantage with 8:15 to play in the first quarter.
Five minutes later, Muir connected with senior captain Henry Saleeby on the right sideline for a 30-yard score. Zach Moore booted his first of seven extra points to extend the lead to 15-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior Noldylens Metayer found daylight to get the Vikings to to Greenwich six-yard line. Westhill (4-2, 3-2 FCIAC) used a tip drill on fourth down as senior Nicholas Nunes caught a touchdown from quarterback Laccona. Senior Saquan Kelly ran in the conversion to close the gap to 15-8.
Greenwich (5-0, 5-0 FCIAC) answered as Muir three his third touchdown of the quarter – this time to senior Jeremiah Harris from 37 yards out. As the quarter closed, Greenwich had a 22-8 lead.
Muir, who went 21 of 33 for 392 yards, found the end zone again with 6:46 to go in the half. Relying less on Tysen Comizio to run the ball, Muir instead hit the junior for a four-yard score.
Later in the quarter, junior receiver/kick returner Stephen Bennett found an opening off a punt by AJ Laccona. Bennett sprinted down the left sideline before he was caught at the Westhill one. Saleeby caught his second touchdown of the afternoon when Muir lofted the ball over his shoulder.
“I’ve been working with the receivers all offseason, and at the 7-on-7 tournament,” Muir said. “It’s just a great connection between all of them.”
While the partisan crowd at Cardinal Stadium thought that might be enough offense to get the home team to the locker room in preparation for the big Homecoming halftime show, coach John Marinelli and company had other ideas.
Working with just a half minute remaining, Muir orchestrated a quick drive to the Westhill 16, aided by two passes to Saleeby and one to senior Jael Negron. Moore trotted out and his a 33-yard field goal to open up a 39-8 halftime lead.
Following the introduction of the Homecoming court and the new athletic hall of fame class, the Cardinals got right back to business. Muir threw touchdown pass number six – this time to senior receiver Elias Gianopolous.
Bennett would get in on the fun, catching a seven-yard score as well. The Cardinals were now up 53-8 after three quarters.
With the clock running in the fourth quarter, the Vikings once again scored off of a tipped pass, as Laccona and Nunes connected for a 22-yard score.
The Vikings went for the onside kick, but junior linebacker Gramoz Bici snagged the ball and took off down the left side for a 45-yard touchdown.
“That just felt amazing,” Bici said. “I saw the ball pop up and I grabbed it. I did it a bunch of times in practice and if you work on it, it will come true.”
Bici was part of another strong effort by the Greenwich defense, limiting the Vikings to just 68 total yards, while the Cardinals moved the ball to the tune of 506.
“Everyone thought we were real weak up front. I think we’re the hungriest people on the defense,” Bici said. The whole defense has great chemistry.”
Next up is a trip to Taft Field as the Cardinals meet the Fairfield Ludlowe Falcons on Friday at 7 p.m.
“It’s a good team win, so we can enjoy it for now,” Muir said. We definitely have to correct the mistakes. There were some sloppy penalties.”