By Rob Adams
The two high school football teams in Greenwich gave fans plenty of thrills on Saturday, but there was heartbreak on one side of town, while the other side rejoiced.
Earlier in the day, Greenwich High knocked off a feisty Ridgefield Tigers squad, 26-21, while the Brunswick Bruins lost a tough-fought 40-35 matchup with Trinity-Pawling.
Big Red Stays Perfect Against Tigers
The Greenwich Cardinals knew that they had to play a strong game against Ridgefield at Cardinal Stadium. The Tigers came into the game with losses to Darien and St. Joseph – two of the top teams in the FCIAC.
Early on, the two teams struggled to find their way before senior receiver Elias Gianopoulos broke loose for a 49-yard touchdown catch and run. It was the lone touchdown toss for junior quarterback Gavin Muir, who was 21 of 34 for 261 yards.
The Cardinals lead would swell to 13-0 thanks to two field goals of over 40 yards by senior kicker Zach Moore. However, controversy stepped in prior to the second kick.
Ridgefield quarterback Greg Gatto (28 of 44 for 285 yards, three touchdowns) lobbed the ball into the back of the end zone for receiver Luke Gaydos. Initially ruled a touchdown, the officials conferred after the play and reversed the call.
“When the ball gets thrown up in the air, it’s a jump ball,” Greenwich captain Finbar Doyle said.
Doyle said that he spoke with the officials to encourage them to take another look, as he saw the ball fall for what he felt was an incomplete pass.
“It ended up panning out our way,” he said.
The Tigers tried a field goal, but the ball hit the upright, giving Greenwich’s quick strike offense the ball back.
The second half produced a different Tigers team, as Gatto threw touchdowns to Matt Lombardo and Jackson Mitchell to take a 14-13 lead with 4:21 remaining in the frame. It was the first time the Cardinals have trailed since early in the second quarter on opening day against Trumbull, and the latest they’ve trailed so far this season.
“This is the championship nature of the team,” Doyle said. “We just have to keep grinding. It was a very winnable game for us, and a winnable game for them as well.
“I don’t think there was any panic. We knew we weren’t playing to our potential. It was maybe even one of our worst games of the year.”
The defense stiffened, and the offense quickly answered, as Muir found captain Henry Saleeby for 38 yards on third-and-ten at the Greenwich 24. Two plays later, Tysen Comizio bulldozed ahead for a 20 yard score.
Comizio would add a fourth quarter touchdown from four yards out and the Cardinals survived a late comeback attempt to improve to 7-0 with senior night approaching this Friday against Danbury.
“It’s really important for the parents and some of the other players who don’t see the field as much,” Doyle said. “We need to recognize them for all of the sacrifices that they’ve made for this wonderful program that we are.”
Bruins Feel Heartbreak Against Pride
At Cosby Field, Brunswick hoped to regain its winning form against Trinity-Pawling in an Erickson League Matchup. The Bruins lost last week to Avon Old Farms and a win would keep them bowl-eligible.
It was not to be, as senior quarterback Re’Mahn Davis pushed in for a one-yard touchdown with 14 seconds remaining to dampen the senior night spirits.
Davis showed his multi-dimensional skills with a kickoff return for a score, as well as a touchdown pass to Phip Waugh, to go along with his play on defense and four touchdown runs.
“It was an offensive battle,” Bruins coach Jarrett Shine said. “Playing against Re’Mahn Davis – you can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him.”
After an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Davis, the Bruins found the end zone, as senior quarterback Nick Henkel hit Jack Montinaro for a 24-yard response to tie the game at seven.
The teams traded touchdowns, with Henkel escaping to find fellow senior captain Sean Amiel for a 29-yard score.
Michael Gottlieb gave the Bruins a 21-14 lead in the second quarter on a one-yard score, but Davis and company were able to answer on the pass to Waugh, sending the teams to the locker room tied at 21.
The Bruins would again take the lead, as Amiel caught a 16-yard score, but he said the team didn’t take full advantage of opportunities.
“We had some momentum going and we had a couple of drives where we made mistakes,” Amiel said. “We gave them extra life.”
The fourth quarter saw a questionable pass interference call give the Pride the ball at the Brunswick 5. Shine said he was told the rule is now a spot foul, as opposed to the traditional 15-yard penalty.
“I didn’t think it was pass interference, to be honest with you,” Shine said.
Shine felt the Brunswick defender tipped the ball, thus negating the interference. As for the spot foul?
“That’s new this year, because I know it wasn’t there last year,” he said.
Davis scored again to tie the game at 28, but senior Jack Ocken took the ensuing squib kick for an entertaining 65-yard trip to the end zone.
After that, Davis took over, running for a 65-yard touchdown that looked like it would tie the game. The extra point try was botched, giving the Bruins a 35-34 lead with 4:38 to go.
With final whistle, the Bruins will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2012.
“I feel for the them,” Shine said, referencing his seniors. “You get to a point where you’re so used to going to a bowl game that you expect to do that.”
“This is a tough one to swallow,” Amiel said. “It’s one of the most emotional experiences I’ve ever faced. I’ve been at Brunswick for 14 years.
“We have another game against Williston. We need to finish out the year strong.”