Greenwich’s football game against Danbury in Week 1 marked the debut of James Rinello as the team’s starting quarterback, a challenging role with a high-profile team coming off a championship season.
Yet Rinello, a junior, replacing 2019 GHS graduate Gavin Muir as the squad’s signal caller, proved the moment wasn’t too big for him.
Showing poise in the pocket throughout, Rinello produced an effective performance in his first varsity start for the Cardinals, completing 14 of 19 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the team’s 49-3 home win against Danbury.
“He definitely stood up to the pressure that was around him,” Greenwich first-year coach Anthony Morello said of Rinello. “He was very calm on the sideline and he demonstrated poise on and off the field. Throughout the game, he was executing well during our possessions.”
After being held scoreless in the first quarter against the Hatters last week, the Cardinals scored 28 second-quarter points, cashing in on the chances the defense and special teams gave them.
“The first series, it was a little different going in as a starting quarterback,” said Rinello, who last season, backed up Muir, the Cardinals all-time leading passer. “As the game went on, we started making the plays we needed to make.”
Added Morello: “It’s nice seeing him develop at the position. He’s taking our coaching well.”
Like Rinello, other players on the Cardinals’ offense handled their increased roles well. Junior Kobe Comizio, who came off the bench last season, had a team-high seven receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown, while junior AJ Barber, who turned in a sensational sophomore season, had four receptions for 66 yards with two touchdowns.
“Coach Kevin Avery has done a terrific job with the wide receivers,” Morello said. “I loved the blocking I saw from the receivers. AJ’s blocks got me the most excited.”
The Cards rushed for 68 yards against Danbury, an area they hope to improve on in Friday’s 7 p.m. FCIAC matchup against Trumbull. Senior Jack Warren led the way with 35 yards rushing, but is questionable for the Cardinals game against the Eagles, after injuring his foot against Danbury. Junior Spencer Hartley had 34 yards rushing in Week 1 and returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.
“We were able to do a lot of nice things inside with our running game,” Morello said. “Our jet series did really well with Kobe and we did an okay job on Danbury’s defensive line, which was very fast, they got off the ball really well. “We have to do a better job with our cadence maintaining our blocks throughout the play. Danbury was good up front, that was the best facet of their game, so the fact we were able to move the ball well was encouraging.”
Friday, the Cardinals are facing a Trumbull squad that opened its season by downing Bridgeport Central, 42-6. Greenwich beat Trumbull, 42-7, in its 2018 season-opener, but Morello remembers all too well the last time the Cardinals visited Trumbull in 2015. The Eagles posted a 38-23 home victory over the Cardinals four seasons ago.
“Trumbull is one of the toughest places to play,” said Morello, who also noted that Greenwich hasn’t beaten Trumbull on the road since 2011. “I remember that bus ride home in 2015, it was a tough ride back.”
Marce Petroccio, who had a long coaching tenure at Staples, is in his second season at the helm at Trumbull.
“Coach Petroccio is a legendary coach, I played against him, when he was a coach at Staples,” said Morello, who was an offensive lineman during his high school days at Greenwich. “Trumbull is going to be coached up and inspired to play. They have size, speed and strength — it’s going to be a marathon.”
Senior defensive lineman Eddy Iuteri led Greenwich last week with 31/2 sacks. … Linebacker Vincent Ceci had 11/2 sacks for the Cards, who registered seven versus Danbury. … Ceci also made a team-high 10 tackles.