GREENWICH — Brunswick School’s football season doesn’t begin until Sept. 14 with a home game under the lights, but hot, humid Cosby Field was the site of non-stop action for more than two hours Monday afternoon, with the Bruins and visiting Greenwich sharpening their skills against each other.
The Cardinals and Bruins met in a controlled scrimmage in 2015 after not facing each other for numerous years and the two neighborhood squads were at it again Monday.
Under the watchful of eyes of Brunswick coach Jarrett Shine and Greenwich’s John Marinelli the teams worked on getting each unit into form as their respective seasons approach.
“We got what we wanted from this scrimmage,” said Bruins senior wide receiver Cornelius Johnson, who will serve as one of the squad’s captains and has drawn the interest of dozens of Division I schools. “It was a good chance for us to compete and see what we have. Opportunities are there for a lot of players, so this was a chance to make the most of the opportunities.”
Both teams rotated players and gave a number of inexperienced athletes a chance to compete. Some standout players on both squads were rested as well.
“This scrimmage was about just putting people in spots to see how they do,” Marinelli said. “We want to see if they can fight through adversity and how they can help the team. I saw some bad things mostly and some decent things. We have some things to work on obviously, but overall, I’m also happy with some of the things I saw.”
Greenwich, which registered a record of 12-1 in 2017 and advanced to the championship game of the Class LL tournament, hosts FCIAC foe Trumbull on Sept. 8. Brunswick, which was 5-3 last fall, plays visiting Loomis Chaffee School on Sept. 14.
The Bruins have a quarterback competition simmering with senior Finn Signer and junior Nick Winegardner vying for the starting spot. Both were impressive during Monday’s controlled scrimmage, which saw each team’s offensive units get the ball for 10 plays at a time throughout.
Signer threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Johnson the opening possession for Brunswick, which had the edge on Greenwich’s defense. Junior Jalen Madison ran for a 4-yard touchdown and took a screen pass more than 30 yards for a score.
Nadjingar Ngbokoli, a junior also ran for a touchdown for the Bruins, who were also sparked in the running game by senior Michael Gottlieb. Signer and Winegardner each displayed their strengths.
“Finn Signer threw the ball really well and Nicky Winegardner used his legs really well,” Shine said. “They bring different skill sets to the team depending on what we need.”
Overall, the Bruins’ offense was pretty efficient.
“We didn’t have all our linemen, but at the same time we didn’t face all their defensive linemen, so I don’t want our kids to have a false sense of hope,” Shine said. “We just have to continue to work hard and get better.”
Senior quarterback Gavin Muir, who turned in a tremendous junior season (2,902 yards, 33 touchdowns) got the start Monday, before giving way to Carson Bylciw, Will Fox, Cage Lasley and James Rinello.
“We got five guys in at quarterback, which is good, we wanted to see what they could do,” Marinelli said. “Our running back and younger guys stepped up today. I thought they did a good job of running the ball. Defensively, our linebacker play was good and our special teams did a good job as well. Our tackling needs some work and our receivers dropped some balls, so we get back to work on the fundamentals and get ready for Trumbull.”
Receiver Matt Davey caught a touchdown pass from Lasley for Greenwich, which beat Trumbull in last year’s season-opener.
“Today, we showed some good things and things we need to work on,” Johnson said. “During my four years here, playing Greenwich is an annual thing. It helps us get that competitive spirit going against another squad and it gives us something to build on.”