Trumbull’s sick of hearing about ‘The Shelton’ game.
It was a mess. Trumbull knows it was a mess. The Eagles are done with it.
What coach Bob Maffei predicted would be one of the Week 1 SCC-FCIAC Challenge’s best games turned out to be a major flop.
It was 49-0 at the half when the game was postponed because of a Thunderstorm, making Trumbull schlep back to Finn Stadium the next afternoon and relive the nightmare again.
“They whipped us. The next day I said, ‘You know what? Let’s get our crap together,'” Trumbull coach Bob Maffei recalled this week. “It’s 0-0. Let’s go play. And that’s what they did.”
Trumbull played and took solace in the fact they outscored Shelton 20-8 on Day 2, falling 57-20. Granted, the game was already decided, but it was a start.
Trumbull hasn’t lost since.
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“That Shelton game? Don’t judge us by that,” Maffei said. “We’ve turned the page.”
By winning four consecutive games against Warde, Stamford, Norwalk and Westhill, Trumbull has seen drastic improvements in all phases of its game. The Eagles are now 4-1 heading into a midterm game vs. Greenwich at McDougall Stadium Friday.
Most notable is the play of three-year starting quarterback Nick Roberts, a 6-foot-4 senior whose thrown for over 200 yards in all four wins after throwing just 93 with three interceptions vs. Shelton. The senior set school records with six touchdown passes and 363 yards in a 49-16 rout of Westhill.
Roberts had a rough varsity baptism as a sophomore when projected starter Brendan Moore was lost for the year in Week 1 of the 2011 season.
But Roberts and, by extension, Trumbull, have gradually improved. The quarterback has completed 70 of 131 passes for 1184 yards and 17 touchdowns against four interceptions.
“The kid is awesome,” Maffei said. “He can throw the long ball, the short ball. He’s smart. He calls his own plays for us. We give him the whole offense.”
Roberts isn’t as heralded as some of the state’s better quarterbacks. Colleges aren’t busting down his doors. He’s made visits to Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut State, where Maffei’s son, Bobby, is an assistant coach.
“(Recruiters) need to start looking at him, to be honest with you,” Maffei said. “But they’re not. Nobody’s called me. I don’t know what’s wrong with these people. He’s legit.”
The Eagles also feature four clones at wide receiver, Quinton Brunetti, T.J. Hayduk, Eric Anderson and Hunter Wiskowski, who have strikingly similar statistics. “They’re all equal,” Maffei said. “If you want to stop one guy, we can give it to the other.”
Back M.J. Caesar has run for 402 yards and three touchdowns behind a line that’s effective, if not massive like usual Trumbull teams.
Defensively, Trumbull’s three down linemen, led by senior Andrew Marino, are massive. They average 280 pounds across. “They’re space eaters,” Maffei said.
And Maffei loves his shutdown corners, Liam Moore and T.J. Hayduk. “They’re outstanding,” Maffei said. “You try to throw on them, you’re done. We take your No. 1 out. He doesn’t exist.”
Still, Trumbull’s four victories have come against teams that, combined, have as many victories as Shelton (4).
Now it’s time to find out. Was Shelton really a fluke? Or has Trumbull actually righted its 2013 ship for a playoff run?
Greenwich has rebounded from a 1-2 start with overwhelming victories over Trinity Catholic and Norwalk. The Cards have committed to junior Matt Marzulla at quarterback and feature one of the FCIAC’s top threats in junior Austin Longi.
“People can say whatever they want about us. We just go play,” Maffei said. “You look at the Shelton game and say, ‘These guys suck. They’ve played no one.’ Whatever you want to tell us, we don’t care. We’re going to keep playing.
“This is a big game for us, I guess. If we beat them, I guess we’re OK.”
Underalded, but still unbeaten
Of the FCIAC’s four remaining unbeaten teams, the least regarded has been McMahon, which is 5-0 for the first time since 1993. The Senators routed Harding 41-13 on Saturday behind Timmy Hinton’s 98 yards and three touchdowns.
The Senators hadn’t received any state poll votes until this week.
“I don’t know how a 5-0 football team could fly under the radar, but we are,” coach A.J. Albano said.
A part of that might be McMahon’s five opponents are a combined 8-17 and, in Week 4, the Senators needed to hang on to beat Westhill, a team Trumbull defeated 49-16.
“Westhill did a really good job controlling the line of scrimmage last week, and that’s not good if you’re a running team,” Albano said “We challenged the offensive line to get a push and control the line of scrimmage. A bad play for us is three yards. And the kids did a great job.”
Without senior back Trevon Forney, who broke his arm in Week 3 vs. Danbury, McMahon has run for over 1,200 yards this year, led by Hinton’s 498 yards and six touchdowns. “We’ve just got to play strong with adversity,” Hinton said. “Things are going to come our way, people are going to get injured, but we’ve just got to keep playing strong and with McMahon pride.”
Defensively, McMahon’s 59 points allowed is an FCIAC best.
“That’s what we do,” Albano said. “We run the ball and play defense.”
McMahon’s next opponent is 0-5 Stamford. The Senators follow with a bye before entering a rough stretch vs. Ludlowe (3-2), Ridgefield (4-1) and St. Joseph (5-0) before FCIAC championship week.
“If you play in the FCIAC, we know you can lose to any team,” Albano said. “There’s no doubt about it and these kids have to understand that. Starting Monday, we’re 0-0, that’s how we look at it.”
Still, no Cochran
Harding’s interim coach Eddie Santiago offered a terse ‘no comment’ to Connecticut Post’s Doug Bonjour when asked about the status of coach Jack Cochran, who has missed two consecutive games with what Bridgeport superintendent Paul Vallas told the Post was a heart ailment. That hasn’t stopped rampant speculation, however. A source said Harding is in ‘wait and see’ mode on whether the coach will return.
Harding has lost two consecutive games to fall to 2-3 since Cochran has been out. He is not expected to return when the Presidents faces 4-1 Ridgefield Friday night.
Harding had a 7-0 lead over McMahon thanks to a 54-yard touchdown pass from Christian Hopkins to T.J. Killings. But McMahon followed with 41 consecutive points.
“We haven’t been playing Harding football the way we did in the first four games,” Santiago said. “That’s what it came down to.”
Odds and Ends
Bassick’s 34-12 victory over Central was its first over its Bridgeport rival since 1995. The Lions host St. Joseph Saturday. …For the second time in two weeks, St. Joseph was shut out in the first quarter. But the Hogs still wound up with 44 points thanks to a 284 yards, three-touchdown day from Jordan Vazzano. … Lights in the corner of one Greenwich end zone went out at halftime of the Cardinals’ 49-0 victory over Norwalk. The teams agreed to keep playing. …Norwalk quarterback Jeremy Linton left the game after a hard hit from Greenwich’s Longi. His status for this week’s game vs. Ludlowe. …New Canaan, ranked No. 2 in the GameTimeCT/Register Poll, scored seven touchdowns in 20 minutes and sat starters early in the second quarter in a 49-7 rout. Nick Cascione was 8 of 9 passing for 170 yards. Four completions went for touchdowns. …The Rams play host Chicopee (Mass.) on Friday night at 7. Chicopee is 2-3 and is coming off a 27-14 victory over Commerce Co-Op of Springfield. The Rams are scheduled to play at Chicopee next year. …Through Week 5 here are your statistical leaders, according to stats entered on MaxPreps: Passing: St. Joseph’s Jordan Vazzano (1,287 yards), Trumbull’s Nick Roberts (1,184), Darien’s Silas Wyper (1,126), New Canaan’s Nick Cascione (997), Ridgefield’s Ryan Dunn (878). Rushing: Ridgefield’s Will Bonaparte (729 yards), St. Joseph’s Mufasa Abdul-Basir (649), Norwalk’s Cliff Joseph (622), Bassick’s Vochan Fowler (564), Staples’ Pat Lesch (543). Receiving: St. Joseph’s Lars Pedersen (457 yards), Trumbull’s T.J. Hayduk (404), Darien’s Griffin Ross (384), Danbury’s Elijah Duffy (352), St. Joseph’s Shane Miller (351). Scoring: Darien’s Nick Lombardo (70 points), Ridgefield’s Bonaparte (56), Staples’ Lesch (54), Darien’s Jay Harrison (54), St. Joseph’s Pedersen (52).
Note: The original story incorrectly stated Chicopee Comprehensive was New Canaan’s opponent. It has been corrected.