WESTPORT >> It’s safe to say people have a pretty good idea who Staples High’s Ethan Burger is now.
Last week in a 24-0 victory over Wilton, Burger piled up 131 yards on the ground and one score. Saturday afternoon during the Homecoming game against Westhill, Burger picked up right where he left off.
The 5-foot-8 speedy sophomore scored less than five minutes in and never looked back. Burger paced the Wreckers (2-1) with two touchdowns and rushed for 170 yards as Staples rolled to a 34-0 win.
“I think the linemen did a great job,” Burger said. “I couldn’t have done it without them; that was a big part of my success.”
After just one carry in the Wreckers opening loss to Xavier, Burger has been slowly carving himself a vital and consistent piece of the offense as injuries have forced some roster shuffling.
“We wanted to see what he would do last week, and he’s got just an explosiveness that I can’t coach,” Staples head coach Marce Petroccio said. “He had a great day. We’re happy that he’s able to run behind a pretty good offensive line right now.”
While Burger provided the highlights on the ground, it was once again the Staples defense that stole the show.
The defensive unit, which hasn’t allowed a touchdown this season, and have surrendered only three points, never allowed the Vikings offense to get comfortable. Ryan Connors recorded two of the four sacks on the afternoon, the defense collected a blocked a punt and allowed just one first half first down.
“They’re lights out,” Petroccio said. “They’re playing so hard; just done a tremendous job. All the guys on the staff have really made a total commitment as we’ve talked before, to stopping people. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”
Added Westhill head coach Frank Marcucio: “I was worried about blocking up front all week; they’re a legit football team. They haven’t given up a touchdown the whole season.”
Staples took a dominant 21-0 lead after one quarter, as Burger (6 yards) and Owen Burke (15 yards) each scored.
Senior quarterback Teddy Coogan, who is making his way back into the lineup from a shoulder injury suffered against Xavier, threw a perfect 73-yard pass to Jake Melnick to give Staples the three touchdown advantage in the opening quarter. Coogan split time Saturday with Trevor Shearer.
While Westhill made some second half adjustments and found some consistency with Josh Exantus running the ball to the outside, the Vikings offense could never fully break through with some stalled drives on dropped passes stopping any momentum. Exantus finished with 65 yards rushing for the Vikings.
Burger made it 31-0 after three quarters of play after he broke free on a fourth-and-2 and ran for the 52-yard score.
Staples junior kicker Paul Tricarico displayed his range as he connected on two field goals for the Wreckers including a 37-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Staples will face Stamford (2-1) on Thursday at home at 7 p.m. while Westhill (1-2) will host Brien McMahon (2-1) on Friday at 2:30 p.m.