WESTPORT >> Staples High head football coach Marce Petroccio knew coming into Friday’s game against one-loss Stamford, defense would make or break the game.
Luckily for Staples, it was the starting and end point on a dominant effort that featured two interceptions and multiple big stops throughout the evening, as Staples rolled to the 35-0 victory on Homecoming Game.
“I knew if we were going to win today we were going to have to play great defense, and I think we really did,” Petroccio said.
Stamford (3-2), which features one of the leagues most intimidating looking backs, 6-foot, 240 pound Tyrel Diaz, and versatile junior quarterback Troy Duncan have combined to provide quite the 1-2 punch to opponents earlier this season.
Friday, the two were held in check for most of the evening as Diaz was limited to 78 rushing yards.
Led by a stout defensive effort, Staples’ offense was able to get going after a scoreless first quarter. Evan Gilland, who was the featured back in place of injured starter Ethan Burger, capped off a 12-play drive with a 6-yard score to make it 7-0.
The defense came up big again, as on the next series, defensive back Colin Hoy picked off Duncan to put Staples back in scoring position.
Quarterback Andrew Speed made the most of the opportunity with a 1-yard TD to give the Wreckers the 14-0 lead at the half.
“It really turned the tides,” Hoy said of his interception.
Stamford did its best to get back into the game, and had some chances, but turnovers, including an opening second half fumble, cost the Black Knights in the key moments.
“We just put ourselves in tough situations all night,” Stamford head coach Jamar Greene said. “I think what happened was our kids saw the Staples Wreckers across the chest and we became a young team again.”
While it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Staples — as Speed went down in the second half, and didn’t return — the Wreckers still found ways to prevail.
Jon Maragos recorded two rushing touchdowns in the second half, Ryan Fitton stepped up with 80 yards receiving, including a highlight-worthy 15 yard tipped pass from sophomore quarterback Dan Thompson, who replaced Speed.
“It’s the next man in mentality,” Petroccio said.
The night ended with Staples’ Brendan Massoud picking off Duncan.
“We knew we had to stop the quarterback and No. 7,” Petroccio said. “We knew they were dangerous. They got a couple on us tonight, but I just think the fact that we slowed them down and we overcame a lot of adversity.”
Staples 35, Stamford 0
Stamford 0 0 0 0 — 0
Staples 0 14 14 7 — 35
Staples — Evan Gilland 6 run (Tricarico kick)
Staples — Andrew Speed 1 run (Tricarico kick)
Staples — Jon Maragos 1 run (Tricarico kick)
Staples–Ryan Fitton 15 pass from Thompson (Tricarico kick)
Staples–Jon Maragos 4 run (Tricarico kick)
Team Records: Stamford 3-2, Staples 4-0