GREENWICH — Anthony Morello and Mike Hannigan attended Greenwich High School and Brunswick School, respectively, where they each played football. Now the Greenwich residents have the rare distinction of serving as head coaches for their alma mater.
Hannigan and Morello are each beginning their first season at the helm for the teams they used to compete on and Friday, their squads met in a controlled scrimmage at Cardinal Stadium.
“I’m really proud to be the head coach at Brunswick,” said Hannigan, a 2001 Brunswick graduate, who replaces Jarrett Shine, after Shine coached the Bruins for 10 successful seasons. “I still think of myself as a kid from Glenville who was lucky to find his way to Brunswick — just where it was in town, let alone to be the coach at Brunswick. Some days I wake up and pinch myself. It’s something to follow in the footsteps of many great Brunswick coaches who coached me.”
Morello was hired as coach of the Cardinals after John Marinelli stepped down to accept an assistant football coaching position at the University of Arizona.
“I feel just as excited as the day it was first announced,” said Morello, who graduated from GHS in 2005. “It’s a blessing to be out here every day, doing what I love. Knowing I can coach Greenwich football is the best thing in the world.”
The Cardinals and Bruins continued their tradition of scrimmaging each other Friday, as they each prepare for the challenging seasons ahead of them. Greenwich finished 13-0 last season on its way to winning the CIAC Class LL championship. Brunswick was 8-2 and advanced to the NEPSAC Class A Championship Bowl, where it lost to Choate Rosemary Hall, 25-8.
“Any time can get work in it’s a great time and any time you can get work in against a guy wearing a different color jersey — the kids are going to love it,” Hannigan said. “It was a great enthusiastic day, we both got a lot of great work in. There’s a lot we can still work on, but they’re excited to see what they can improve upon. To come here and work with Tony, it’s great for the town. We’re two town guys, who played football in town and grew up playing football here that have lived here forever. It was a great opportunity for us to help football in Greenwich.”
Morello shared the same sentiment.
“A Greenwich High School and Brunswick scrimmage is something that should always happen,” Morello said. “Mike’s done a great job with his squad. We talked a lot during the summer and have talked about running our youth camp together.”
Friday’s controlled scrimmage saw the Bruins and Cardinals work on numerous aspects of the game. It began with the squads alternating possessions on each other’s 25-yard line to practice their running attack, with the defense’s goal of keeping them out of the end zone. On the other end of the field, wide receivers from each squad went against the defensive backs.
Bruins senior running back Jalen Madison, who gained the most yards for the squad, looked sharp running the ball. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown, during the special teams session.
“We are dealing with some injuries on our offensive line, but some younger guys stepped in and did a good job to get the running game going,” Madison said. “I think our running game looked really good today. Our offensive line is one of our strengths. They are tough and get after it every play.”
Senior Nick Winegardner, who turned in a strong season in his first year as the Bruins’ starting quarterback, got a lot of repetitions Friday, as did junior Danny Lauter.
“The scrimmage was great, it was time to get out there and get some practice in,” Winegardner said. “It’s fun to play against kids from town, who you play with your whole life. There’s a lot of young guys on our team with bright futures ahead of them.”
Juniors James Rinello, Carson Bylciw and Cage Lasley each saw some time at quarterback for the Cardinals on Friday.
“I think right now we have a lot to clean up in terms of our execution and there are a lot of things we have to improve on,” Rinello said. “I think we need to be a lot cleaner and I need to work on making cleaner reads. We have to get everything crisp and then we’ll be ready to go once the season starts.”
Like his teammates, Rinello enjoyed the scrimmage.
“It’s a great opportunity to get tons of people reps,” he said. It’s fun to play against kids that we know, but go to a different school — there’s a rivalry there.”
Senior Spencer Hartley received a good amount of carries out of the backfield for Greenwich, while senior Kevonne Wilder saw action as a receiver and running back for the Bruins.
“Kevonne Wilder has been great in the passing and running game,” Hannigan said. “He will kind of be the X factor for us.”
On defense, senior lineman Howard Powell was a standout for the Bruins, working his way into the Cardinals’ backfield on several plays. Powell helped power Brunswick’s defensive unit in 2018.
“I believe our defense can anchor our team, but our offense will also be a major factor to our success this season,” said Powell, who is also a starting offensive lineman. “We have the toughest schedule, I would say, in Class A New England football, which helps me and all our linemen improve, who go both ways. It’s so beneficial.”
Said Hannigan: “Howard Powell — I would put up against any defensive lineman in the state. He is explosive, he’s strong and he just eating it up in the middle there.”
Senior Bernard Zoungrana caught a touchdown pass, while junior Colin Mulshine had a long reception for the Bruins, who need several receivers to step up since 2018 leading receiver Cornelius Johnson (playing at Michigan) graduated.
Junior Jake Shreders got some carries for the Cardinals, who open their season against Danbury in two weeks.
“My goal for today’s scrimmage was to get everyone noticed and every kid an opportunity to play,” Morello said. “We made sure no one played both sides of the ball, everyone played one strict position. We got a little bit better and overall, it was a positive day.”
Said Cardinals senior captain Eddy Iuteri: “It was good to get some practice today and see things we don’t see during the season. We have a lot to work on, no doubt about it. We also scrimmaged Hand this week, so this week tested our mental toughness and prepared us well for the season.”
Brunswick opens its season on the road against Loomis Chaffee in two weeks.