Through the first two games of the season, Greenwich’s football team’s defense has allowed only one touchdown and a total of 10 points. Sound familiar?
In the Cardinals’ 2018 championship season they yielded a mere 54 points in 13 games.
“The defense appears to have picked up right where it left off,” Cardinals first-year coach Anthony Morello said. “Coach Hocter (defensive coordinator Bryan Hocter) has done a great job of keeping the kids prepared.”
Greenwich topped Trumbull, 42-7, last week, after downing Danbury, 49-3, in its season-opener. In both games Greenwich’s defensive unit showcased what it does each day in practice — making it a challenge for the offense to move the ball.
“They impose their will on our offense in practice day in and day out,” Morello said. “They are a tough defense to practice against. We start each practice off with a two-minute drill and the offense starts off at the half yard line. Moving the ball against our defense is very challenging. Our defense runs so many schemes, I can imagine opposing teams finding it challenging to face them as well.”
Morello was especially impressed with what he saw from his Cardinals defense in Week 2 against Trumbull. The Cards shut out the Eagles in the first half and allowed a long touchdown run in the second half, which accounted for Trumbull’s seven points.
“Trumbull’s quarterback threw for five touchdowns the week before and we had some missed assignments in the secondary against Danbury — with a young secondary, we have little game experience,” Morello said. “When you control the line of scrimmage and limit the running game makes it easier to defend the pass. For the most part we played penalty-free football last week against Trumbull, we capitalized on mistakes and made things happen, between turnovers and sacks.”
Greenwich (2-0) which hosts FCIAC foe Norwalk Friday at 7 p.m., has consistently pressured the quarterback its first two games, with senior defensive lineman Eddy Iuteri leading the charge.
“Eddy has been great, he has been a force inside, he’s hard to move and he takes on double teams well,” Morello said. “He’s very good at reading offensive linemen and he is a smart, physical player and our most vocal leader on the team.”
Senior Stephen Sergio has made his presence felt on the defensive line, after working him self back from injuries in previous seasons.
“Stephen’s had multiple foot surgeries and it’s nice to see him healthy his senior year,” Morello said. “He’s been a very pleasant surprise.”
Juniors James Schmidt and Will Montesi have each been applied pressure for the Cards at defensive end.
“Schmidt and Montesi have done good job of controlling that edge, while causing fits for opposing tackles,” Morello said. “Our defensive line is jelling.”
Junior linebacker Vincent Ceci has registered a team-leading 21 tackles in two games, while junior TJ Abbazia has 11 tackles at the position.
“Ceci is a physical kid,” Morello said. “A lot of Cecis have come through the program over the years and he fits the bill for the family name. He plays with a lot of physicality and TJ has done a great job too.”
Meanwhile, senior Evan Weigold has anchored the linebacker corps.
“Evan has been all over the field for us,” Morello said. “Recovering from an ankle injury from the rugby season, the fact he is playing at the level now is really impressive.”
Greenwich’s defense’s next test is a Norwalk squad that has scored 88 points in its first two games. The Bears posted a 48-30 win over Trinity Catholic in its season-opener and a 40-12 triumph against Bridgeport Central in Week 2.
Senior quarterback Kyle Gordon has passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns through two games, while sophomore Camryn Edwards has rushed for 125 yards. Gordon has also gained 132 yards on the ground.
Greenwich counters with junior quarterback James Rinello (373 passing yard in two games), junior Hunter Clark (117 rushing yards, three touchdowns vs. Trumbull) and junior receiver AJ Barber to name just a few of the Cardinals’ offensive threats.
“The last time we saw Norwalk was at 7-on-7 camp during the summer and they beat us on a last second Hail Mary and the kids haven’t forgotten that,” Morello said. “It seems like every year at this time of season, both teams are undefeated. They are very well coached, the spread the ball out and they have creative ways to get guys the ball. I have great respect for their program. It’s a Friday night game, we don’t have too many here at Greenwich, so the kids are excited.”