[aesop_character img=”http://www.gametimect.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Headshot.png” caption=”SEAN PATRICK BOWLEY” align=”right” force_circle=”off”]
One of the projected trouble spots for Greenwich heading into the season was on the offensive line, which graduated two All-FCIAC monsters in Kevin Woodring and Ian Bannon. It was a concern, especially for an offense that was struggling to learn an entirely new system under second-year coach John Marinelli.
Yet, the Cardinals’ offensive line has been a source of strength, especially on the ground. In a hat-tip to the glory years of Greenwich’s past rather than the expected pass-happy future, the Cardinals have rushed for nearly 1,300 yards — an average of 258 per game — halfway through the season.
The unit, which is anchored by Chase Piro, Christian Novakowski, Blake Guerrieri and Daniel Ezquivel, had, perhaps, its best game of the young season in Saturday’s 42-32 victory over Trumbull.
“We were clicking on offense,” said Iobbi who, in one game, produced approximately half of his rushing totals from the previous four games. “I mean, 42 points is no joke against a very good Trumbull team.
“Whether it was Piro, Novakowsky, Guerrieri or Ezquivel… We’re always pulling. I just got behind them, put my hand on their backs and they did a great job getting up in the hole. I just needed to make one move and that was it.”
The line bought real estate for tough senior Kevin Iobbi, who averaged 6.1 yards per carry while running 41 times for 242 yards and four touchdowns. Greenwich, which trailed 24-21 early in the fourth quarter, took command of the game with two-consecutive touchdowns.
“The offensive line, they’re just starting to jell. They’re just starting to jell and they haven’t even hit their stride yet,” Marinelli said afterward. “I’m excited for them because they bring it every day at practice every day. That’s key for those guys to jell together at practice.
“Keeping kids not bored during a bye week is tough, but they brought it to practice every day. I’ve got to give them credit.”
The offensive line was so effective, Marinelli pulled the reins back on his up-tempo offense, preferring to eat clock and keep Trumbull QB John McElroy from engineering some late-game magic.
“We slowed it down a little bit on offense and we stopped going after the quarterback,” Marinelli said. “We just sat back and said, if they’re going to scramble, they’re going to get limited yards. That kid (McElroy) is such a great athlete. He is the best quarterback in the FCIAC.”
Even though McElroy got Trumbull within 35-32 with five minutes remaining with a strike to Peter Raverta, Greenwich eliminated all doubt about the game’s outcome when Iobbi followed the 6-foot-5, 252-pound Novakowski and then bolted 58 yards for the clinching score.
“He controlled the game with how he was running the rock,” Trumbull coach Bob Maffei said. “He followed his blockers and blends in.”
Through five games, it’s become clear that Greenwich will go as far as Iobbi and the offensive line will take it. In the Cardinals’ only loss of the season — 42-35 vs. Darien in Week 3 — Greenwich managed just 39 yards on 27 attempts. Iobbi had just 22 yards.
In Greenwich’s four victories, it has averaged 313.4 yards per game. Iobbi, who listed generously at 5-foot-10, has rushed for 824 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“Kevin Iobbi is very good at football,” Marinelli said. “He brings it every day. I feel bad for our receivers, because we are watching the Kevin Iobbi show right now.”
Now Greenwich heads to unbeaten New Canaan Friday night for the second meeting of the Marinellis. Greenwich played the eventual Class L champions tough last season before losing, 24-14.
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) October 17, 2016
This time, Marinelli the Younger believes experience his on his team’s side. New Canan’s only victory over a team with a winning record was a 41-21 victory over Ridgefield, which fell to 3-2 after a loss to Trinity Catholic last weekend.
New Canaan defeated Trinity 20-6 in Week 1 and has rolled up 1,900 yards of offense while outscoring opponents by an average score of 36-10. The Rams have not lost to anyone other than Darien at Dunning Field since November, 2007.
A victory, and all the playoff points it would secure, will go a long way in helping Greenwich return to the Class LL playoffs for the first time since 2011. Greenwich is ranked No. 9 in the current playoff standings.
“I don’t know if they’ve played anybody yet, so we’ll find out,” John Marinelli said of facing his father, Lou’s team. “I think we’ve played some pretty tough games, so I think our guys are a little more game ready.
“But it’s… it’s next week. Everyone knows what it’s about. Everyone’s going to be there … It’s a family affair next week. There’s no winner in the Marinelli household but we’re going out for a win against them.”
A noble gesture
— DarienAthFoundation (@DarienAF) October 16, 2016
In spite of a 54-17 loss to Darien, McMahon’s football team still managed to head back to Norwalk triumphantly.
Late in the game, coach A.J. Albano arranged to allow Jamie Taylor, a senior and four-year member of the program who has Down Syndrome, to score on a 60-yard touchdown.
John Nash, a writer and photographer for The Hour of Norwalk, captured the aftermath beautifully with a shot of Taylor hoisting his coach into the air.
The above video was taken from the Darien sidelines by the Darien Athletic Foundation.
[aesop_video align=”center” src=”youtube” id=”GXp7RigzsG4″ caption=”Westhill’s Brendan Holtzclaw’s five sacks vs. Ludlowe (footage submitted by Westhill High School)” disable_for_mobile=”on” loop=”on” autoplay=”on” controls=”on” viewstart=”on” viewend=”on”]
One of the biggest news nuggets of news to come out of an eventful week in the FCIAC was Westhill senior Brendan Holtzclaw’s extraordinary defensive day in Holzclaw sets state sack record as Westhill shuts out Ludlowe
Originally, Stamford Advocate reporter Scott Ericson reported that Holtzclaw had made eight sacks, which would have shattered the all-time state of six in a game, owned by three players — Plainville’s Michael Debboli (1975), Weaver’s Derrick Comeaux (2004) and Ernest Wiggins of Bridgeport Central (2009).
But as Westhill reviewed the tape on Sunday, the team determined that Holtzclaw was only in on five sacks and Ericson quickly issued a correction. Though it wasn’t a state record, the team determined it was still a program record.
That is, until a couple days later, when Dave Ruden of the Ruden Report heard from former Westhill coach Bill Kurtz (now at New Canaan), who reported that Westhill’s Mike Berg had made at least six sacks in one game, possibly seven.
The state record book has been compiled since 1997 and didn’t really become mainstream in the state until MaxPreps’ statistical database debuted in 2004. It’s an inexact science which relies on media reports and team submissions to current record-keepers Gerry deSimas Jr. and Bob Barton.
According to Ruden, it never occurred to Kurtz to report it.
— Dave Ruden (@DaveRuden) October 19, 2016
Regardless of what the true record is, it was still an outstanding day by Holtzclaw. He joins 12 others with five sacks in a single game, the last was Naugatuck’s Aaron Echevarria in a victory over Ansonia in 2010. The last FCIAC player to have five or more sacks in a game was, of course, Darien’s Mark Evanchick with 5 1/2 vs. Greenwich.
Citing school security footage “previously unseen” Darien Public Schools slapped head coach Rob Trifone with two more weeks of suspension for slapping one of his players on the helmet. Trifone was previously suspended through last Saturday. Now he will miss two more games — at Danbury, vs. Wilton — and will return by Halloween. That means the 2015 New Haven Register coach of the year will have missed exactly a month.
Darien has refused to elaborate on their decision. Trifone, in a school-approved statement, accepted his punishment.
…Greenwich High School issued a second apology, this time from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Salvatore J. Corda, for its freshman team’s use of ‘Hitler’ and ‘Stalin’ play shift names. Coach John Marinelli also issued a statement taking full responsibility for the incident. The school vowed to conduct assemblies and sensitivity training for its coaches to educate an atone for the issue.
…After missing a week due to a leg injury, senior Andrew Speed returned behind center for Staples in the league’s only Friday night game at Stamford. Speed connected with Ryan Fitton on a 13-yard touchdown pass and several other plays as the Wreckers rebounded from last week’s non-league loss to NFA by pulling away with a 42-13 victory over the Black Knights. Staples (5-1) plays at Ridgefield — which defeated the Wreckers last year — before finally getting a bye in Week 8.
…Ridgefield, which is now in trouble after losing to resurgent Trinity Catholic, 38-33, on Saturday, could see the return of quarterback Drew Fowler, who injured his shoulder in the team’s 41-21 loss to New Canaan in Week 2. Fowler, considered on of the league’s top quarterbacks coming into the season, was expected to miss at most three weeks. Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan told Ryan Lacey of the Westport News his quarterback is “questionable.” Junior Greg Gatto has thrown for over 900 yards, including 400 vs. Trinity, as Foweler’s replacement.
The Top 5
1. DARIEN (5-0) — The kids could run this team.
2. NEW CANAAN (5-0) — Dunning Field: Disappointing non-Darien opponents since 2007.
3. GREENWICH (4-1) — Looking like Old Greenwich out there.
4. STAPLES (4-1) — Great that Speed’s back and Fitton’s been great, but we still have concerns.
5 . TRUMBULL (3-2) — Tough call at this spot. But for now, Ridgefield’s status drops because it’s a QB and Trumbull didn’t lose to Trinity.
JUST MISSED — Ridgefield (3-2), St. Joseph (4-1), Trinity Catholic (2-3).
Bridg.Central at Trumbull, 7:00 p.m.
Greenwich at New Canaan, 7:00 p.m.
Trinity Cath. at Ffld.Ludlowe, 7:00 p.m.
Darien at Danbury, 7:00 p.m.
St. Joseph at Ffld.Warde, 7:00 p.m.
Staples at Ridgefield, 7:00 p.m.
Norwalk at Westhill, 3:00 p.m.
Stamford at Wilton, 2:30 p.m.