TRUMBULL — St. Joseph continued its torrid start to the season on Saturday afternoon, with a dominant showing in a 42-7 triumph over Notre Dame-West Haven at Dalling Field.
Quarterback Jack Wallace threw three first-half touchdowns, all to receiver Will Diamantis, and senior tailback Jaden Shirden rushed for a pair of scores to stake the second-ranked Cadets to a 42-7 halftime advantage.
Diamantis also tossed a 67-yard touchdown to Austin Jose on a double pass taken from Wallace during a perfectly-executed gadget play.
“We’ve been working on it,” Diamantis said. “Coach told me yesterday we were trying it, bringing it out. I was getting ready all night and all day for it. I just wanted to execute it.”
That gave St. Joseph a 14-0 edge after Jose tacked on the first of six successful extra points.
“We’ve had it in our back pocket for years,” St. Joseph head coach Joe Della Vecchia said. “I think we’re 10-for-10 completing it and nine were touchdowns. We just didn’t have a guy that could throw the ball the last couple of years.”
The Green Knights responded with their only scoring drive of the contest. On third-and-12, quarterback Jackson Zalinsky found receiver Thomas Candelora running free. Candelora then raced 82 yards to cut the Cadet’s lead in half with 4:06 left in the opening frame.
“We wanted to put pressure on him (Zalinksy) and make him look at our rush instead of the receivers down field,” Della Vecchia said. “They did hit on a couple.”
The second quarter was all St. Joseph, as Diamantis hauled in scores of 5 and 26 yards from Wallace to extend the margin to 28-7 with 5:21 remaining in the half.
“It was a really good day for the offense,” Diamantis said. “We’ve been working hard at practice all week. We knew that they were going to come out flying around. We just had to come out and have more energy than them.”
St. Joseph then went to the ground game, following the second interception of the quarter by defensive back Maxwell Warren. Shirden rocketed around the left edge en route to a 32-yard score to make it 35-7, before the defense forced a three-and-out by the Green Knights.
Following a short punt, Shirden finished off a three-play, 36-yard scoring drive with a touchdown plunge from a yard out.
Shirden then saw the bulk of his carries during the second half, when the Cadets looking to control the running clock.
“We only ran as a varsity unit only 14 plays last week,” Della Vecchia said. “He hasn’t got much work. We had good throwing lanes today so we tried to run him a little in the second and get him and the line some work to get that timing down.”
It was the second week in a row that Green Knights (0-2) faced one of the top teams in the state, coming off of a 49-14 season-opening loss to No. 1 Daniel Hand.
“I’m hoping we don’t see anybody as good as these two teams,” Notre Dame head coach Joe DeCaprio said. “They’re one-two for a reason.”
Senior linebacker/fullback Mark Altieri was one of the standouts for ND on both sides of the ball, but the Green Knights did not have enough answers to solve St. Joseph’s explosive offensive looks.
“We blew some coverages obviously,” DeCaprio said. “There were kids running wide open. We have to get that corrected … Their offense is really good and we helped them out. They were all over us.”
With a running clock for the entire second half, Notre Dame did stabilize the game a bit and kept the Cadets out of the end zone — something for the Green Knights to build off of heading into next week’s showdown with Platt-Meriden (1-1) on Friday at 7 at Veterans Field.
“We made some mental mistakes on both offense and defense,” DeCaprio said. “I do love this team and this team does battle. We tried to just come out and win the third quarter when you’re down by that many.”