STAMFORD—The third time was again the charm for the Stamford football team.
The Frank Robotti and Paul Kuczo Trophies will remain prominently in the Stamford High School athletic trophy case as the Black Knights posted a 26-14 Thanksgiving Day triumph over intracity rival Westhill at J. Walter Kennedy Stadium.
It was the third consecutive season that Stamford (4-6 overall) emerged victorious over Westhill. The win also gave Stamford a 4-3 edge after the Fall sports season over Westhill in the year-long City Cup athletic competition between the schools.
“It’s always good to end a football season with a Stamford city football championship. The kids understand we want to be known as the best football team in the city,” said Stamford coach Jamar Greene. “This is nice. Our next goal going forward is to qualify for the state playoffs.”
Stamford made the important plays when it had to in order to earn its season-closing victory before a sellout crowd at Westhill’s field on what became a very windy day.
Despite the officials throwing penalty flags on nearly every play, Stamford marched 95 yards in 15 plays for a 6-0 edge early in the second quarter.
Passes of 32 and 21 yards from Stamford quarterback Isaiah Johnson to fellow senior Tyriq Deveaux fueled the drive.
“Most of the 18 seniors have been together all our lives. It hurts that our high school football careers are over. We wanted this last game to be very special,” said Deveaux, who had five receptions for 84 yards. “The bottom line was our skill position guys were too fast and too quick for Westhill.”
Stamford did damage through the air on catch and run passes. SHS QB Johnson completed 14 of 25 passes for 213 yards with two interceptions.
The Black Knights controlled possession on the ground in the second half. Led by senior Terrence Mapp (23 carries, 114 yards, two TDs, 77 yards in 2nd half), Stamford amassed 187 yards rushing on 36 carries to wear down a stubborn Westhill defense.
Stamford took command for good in the final minute of the third quarter.
Westhill had just forced and recovered a Stamford fumble at the Vikings 26.
Trailing 12-6, Westhill went to a trick play. A potential end around turned into a flea flicker pass play with Westhill quarterback Matt O’Connor on the move trying to avoid the SHS pass rush.
The ensuing throw was intercepted at the Westhill 30 by Stamford’s Kevin Salvatore, who quickly returned it to the end zone for a TD and 18-6 with 1:05 left in the third period.
A solid punt return – with a facemask penalty tacked on – gave Westhill its best starting position of the day at the SHS 42 with 6:35 to go.
A 43-yard pass connection from O’Connor (13 of 28, 133 yards) to Ryder Kurtz was followed by a four-yard TD pass to senior Sam Edouard. A two-point pass to Jack Engel brought Westhill to 18-14 with 4:48 to go.
But Westhill (1-9 overall) couldn’t get the ball back. A 27-yard pass from Johnson to Danny Simms on third down and seven was demoralizing. Mapp scored from one yard out for 26-14 with 1:01 left.
PLAYER OF GAME
Stamford senior running back Terrence Mapp: He finished the day with 114 yards rushing on 23 carries and two touchdowns. Mapp had 11 carries for 77 yards in the second half and five carries for 41 yards on Stamford’s final nine-play, 65-yard TD drive.
“Win or lose, I know I have good guys. I hold our kids accountable for everything,” Westhill coach Joe Devellis said. “It’s a shame not every school has the same high standards. If we are a united city trying to prepare good kids for life. Then all need to be accountable. I’ll take a 1-9 record with the group of kids I have. I will play any team anywhere in the state because I know I have good kids.”