WESTPORT — Clinging to just a one point lead at the half Friday night against Fairfield Ludlowe, the Staples High football team needed a wake up call. But head coach Marce Petroccio wasn’t the one to deliver the fiery speech. Instead it was senior Jack Greenwald.
“At halftime I didn’t have to say anything,” Petroccio said with smile. “Jack Greenwald said it all.”
The Wreckers came out with a dominant second half performance outscoring the Falcons 35-7, as they improved to 4-1 on the season with a 52-23 victory at Staples Stadium.
Staples relied upon its solid rushing attack to create separation in the final two quarters. The duo of Patrick Lesch and Greenwald wore down Ludlowe, who was playing without two of its starters. Lesch finished the evening with three touchdowns and 135 yards. Greenwald added one score and finished with 106 yards rushing.
“It’s huge to have two great running backs like that,” teammate Will Johnson said of Lesch and Greenwald.
Added Petroccio: “I think we knew we could run the ball on them (Ludlowe). And that’s what we did for the whole second half…we just kind of went right at them.”
While the two seniors back did their job slicing through the Falcons’ defense, it was the play of Johnson that ultimately turned things around for the Wreckers in the third quarter.
After an unproductive opening drive, the Falcons were forced to punt. Johnson corralled the ball and then took off down the left side of the field making a few defenders miss, supported by some great blocks, he went 75 yards for the score and gave his team the 24-16 advantage.
“I saw one guy and tried to make him miss and there were some good hard blocks and I was able to make some moves and score,” Johnson said.
Added Petroccio: “He lit the match. Will Johnson he’s a special kid. We needed that bad. It kind of opened up the flood gates.”
Staples took over from there. Ludlowe fumbled the snap on its next drive and the Wreckers recovered. Lesch punched it in a few plays later and Staples lead 31-16.
The Wreckers’ offense added three more scores as senior quarterback Jack Massie connected with Jake Melnick (who also had an interception) on a 42-yard play, and then Greenwald and Teddy Coogan each found the end zone.
For Ludlowe (3-2), the second half was a story of turnovers. The Falcons accumulated three in the second half and were moved back on a few drives.
“They are a good, solid, very disciplined team and we didn’t play assignment football as well as we needed to,” Ludlowe first-year head coach Vincent Camera said.
“We won the turnover battle in the first half …in the second half they won the turnover battle.”
The Falcons had Staples on the ropes in the first 24 minutes of the game. After taking a 3-0 lead off a 38 yard field goal from Charlie Kottler, the defense and senior dual-threat quarterback Matt White kept Ludlowe even with the Wreckers.
The Falcons collected two interceptions, including a pick six and White added a 28 yard keeper in the first half.
“He’s (White) a heck of an athlete,” Petroccio said. “That program is on its way up. They did a great job.”
Defensively for the Wreckers, Petroccio said it’s been frustrating getting off to slow starts and having to use a big second half to pull away.
Staples will host Danbury next Friday evening.