WESTPORT – When push came to shove for the Staples High football team, it was the senior leadership that made the plays for the Wreckers.
Up by just eight points late in the fourth quarter against a Danbury squad that wouldn’t back down, veteran quarterback Jack Massie connected with senior Will Johnson for a 28-yard score that sealed the deal for Staples.
The Wreckers withstood a scare from the Hatters as they won 43-34 Friday evening at Staples Stadium to improve to 5-1 on the season.
“Danbury has a lot of playmakers and fast kids. We gave it our all and showed how good we could play,” Massie said.
Massie had a hand in four of the Wreckers’ scores as he kept his team in the game with his legs and arm. He helped fight off a gutsy performance from Danbury (2-4) which came in with a game plan to stop the run. It was a well-orchestrated attack as they held Staples backs Patrick Lesch and Jack Greenwich in check for a majority of the evening.
Danbury took a 19-14 lead into the half, but Massie sliced and diced his way through the Hatters’ defense early in the second half and ran for a 61-yard score to give the Wreckers a 21-19 edge.
“We wanted to stop No. 25 (Patrick Lesch), we didn’t want the quarterback to carry either,” Danbury head coach Dan Donovan said. “We wanted him (Massie) to pitch it. He’s a great player, he’s been in this offense for four years and he knows it very well.”
Danbury, however, answered right back as they connected on a 29-yard field goal to take a 22-21 lead.
Staples, however, went back on top as junior Teddy Coogan returned a 70-yard kickoff for the touchdown and the eventual lead that stuck.
For Danbury, the final two quarters were a story of finishing and making the most of every opportunity.
“It comes down the same thing it’s come down to all season, execution,” Donovan said. “We can’t turn the ball over four times against Staples. I thought my kids played real hard. It just came down they executed better than we did.”
Danbury failed on four extra points and had two interceptions.
Staples outscored Danbury 15-3 in the third quarter. Johnson had an interception off a tipped pass, and then Staples capitalized on a drive as Lesch punched it in from 2-yards out to give Staples a 36-22 lead in the fourth quarter.
Despite the turnovers, Danbury received an amazing performance from quarterback Anfreny Ith. He threw for 375 yards and four scores, keeping his squad in contention.
“That’s the best game he had,” Donovan said. “”He has a tremendous arm.”
The Hatters made things interesting early and late. After Staples held the 43-28 advantage, Ith found Akim Moffitt down the sideline for the 51-yard touchdown and made it 43-34 late in the game. Staples eventually gave the ball back to Danbury with 21 ticks, but the Hatters couldn’t do anything down by nine.
Massie and Staples will receive a big test next Friday as they host undefeated New Canaan at 7 p.m. Massie explained he’s not concerned with the defensive effort shown Friday. He knows they’ll be ready to go.
“We have some things to work out. It was mostly just big plays,” he said. “It just takes focus. You can’t take a play off.”
DANBURY 7 12 3 12–34
STAPLES 14 0 15 14–43
S–Jack Massie 5 run (Mike Gifford kick)
D–Elijah Duffy 77 pass Anferny Ith (Michael Schneider kick)
S–Massie 16 run (Gifford kick)
D–Akim Moffitt 2 run (kick blocked)
D–Tyshean McCrean 7 pass Ith (kick blocked)
S–Massie 61 run (Gifford kick)
D–Schneider 29 FG
S–Teddy Coogan 80 kickoff return (Bryan Porter pass Massie)
S–Patrick Lesch 2 run (Gifford kick)
D–Pierre Moudourou 69 pass Ith (kick failed)
S–Will Johnson 28 pass Massie (Gifford kick)
D–Moffitt 51 pass Ith (kick blocked)
Records: Danbury 2-4, 2-3 FCIAC; Staples 5-1, 5-0.