Though it’s 8-0 and is ranked second in the state, the Greenwich High School football team certainly isn’t resting on its laurels.
The Cardinals are well aware of the tough challenges ahead of them, one of which is in the form of Xavier on Thursday.
Greenwich puts its undefeated record on the line when its faces Xavier Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at West Haven High School. The non-conference matchup marks the season-finale for the Falcons, who enter the game with an uncharacteristic record of 4-5.
“Their record doesn’t indicate how good a team they are,” said GHS coach John Marinelli, whose Cardinals upended Danbury, 57-7, last week on his team’s Senior Night. “They have been in some tight ballgames. If a couple of bounces went their way, they would have two or three more wins and would be a playoff contender.”
Two of the Falcons’ close losses came against Wilbur Cross (a 14-7 defeat) and North Haven, which they fell to in overtime, 50-49. Coached by Andy Guyon (first year at the helm), Xavier is coming off a 45-7 loss to West Haven. The Falcons, who have alternated wins and losses all season are led offensively by senior quarterback Will Levis — who has committed to play at Penn State University next fall. The strong-armed Levis is no doubt the focus of Greenwich’s stingy defense.
“Their quarterback is one of the most dynamic players in the state,” Marinelli said. “He is a lot of fun to watch on film, but as a coach, it’s also scary to watch him on film. He is a pocket passer and he has one of the strongest arms that we will ever see, with the ability to make that 20-yard out pass across the field. Our defense has to give him different pictures all the time, because he is really smart and he knows where to check the ball down to.”
Senior Tyrone Abrahams rushed for 97 yards in the first half of last week’s game against West Haven for Xavier and finished the matchup with 126 yards.
“He’s very shifty and he gets to the holes quickly,” Marinelli said of Abrahams. “They also rely on him a lot. They don’t run the ball a lot, but they run a lot of different formations.”
Defense is one of Greenwich’s strong suits. Averaging a robust 48.4 points per game, the Cards are allowing only 13.3 points a contest. Danbury’s only points a week ago against Greenwich came on an interception return for a touchdown.
“Our kids are excited to play defense every game and every day in practice,” Marinelli said. “Our starting defense hasn’t given up a lot of points at all. Even against New Canaan and Ridgefield, they only gave up 21 points against each team, which have great offenses.”
Junior linebacker Gramoz Bici has registered a team-high 8.5 sacks and 68 tackles, while junior linebacker Jack Feda has 63 tackles and senior linebacker Robert Lanni has 39. Defensive lineman Emilio Camou, a junior has 6.5 sacks for the Cards.
“Our coaching staff has done a great job of getting our kids ready to play defense,” Marinelli said. “It’s exciting watching them compete each game.”
Xavier has plenty to watch out for when it comes to Greenwich’s multi-faceted offense. Junior Gavin Muir is having an outstanding season with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions through eight games. Senior Jael Negron has caught 10 touchdown passes and junior Tysen Comizo has amassed 685 yards with 12 touchdowns on the ground.
“It’s scary to think that even with the points we put up we haven’t played our best football yet offensively,” Marinelli said. “Our screen game, passing game and running game haven’t really worked cohesively yet as a unit. But that’s a good sign that we’re still scoring that many points.”
Marinelli knows to expect the best Xavier has to offer on Thursday, followed by another tough battle against conference rival Staples on Thanksgiving.
“Xavier is a proud, tradition-rich program and this is their senior’s last game, so they have a lot to play for,” Marinelli said. “They’re playing the second-ranked team in the state, so this is their seniors’ opportunity to make a mark for themselves. We know it’s going to be a tough game.
Staples is also a proud program, so we have to match the intensity of both of these teams our final two regular season games. If we pass these two tests, then I feel good about our team heading into the playoffs. We have a very young team, so we will learn a lot about our players the next two games.”