Staples Football Season in Review

After facing great adversity throughout the season, the Staples Wreckers finished the 2010 campaign as one of the best teams in the state of Connecticut. | Photo courtesy of

Ryan Burke ’11 walked onto the football field for the Wreckers’ first scrimmage of the season. Instead of playing in the game, however, he’d be on the sidelines playing the role of a coach.

“The first time I stepped onto the field in Cheshire for our first scrimmage of the season, it was impossible to stay calm,” Burke said. “Every game I wanted to go back out onto the field. I would joke around with some of the sophomores during the game and tell them I was going to suit up in their uniforms during halftime.”

Burke, of course, had suffered a torn ACL in the spring game, which sidelined him for the entire upcoming season.

Losing Burke, though, was the least of the team’s problems. The Wreckers had time to adjust to that change with all of the summer and fall practice remaining to readjust its strategy.The offense would use a dual-back system with Tyler Jacobs ’11 and Jon Heil ’12. Jacobs ended up having a monster year, tearing it up on offense, but really showed his greatness on defense.

During the homecoming win against Ludlowe, the Staples defense intercepted eight Falcons’ passes.Jacobs had four of those.

“There was no surprise that Tyler had the type of season he had. We are talking about one of the most athletic kids in the entire school here; he literally plays every position. Not only did he fill my shoes, but he filled in for Chet, too. I don’t know any athletes who can do that, hes a freak,” Burke said.

Patrick Murray ’11, the Yale-bound defensive end agrees, “I was impressed with the way everyone stepped up when Chet and Burke went down. Tyler did it all at running back, defensive back and even quarterback. He was probably the MVP of the team this year,” Murray said.

However, that headline was overshadowed once Staples realized the weight of what had just happened. Chester Pajolek ’11, the teams starting quarterback, was lost to another ACL injury. This would be the third Wrecker sidelined with such an injury, the other being Nick Kelly ’13.

In to replace Pajolek was Jack Massie ’14, the first freshman to make the varsity squad since 1999. Massie ended up having a solid year. The new starting quarterback led the Wreckers down the field on two potentially game tying drives.

“What Massie did this year as a freshman is something that no other freshman quarterback has done at Staples. He’s going to have a great career at Staples and the seniors are very thankful for what he did for us this season,” Murray said.

Last year’s team found itself as the FCIAC champions along with an opportunity to play in the state title game. However, this year, neither of those games featured Staples.

“It was definitely a huge surprise to us that we didn’t make the FCIAC or State Finals, we definitely had the talent to do it, things just didn’t fall our way,” said Pajolek. “I mean we were a two point conversion away in both games, literally four yards from being undefeated.”

Although the team didn’t make it to either of those games, it was truly a memorable season, most of the seniors agree that beating Greenwich was the resonating moment of the year. Others said Glastonbury, and a few said Homecoming, but it was impossible to forget winning that cherished rivalry game between the Wreckers and the Cardinals.

However, what Murray said he’ll miss most about this Wreckers team is “Mike Nicklas’ locker room dancing.” It just exemplifies the comradeship that this team had on and off the field, and even though a 9-2 record isn’t championship caliber, this team succeeded where it mattered. And that’s exactly what it is all about, the Wreckers this year were great at being a team.