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Staples football defeats West Haven, takes home first state championship in 18 years

The+Staples+Wreckers+took+down+the+West+Haven+Blue+Devils+in+the+football+Class+LL+state+championship+game.
Matthew Stashower ’25
The Staples Wreckers took down the West Haven Blue Devils in the football Class LL state championship game.

Staples football took home its first Class LL state championship since 2005 when they beat the West Haven Blue Devils 21-20 on Dec. 9. Max Maurillo ’24 made a game saving tackle on West Haven’s Armani Reid on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:13 remaining to preserve the lead. 

We told Maurillo to sit on the slant and read the QB’s shoulder intent,” Associate Head Coach Matty Jacowleff said. “Max was supposed to be the person who made a play if they threw it inside but his otherworldly effort allowed him to make the tackle on the outside. It was not coaching, it was Max’s heart and a refusal to let his teammates and program down.

In the first half, the Wreckers relied mostly on rushing. They didn’t find much success on the offensive end outside of a 56-yard run by Alex Fiala ’24, which was followed up by a quarterback run by Caleb Smith ’24 for the touchdown. One of the only pass attempts by Smith in the first half resulted in an interception. 

The second half was a different story. Smith found his brother – Nathan Smith ’25 – and star receiver Sam Petrosino ’24 on several key throws to set the Wreckers up down-field on drives that would ultimately end with rushing touchdowns by Caleb Smith. Smith ran for all three of Staples touchdowns and finished the game with 97 rushing yards.

“Max was supposed to be the person who made a play if they threw it inside but his otherworldly effort allowed him to make the tackle on the outside. It was not coaching, it was Max’s heart and a refusal to let his teammates and program down.”

— Associate Head Coach Matty Jacowleff

The Wreckers defense also improved from the first half, holding the Blue Devils to just 6 points in the second half, after allowing 14 in the first. A big reason for the improvement was the increased coverage on Armani Reid, West Haven’s star receiver. Reid got injured twice on the final possession, but made it back in after serving short stints on the sideline. Kody Goldman ’25, who led the team with three tackles for a loss on the day, attributes the success on defense to the whole unit.

“Everyone was all in and did whatever it takes to achieve a common goal,” Goldman said. “Our team embraced discomfort when others would take the easy way out. Being the best version of ourselves all the time, especially when things get difficult.”

According to Gametime CT, the 12-1 Wreckers are now ranked number one in the state for the first time since 1975, after avenging their only loss of the season which came against West Haven at the start of the year. This is Staples’ fourth ever state title and first in 18 years. 

West Haven, finishing at 10-3, still had one of their best seasons in school history, making an appearance in the state final for the first time since 2003 in what was an incredibly tragic week for the team after a member, Christopher Fidalgo-Pugh, passed away unexpectedly. His family told WTNH that he had been sick.

Ultimately, Jacowleff isn’t surprised Staples got that two-point conversion stop, as he knew the moment wouldn’t be too big to handle for the Wreckers defense.

“Our guys were never going to allow us to fall short,” Jacowleff said. “I knew they were present at that moment and the moment wasn’t too big. We have winners, we have champions, and our guys are the moment. For the rest of their lives, they will be champions and winners in any and everything they choose to do in life. This will not be the pinnacle of their existence. I am so excited to see what they accomplish.”

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About the Contributor
Matthew Stashower ’25, Paper Sports Editor
Paper Sports Editor, Matthew Stashower ’25 has been interested in journalism and sports for as long as he can remember. A loyal Yankees fan, Stashower’s passion for sports was ignited by watching baseball with his dad. In combining two of his greatest interests, Stashower became involved with journalism to foster his love for sports. “I remember doing journalism in elementary school which sparked the interest, then in middle school I joined Ursus and wrote a lot of sports articles,” Stashower said. Stashower knew he wanted to continue pursuing journalism and immediately enrolled in Intro to Journalism, kick-starting his Inklings career. 

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