Wreckers Roll Over Rival; Secure FCIAC Title

Wreckers Roll Over Rival; Secure FCIAC Title

Aaron Hendel, Sports Editor

Captain, running back and cornerback Joey Zelkowitz ’13 set an FCIAC championship game record with 318 rushing yards and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player as Staples fought off a third quarter Greenwich run to prevail 48-30 in the FCIAC Championship on Thanksgiving Day.

The win propelled Staples to No. 1 in the Class LL rankings heading into the state playoffs, which could lead to a rematch in the final against Xavier, the team that beat the Wreckers for the state title last season.

Zelkowitz, who also added an interception on Greenwich’s first offensive play, eclipsed the record in the second quarter. His three touchdowns alone combined for 141 yards.

Also noteworthy for the Wreckers was quarterback Jack Massie ’14, who finished with two scores despite a tough day. Massie threw for a touchdown to receiver and corner Captain James Frusciante ’13 and ran 45 yards for another, converting a crucial fourth-and-one play late in the game.

Alex McMurray ‘13 led the way for the Cardinals, pounding it in for three scores.

Yet all of this did not culminate in a truly successful game for the Wreckers. Instead, they endured their closest bout since last Thanksgiving, when tight end Peter Bonenfant ’12 caught the winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes remaining to beat a similar Greenwich squad for the conference title. Special teams mistakes presented the greatest challenges, such as multiple botched kickoffs and punts, a missed extra point, and a play that allowed return man Austin Longi of Greenwich to bring a squib kick back to the house.

Reflecting on those errors, left tackle Nick Ward ‘14 said, “I thought the team played well as a whole, although there were some mental mistakes at times.”

However, the biggest play of the game came when Greenwich was stopped short on a fourth-and-sixteen, as linebacker Captain Kevin Kearney ’13 tackled McMurray well short of the first down marker, setting up Massie’s touchdown scamper on the following Staples possession.

Captain Nick Kelly ‘13 credits his experienced teammates with the third quarter turnaround. Apart from Massie, Ward and safety Jake Melnick ’15, every Wrecker offensive and defensive starter was a senior. “We were able to stay calm,” Kelly said.

The Wreckers open up the state playoff tournament on Tues., Nov. 27 with a 6:30 p.m. home game against West Haven. The team has one goal in mind: “To have another chance to make it to the state championship game,” Ward said.

At least for now, though, no one wants to get caught looking ahead.

“We’ve played some great football thus far ,and we just need to take it one game at time, like we have the entire season, beginning with West Haven,” linebacker Brian Book ’13 said.