HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL Cardinals crush Eagles in opener
GREENWICH — During the preseason, Greenwich High School football coach John Marinelli mentioned AJ Barber as a receiver capable of stepping up and making plays.
Well, Marinelli was right on in his assessment.
Barber, a sophomore, helped set the tone of the Cardinals’ season-opener against Trumbull, catching three touchdowns from quarterback Gavin Muir in the first half.
Those three receptions, coupled by Ryan Raybuck’s interception return for a touchdown sparked Greenwich to a 42-7 win over FCIAC foe Trumbull in the season-opening game for both squads.
Muir threw three touchdown passes, and the defense stepped up for the Cardinals, who entered halftime with a 28-7 lead.
Saturday’s showdown marked the coaching debut at Trumbull for veteran coach Marce Petroccio, who previously walked the sideline at Staples for numerous seasons. Eagles senior quarterback Colton Nicholas threw a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Kyle Atherton for Trumbull’s first-half score.
The matchup was penalty-filled, with both teams whistled for infractions throughout the first half. Greenwich was charged with an astounding 14 penalties for 120 yards, while Trumbull was hit with eight for 65 yards in the first half alone. It was also a half full of touchdowns for the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Barber.
Greenwich drove 61 yards in six plays on the game’s opening possession, which was ended by a 39-yard touchdown reception by Barber, on a play involving some trickery. Lining up in the wildcat, senior running back Tysen Comizio tossed the ball back to Muir, who lofted a perfect pass to Barber, who got behind an Eagles defender for a touchdown 1 minute, 33 seconds into the first quarter.
Aided by six Greenwich penalties, Trumbull drove 75 yards on opening possession for a score. Nicholas’ 20-yard pass in the right corner of the zone was caught by Atherton, who ran a go-route on the play, and evened the score with 6:39 to go in the first quarter.
Greenwich took the lead for good when Muir completed a pass to Barber in the right flat for a 9-yard scoring strike with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter. Ben Howarth converted the point-after attempt, giving the Cardinals a 14-7 advantage. Muir’s completions to Stephen Bennett (11 yards) and Lance Large (9 yards) helped key the drive.
The Cardinals extended their lead in the second quarter by getting defensive. With Trumbull on the move, Raybuck, a senior cornerback, intercepted Nicholas’ pass on the left sideline and showcased his speed, sprinting 53 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, putting the Cardinals on top, 21-7 with 4:03 left in the second quarter.
Recovering an onsides kick, Greenwich was in business again, taking over at the Trumbull 46-yard line. Three runs netting 20 yards by Comizio put the Cards in the red zone and the drive was capped when Muir tossed a 1-yard pass for a score to Barber at the 1:34 mark of the second quarter.
Large got behind the Eagles’ secondary and snared a 34-yard pass by Muir, setting the home team up on Trumbull’s 14-yard line on their first possession of the second half. Following a 10-yard run by junior Jack Warren, Comizio ran it into the end zone from four yards out, giving Greenwich a commanding 35-7 advantage.
Meanwhile, Greenwich’s defensive line and linebackers imposed their will from late in the first quarter on. Senior defensive end Emiliou Camou, linebacker Jack Feda (senior) and Ben Kraninger each sacked Nicholas, while senior lineman Mozi Bici was active on defense throughout.
Prior to Saturday’s game the new scoreboard at Cardinal Stadium was dedicated. The scoreboard/videoboard, which was installed thanks to the Greenwich Athletic Foundation, provided a live feed of the game on its sizable screen throughout the game. … The game, which was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., started at 4:15 p.m. … Senior defensive back Dan Arganese intercepted a pass for Trumbull. .. Raybuck added a second interception on the first play of the fourth quarter for Greenwich. … Warren scored on a 1-yard plunge late in the third quarter for GHS.