Greenwich High, Brunswick football teams excited to be back on the practice field

The Greenwich High School and Brunswick School football teams are back on the gridiron, which is music to the ears of all the players and coaches for the two programs.

“The kids are troopers,” Greenwich High head coach Rich Albonizio said. “It’s good to have them back on the field. It’s like being away from your family and finally you’re back with them. These kids are fun to be around. They do what they are told to. There’s not really a difference in the way they are practicing now than they were practicing two weeks ago. They show up all the time and practice hard.”

When Hurricane Sandy came through the tri-state area last week, it left behind devastation. Homes were damaged, streets were flooded, trees were ripped out of the ground and power was out everywhere. Fall athletics were obviously put on hold for the week.

With streets being cleared and power being restored, both teams were more than excited to get back on the practice field at their respective schools and gear up for a football game.

“It’s always good to have some normalcy and getting back into the swing of things,” Brunswick head coach Jarrett Shine said. “We had some optional practices Friday and Saturday where a few kids showed up. The kids are definitely ready to get back to practice and get ready for Trinity-Pawling this weekend.”

“It’s definitely great for us to get back on the field,” Greenwich High School senior captain Taylor Olmstead said. “It was great to have some time off. However, I wish it was in better circumstances. We got everybody healthy and ready to go and play our game. It feels great to be healthy and to get back to work and work towards our ultimate goal of an FCIAC and state championship.”

While the Bruins and Cards have a healthy rivalry, both are saying that the storm brought their respective teams together more as a family.

“Some of the kids have taken in other families of teammates,” Albonizio said. “Kids with power have taken in families on the team that don’t have power. That is refreshing and that’s what community is all about. The whole community in Greenwich is like that — however, it’s really nice to see when it touches the people you’re around a lot.”

“We always preach being a family at Brunswick from the very beginning of the season,” Shine said. “In any situation that occurs, I hope the guys pull together and become a close-knit family.”

GHS senior running back Alex McMurray said that all the players were trying to call each other to make sure no one was in harm’s way.

“We are a family here,” McMurray said. “If one of us is in trouble, we have to help them and make sure everybody was OK. That’s what a family does.”

Olmstead agrees.

“It makes it more close as a team,” Olmstead said. “Friends are helping other friends out, taking each other in and are making sure everybody is OK. It made us closer as a team and brought us together as a family that much more.”

Brunswick senior captain Dylan Wadsworth couldn’t wait to return to Cosby Field. Still without power as of press time, Wadsworth said that preparing for Saturday’s game provides a nice distraction.

“It was crazy,” Wadsworth said. “It’s nice to be back with the team. We are a family here, so seeing us all back together is great. Getting back to something more normal will definitely help us for the game on Saturday. Hopefully on Saturday we can get everybody to our game and enjoy some time together and enjoy the distraction from what went on.”

Both Brunswick’s and Greenwich’s schedules were affected by Sandy.

Greenwich High was supposed to battle McMahon last Friday and then host Danbury High a week later. However, Sandy postponed the game against the Senators until tomorrow at 6. To make up for the game against the Hatters, GHS will host Danbury a week from today.

“We need to come out intense,” McMurray said. “We know McMahon is a good team and anybody could beat us in this league. We need to come out with the same intensity that we did the first week of the season. We’ve been doing that against everybody and that’s why we are undefeated.”

“We take every game one game at a time and don’t take anybody lightly,” Olmstead said. “We have been preparing extremely well for McMahon. They just came off a big win, but our offense and defense are looking really good. Everybody is working hard every day to get ready for the game.”

Although Kendrick Pozo is still lost for tomorrow’s game due to a concussion, Albonizio is hopeful that tackle Nick Spano will return in time to battle McMahon.

“We’ve had kids that have nursed hamstring pulls and the week off really helped them,” Albonizio said. “We spend most of the time in practice working on everything. Our kids have seen almost every offense and just about every defense. We are prepared for everything. We just want to get better. We are concerned with all our opponents in the same manner. We just evaluate ourselves and try to fix what we feel needs to be fixed.”

The Bruins were forced to cancel their game against longtime rival Hopkins School. On Saturday at 2:30, Brunswick will hit Cosby Field and take on Trinity-Pawling School in what could be the team’s final game of the season.

“They are really looking forward to the game,” Shine said. “There are times where we play with a lot of passion and intensity and that’s exactly what we need to do against Trinity. We also need to execute better. I don’t think we did that against Salisbury, but we are going to have a different plan of attack. Hopefully we will be solid this week. Knowing that this could be the closure to the season, the team will give me everything they have.”

With a week of zero practices and not a lot of time to prepare for the regular season resuming, it’s easy to say that teams could be a little rusty or their timing could be a bit off.

However, both Greenwich High and Brunswick are used to changing things up this season.

“You never really know how kids are going to respond to certain adversities, but two weeks ago we changed practice up a little bit and changed the routine,” Shine said. “That worked in our favor because we played with a little more passion and intensity. Having a bye week is nice and hopefully the kids will have their legs back and all the aches and pains will go away.”

“We had a bye week earlier in the season, so it’s almost like having that again,” Albonizio said. “However, in the last bye week, we were able to make a schedule. This one here we didn’t practice for a week. I am nervous about the rust and timing, but not really as well. Everybody is in the same situation. It’s no different for us.”

Although the routines have been shattered for both teams, both head coaches are confident that they’ll be ready when the season resumes.

“Some times you worry about the focus of the players, so hopefully this week they will be ready to go because they missed a week and are ready to go,” Shine said. “Hopefully they will bring a different mentality to practice and that will transfer over to the game.”

“They’ve responded in every way we’ve hoped in all their games so far,” Albonizio said. “I don’t think there will be much difference. With have some very good senior leadership. They practice hard and set a great example.”

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