Greenwich football blitzes Danbury, ready to lock horns with Staples on Thanksgiving

The waiting is over for the Greenwich High School football team.

After taking things one game at a time, week after week, the Cardinals are finally able to gear up for the Thanksgiving Day game that was circled on their calendars from the moment the 2012 schedule came out.

Big Red dominated Danbury High School from start to finish yesterday. They built a 41-0 lead at the half cruised the rest of the way to a 54-8 victory on Senior Night at Cardinal Stadium.

“I feel very good and the kids played well,” Greenwich head coach Rich Albonizio said. “We had some misreads in the first half. We had some kids that were open. Some times I think we are playing bad and I look up at the scoreboard and it’s 48-0.”

Alex McMurray scored twice in the first quarter to lead Big Red, as he found the end zone from five yards out and from 11 yards respectively. Nick Schepis netted a touchdown on a 35-yard rush and Dan Claroni hit the end zone on a five-yard run.

Greenwich High quarterback Liam O’Neil did his best to impress on senior night, going 8-for-12 for 164 yards and a touchdown.

“We hung 41 up in the first half and I didn’t play in the second half, but Austin Longi provided some explosive plays for us, our receivers made some tremendous plays again and the line held up. We established the run early on, which is something that we have been missing the past few game.”

One of O’Neil’s key targets in the game was Joe Kelly. The duo struck gold early in the second quarter, as O’Neil stepped back and hit Kelly in stride down the Danbury sideline. Kelly sprinted the rest of the way to finish the 45-yard touchdown strike.

After Kelly’s touchdown, it was the Greenwich defense and special teams that got into the act, led by Austin Longi. The GHS sophomore stepped in front of Danbury quarterback Elijah Duffy’s pass, eluded two tackles and sprinted down the field for the 46-yard touchdown.

Longi wasn’t done. With Danbury pinned deep in their zone and forced to punt, Longi gained possession of the ball and returned the punt 38 yards untouched for the touchdown.

Not to be outdone was senior Taylor Olmstead. With the Hatters threatening to get on the scoreboard, Olmstead picked off Duffy and ran 97 yards down the GHS sideline for the touchdown.

“This feels great,” Olmstead said. “We knew this game was going to be huge game for us to lock up states and FCIACs. We came out strong, took it one day at a time, worked hard all week and came out and played well today.”

Danbury’s only other chance to score happened midway through the first quarter, as the Hatters found themselves on Greenwich’s 11-yard line were threatening to find the end zone. However, GHS junior Jack Harrington wouldn’t be denied, as he batted down the ball on fourth down and forced Danbury to turn the ball over on downs.

The night’s only drama came early in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Nick Schepis had a nice run for 35 yards found the end zone on the play. However the touchdown pushed the score to 54-0 and putting Greenwich in the spotlight for the CIAC’s 50-point rule.

Fearing that Albonizio could be suspended for the team’s biggest game of the year on Thanksgiving Day, the Cardinals allowed Danbury’s Tysheen McCrea to take the ensuing kickoff and run it back for a touchdown.

With last night’s victory over Danbury High School, Big Red (8-0 FCIAC, 8-0 overall) officially punched its ticket for a return trip to the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference title and they will be looking for some revenge against the high-powered Staples High School Wreckers.

“We’ve had Staples circled on the calendar ever since last year,” O’Neil said. “The day after Thanksgiving, Joe Kelly and I just worked out because we were so frustrated. They are a good team and I know how talented they are, but we’re not going to fear anybody.”

To read more about the Danbury game and to also read a preview on the Staples football game on Thanksgiving Day, check out Wednesday’s Greenwich Post.

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