GREENWICH, Conn. For the first time since early in the 2010 season, the Greenwich High School football team had all the pieces in place on Thursday night against Trumbull. The Cardinals struggled to put their best players on the field throughout last season, and the injury bug bit again early this season, with starting quarterback Liam ONeil lost to a concussion in the preseason.
That all changed in one dominant evening. ONeil returned. The defense returned. The running game returned.
Or as Cardinals safety Tim Swaby said after a 36-12 trouncing of the Golden Eagles, Greenwich has its swagger back.
The Cardinals took advantage of every Trumbull mistake and the mistakes were plentiful on the Eagles side. Trumbulls star running back Don Cherry rushed for more than 100 yards but coughed up the ball three times. Eagles quarterback Nick Roberts was picked off twice. Greenwich special teams got in on the act as well, blocking a punt attempt for a safety and a point-after kick.
While Trumbull stumbled, the Cardinals embraced their gift possessions and took off. Greenwich rushed for 205 yards as a team, including 121 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns from senior running back Shane Nastahowski.
Even more encouraging for Greenwich was ONeils first start of the regular season. The senior quarterback went 8-for-16 on 197 yards passing with a touchdown. After getting walloped on a sack late in the first half, ONeil took it easy and let the run game do the work in the final two quarters.
Every time Trumbull got within striking distance, the Eagles turned it over. Trumbulls only touchdown was caught only because Taylor Olmstead tipped the ball into the arms of a surprised Eagles receiver.
Greenwichs defense turned the screws in the second half, holding Trumbull to just 33 yards of total offense in the final 24 minutes.
We had an empty spot without Liam and it just felt great to have him back, Nastahowski said. In practice, the defense focuses on turning the ball over. We still had a few errors, but if we can limit that we can be that Greenwich football team everyone knows again.
Greenwich (3-0 FCIAC, 3-1 overall) hosts winless Fairfield Ludlowe next Friday at 7 p.m.
Game notes: Kicker Jesse Adelberg hit a pair of field goals from 25 and 28 yards out in addition to being perfect on point-after attempts. The Trumbull High School scoreboard was out of order, making it an interesting evening of keeping track of the time and score. Greenwich also fumbled three times but recovered every one of them.
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