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Staples rides defense to FCIAC title game

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Offense may win games, but Staples coach is a proponent of the theory that defense wins championships.

While the Staples offense has rolled up 338 points in just nine games this season, he is more impressed with his defense.

Staples has allowed just 25 points. And since allowing a third quarter touchdown to Trinity Catholic running back on the opening Friday of the season, the Wreckers’ starting defense has not allowed a point.

“Cornerstone of our program has always been our defense,” said Petroccio, the 17th year coach who has guided the Wreckers to their first FCIAC championship game appearance since 2005, a meeting tonight at 7:30 at Trumbull against Central. “I don’t think you can have a championship caliber team without playing good defense.”

Last season, when Staples limped to the finish line with a 6 5 record after a 5 1 start, the defense was loaded with individuals, Petroccio said.

The sting of the program not playing football after Thanksgiving for the first time since 2002 set in quickly, And in order to get back to the postseason, Petroccio said the team understood it needed to take a team first concept.

“They’re unselfish,” Petroccio said. “There’s no egos, no agendas, nobody cares where they’re going, they just care where they are.”

That’s caused the Wreckers to fly under the radar despite their 9 0 record and miniscule 2.7 ppg average. Cheap Jerseys china If it wasn’t for the names on the back of the jerseys, the Wreckers might be completely unidentifiable.

“They’re anonymous, and I think that’s how they like it,” Petroccio said. “They’re a group that is more about the goal of winning versus any selfish reasons. They don’t care who gets All FCIAC, they just want to stop people and win.”

Senior linebacker may be the most known name on the Staples defense, thanks to two interception returns for touchdowns Sept. 26 against Norwalk. He leads the team with 76 tackles.

Santora has five interceptions this season. So does Brendan Rankowitz, a third year starter at cornerback.

The Wreckers have done very well against the pass. They have intercepted 22 passes, and have sacked the quarterback 36 times. , a junior, has 13 of Staples’ sacks, while senior defensive lineman , a second year starter, has eight.

But as well as Staples’s pass defense has been this season, Petroccio says Central could cause the Wreckers fits.

That’s because the Hilltoppers can run the ball.

“They can run the ball, and that’s what they want to do,” Petroccio said. “We don’t see a lot of teams like that anymore, so we are going to be severely challenged to say the least.”

Central coach said it’s going to be very tough to exploit the Staples defense.

But Cadelina is also hoping his team, which has scored 328 point this season, including 42 in a victory over top ranked New Canaan last week, will be able to establish something on offense.

Behind a big, athletic offensive line, Central will give the ball to Shabashe McIntosh or Lucas Desouza on the jet sweep, or quarterback can keep the ball or hand it to fullback and follow the wedge.

Central has racked up 1,823 yards on the ground, and had more than 300 yards of total offense against New Canaan.

“We’re a running football team, but we’re going to need to establish the pass or they’ll just throw eight or nine guys in the box,” Cadelina said.

Central can pass the ball, too. Desouza and McIntosh have both been deep threats in a spread formation, and Gill also has a favorite receiver in split end Sean Mansfield.

Gill, a Division I prospect, also runs the option effectively, making life even more complicated for Staples.

As for trying to trick the Staples defense, Cadelina says he’s not going to try anything out of the ordinary.

“Being a team that’s got to the postseason and lost in the past, I learned a few lessons along the way,” Cadelina said. “You’ve got to do what’s got you there, and don’t try to do anything too fancy.”

Ridgefield has gone against both teams this season. The Tigers scrimmaged Central in the preseason, and were shut out 30 0 by Staples in a Week 3 game that effectively took away any chance 8 1 Ridgefield had of playing in the FCIAC final.

Ridgefield coach says Staples will not have an easy task stopping Central’s athletic, physical offense.

“Central can pack the box and push people around, or they can spread it out and run from sideline to sideline,” Callahan said. “You’re not sure what they are going to do, and they will try to counterpunch whatever Staples tries to take away. It will be a real chess match because both teams are very talented.”

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May 9th, 2011 at 8:42 am

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