NORWALK, Conn. – Sometime after Brien McMahon High School’s Thanksgiving Day football game against Norwalk High School, Senators coach A.J. Albano will reflect on the 2012 season. But for now, the only concern he has is finding a way to beat the Bears in the annual battle for the Sam Testa Trophy.
“The approach I’m taking is we’re 0-0, and we’re trying to get to 1-0,’’ said Albano, whose team brings a 5-4 record into the game, which kicks off at Norwalk at 10:30 a.m. “I was part of this rivalry as a player and have followed it closely even when I wasn’t coaching here. I know anything can happen. I know our record, and Norwalk’s record, and we’re throwing them out. After the game we’ll sit down and look at the season and see a few high points and a few low points. We’re approaching it like any other game.”
Norwalk (2-6) has won the last two meetings in the rivalry. But McMahon has been better this season, winning three of its last four games. The Senators steamrolled Stamford High School last week, 47-26, behind running back Kyle Jordan, who rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns.
Albano said the senior’s big game was just four yards away from the school record. “We’re going to look at the film in the off season and measure every yard,’’ Albano said. And he is just 70 yards from surpassing 1,000 for the season.
“Kyle is a phenomenal player,’’ Albano said. “As great a runner as he is, he works hard for it. Sometimes you see players that go on natural talent. When you see him in the weight room, he’s the hardest worker we have. There have been several points this season where I’ve told him, ‘Listen, we’re jumping on your back.’ He’s done that and he gets those hard inside yards. That performance against Stamford is an historic one. It was one of the best in McMahon history.”
Albano said senior captains Jordan, Andrew Rodriguez, Danny O’Brien and Drew D’Antonio have been key in helping McMahon’s solid season. The Senators slipped to 2-3 after a loss to Wilton High School on Oct. 13, and the team could have played out the string. Instead, it rallied and has beaten Fairfield Ludlowe, Ridgefield and Stamford high schools in the last month. Its only loss in the last four weeks was 49-14 to undefeated Greenwich High School.
“Those kids have led us in the right direction, and I hope our juniors have been taking notes,’’ Albano said. “I attribute this team’s resolve to those senior leaders.”
A victory over Norwalk would make the Senators 6-4, matching the record of Albano’s first year. More important, it would give the Senators a nice head of steam into the off-season. Since a lot of underclassmen played significant roles this fall, McMahon could be set up for a big year in 2013. Albano will begin to think about that after Thursday’s game.
“Maybe at Thanksgiving dinner, or after the banquet, I’ll reflect on 2012 and look at 2013,’’ Albano said. “But right now our minds are on Norwalk. If we take care of the little things, the rest of the things will take care of themselves.”
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