WESTPORT, Conn. – Football teams talk frequently about capitalizing on opportunities inside the “red zone,” the area of the field inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. But Staples High School's football team, as it showed again in Tuesday’s 42-20 win over West Haven High School, can strike from anywhere on the field.
The Wreckers had four scoring plays of 40 or more yards in the Class LL football playoff game, including three long touchdown passes from quarterback Jack Massie to wide receiver James Frusciante. On its first two offensive plays from scrimmage, Staples scored on a 60-yard pass from Massie to Frusciante and a 92-yard run by Nick Kelly.
“We knew what play we were going to call when we came out,’’ Staples coach Marce Petroccio said of the first touchdown, in which Frusciante took a short pass, shook off a defender and raced down the sideline and into the end zone. “They kind of bit and hit it. Two plays, two touchdowns right off the bat. That’s a very good West Haven team. I’m proud of the way the kids played.”
Staples’ big plays on Tuesday reflected its season-long tendency to capitalize on the opponent’s smallest mistake. The Wreckers have had 35 scoring plays of 30 yards or longer, in all sorts of situations. There have been 21 scoring runs of more than 30 yards for touchdowns, and nine pass plays. But there have also been three interception returns, a punt return and a kickoff return. With their team speed, the Wreckers can strike from anywhere at any time.
“We wanted to come out with a balanced attack,’’ said Frusciante, who has caught nine touchdown passes. “When we do that, the passing and running game really work off of each other. The offense was really clicking tonight.”
Staples rolled to a 35-0 lead in the first half against West Haven, illustrating another Wrecker trend. Staples has outscored teams 324-48 in the first 30 minutes of games this season before Petroccio takes his foot off the gas and substitutes frequently in the second half.
Staples also played well defensively in Tuesday’s win, turning back the Blue Devils when they moved inside the Staples 10-yard line after Frusciante’s first touchdown. Staples got the ball back and Kelly raced 92 yards for a 14-0 lead.
They are two wins from the first state title since 2005, but the way the Wreckers can strike, it’s hard to see anybody stopping them now.
“It’s great,’’ Frusciante said about reaching the semifinals. “We just want to take it one game at a time. We can’t wait to get back on the field.”
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