FAIRFIELD — Gavin Muir stared at the Sacred Heart University scoreboard, looking proudly at the Greenwich football team’s point total following a 70-16 win over Trumbull this afternoon.
It was a source of pride for Muir, the Cardinals’ quarterback, an affirmation of how preseason repetitions led to fine execution. Still, it was more difficult to get Muir to say something the least bit hyperbolic than it was for Trumbull’s defense to deny his accuracy.
“Today was awesome,” Muir said. “Our receivers played great, our O-line played amazing. Just an all-around great effort and it all came together today on offense and defense. That’s what happens, 70 points.”
The final score was improbable and it appeared a microscope was necessary to find fault with the Cardinals’ play, though coach John Marinelli assured he has a to-do list before next week’s game against Trinity Catholic.
But the resounding nature of the Cardinals’ production was exceeded by the way they handled it afterward, and that may eventually prove to offer the best foreshadowing of what a team that got a taste of the postseason a year ago in Marinelli’s second season can accomplish this fall.
“We still have a lot to work on, a lot of early mistakes,” Marinelli said. “We’ve got to work on not throwing the ball deep late, we have to work on tackling. We’re still young and we made a lot of young mistakes. We were opportunistic so you’re not going to see them on the scoreboard. We did a great job converting off turnovers but we didn’t run all that well. The score is not indicative of how good we are or how bad they are.”
Muir completed 20 of 26 passes for 286 yards and six touchdowns, but he was sharper in the way he deflected any credit. Everything but the crisp late summer weather was the reason for his success.
“We’ve been working on our timing, the receivers and I, the line is a tight-knit group and they all know who’s picking up who so it all worked out today,” Muir said.
The game, billed as an early test between teams with Class LL aspirations, was competitive early. The Eagles held a 10-7 lead in the first quarter.
Then came a three-minute span that changed the day. Muir completed a 6-yard scoring pass to Jael Negron, who finished with 8 catches for 148 yards. After a three-and-out, Muir connected with Tysen Comizio, open over the middle for a 57-yard score that put the Cardinals up 21-10.
Center Keith Woodring then executed a perfect onside kick, which set up Muir’s 22-yard scoring pass to Elias Gianopolous.
“The onside kick was great,” Marinelli said. “It completely changed the momentum again. It was a very difficult first quarter. They were moving the ball. They kept on fighting. Some of their miscues led to our scores and that’s not going to happen every week.”
Muir and Comizio connected again before halftime, the Eagles fumbled away the second-half kick and soon it was running time.
“It snowballed. It happens sometimes,” said Trumbull coach Bob Maffei, who was without one of his top weapons, Markeese Woods, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension for violation of team rules. “We were right in the ballgame in the first half. Then all of a sudden, fumble, onside kick, a bomb, had an interception and it bounces off his hands. What could go wrong did go wrong.”
Marinelli has praised the depth at wide receiver, and eight different players caught passes, five for scores. The receivers even proved to have great chemistry when Henry Saleeby also threw a touchdown pass, to Negron.
“A lot of receivers had a monster game,” Marinelli said. “(Muir) is getting really conformable, and the more he plays he’s going to get even more comfortable.”
Lost in the outcome was a strong effort by the Cardinals’ defense, which will have to be improved from a year ago to get back to the state playoffs and not make an early exit.
“Our defense played well,” Marinelli said.” We have to shore up some tackling. It is never as good as it seems and it is never as bad as it looks. I know we are going to fix mistakes on our part.”
An improved performance is a scary prospect for Greenwich’s opponents.
Perhaps even more so is the Cardinals’ mindset. Muir’s words were as much on point as his passes.
“Every game is a playoff game for us; this is a first step,” Muir said. “These points don’t carry over to Trinity so it’s time to look ahead.”