Dixon, Greenwich pickoff five passes, roll through Fairfield Prep for second Class LL championship in five years

Photo of Michael Fornabaio

EAST HARTFORD — For a while after Greenwich won the CIAC Class LL football title Saturday night, it seemed like senior Matthew Trimmer was everywhere.

There he was in a pile of jubilant Cardinals players after a 37-17 win over Fairfield Prep at Rentschler Field. There he was running to the sideline to leap on defensive coordinator Bryan Hocter. Somehow he had the championship plaque next and was running to the stands with it.

He and the Cardinals were just about everywhere during the game, too. Even when he didn’t make a play, Charlie Dixon made one moments later. Two weeks after a one-point Thanksgiving loss to Staples, two months after a one-point loss to Southington, they were champions.

“We took that Staples loss personal,” Trimmer said. “We took that homecoming loss personal. We had articles and things saying our secondary’s our weak point, our defense has been bailed out by our offense. We took that personal, and we fought through these playoffs hard.”

Second-seeded Greenwich (11-2) was ranked seventh in the GameTimeCT final regular-season poll but figures to finish much higher. The Cardinals are champions for the ninth time, for the second time in the past four contested seasons and for the first time under coach Anthony Morello.

In three playoff games, they outscored opponents 126-24.

“Our defense gave up a fair amount of points as the season went on. We had some games that were shootouts,” Morello said. “So they kind of had the reputation of giving up a lot of points, but they were always good against the run. All season long, even in the losses. We wanted to play to our strengths.”

Greenwich held the Jesuits under 100 yards rushing, and most of Fairfield Prep’s offense came after the game was out of reach.

“We knew what their pass game was going in, that they’re a more run-heavy team,” Trimmer said. “We wanted to take away the run and force them to pass. We knew they were going to go deep. Their guys one-on-one: When you’ve got athletes like Charlie Dixon in the secondary, he’s going to make plays for you.”

Trimmer dropped a potential interception on the Jesuits’ second play from scrimmage. Dixon took an interception back 33 yards on the third play, the first of five Cardinals interceptions, three of them Dixon’s. Trimmer got one of his own late. Nick Aravides had the other.

Fifth-seeded, 10th-ranked Fairfield Prep (9-4) turned the ball over on its first three possessions and was down 20 points in a blink. Greenwich led 27-7 at halftime, 30-7 after three on Sergot Boone's 31-yard field goal.

The Jesuits had won eight in a row after a 1-3 start to reach the final.

“I want to give a lot of credit to my kids and staff. The one thing we never did was give up on ourselves,” Jesuits coach Keith Hellstern said.

“We played a very good team, but this (Prep) team has got a lot of heart, got a lot of character. They added to the program’s culture in a positive way despite really difficult circumstances.”

Greenwich moved efficiently, running for 209 yards, 152 of them George Vomvolakis’ on 21 carries, one of those a 63-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Jack Wilson, famously knocked out of last year’s quarterfinal loss at Fairfield Prep, was 11-for-19 for 116 yards and punched in two short touchdown runs, getting a measure of revenge.

“The run game, the guys up front were having our way,” Wilson said. “I knew going into the game the key to the game would be running the ball. For them to come in and be able to move us down the field like that, the guys up front, was unbelievable.”

Receiver James Wailgum had been waiting patiently nearby. “Make sure you get down one thing,” he said, patting Wilson’s shoulder. “Best player in the state!”

He’d said it about Dixon, too, a few minutes earlier, but on a night like that, who could blame him?

Player of the Game

Greenwich senior Charlie Dixon had three interceptions, returning one for the game’s first touchdown. He had five catches for 61 yards, one a ridiculous simultaneous catch on the left sideline. He made a diving catch that might’ve been a touchdown were he in bounds. He had at least one memorable tackle. He danced around the end zone to kill time and take a safety late. We’re probably leaving something out.


Greenwich coach Anthony Morello, asked about wearing cut-off sleeves in freezing nighttime temperatures: “Weather is a mindset. Weather is a mindset.” He turned less serious. “I’m a lineman. I was a lineman growing up. I’m still a lineman. Be who you gotta be out here.”

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp

Greenwich 37, Fairfield Prep 17

FAIRFIELD PREP    0   7   0   10 — 17
GREENWICH         20   7   3     7 — 37
G—Charlie Dixon 33 interception return (run failed)
G—George Vomvolakis 5 run (Sergot Boone kick)
G—Jack Wilson 1 run (Boone kick)
G—Wilson 1 run (Boone kick)
FP—Ryan Preisano 24 pass from Tyler Smith (Robert Murphy kick)
G—Sergot Boone 31 field goal
G—Vomvolakis 63 run (Boone kick)
FP—Malachi Mercer-Robinson 13 run (Mercer-Robinson run)
FP—Safety (Dixon tackled in end zone)
Records: Greenwich 11-2; Fairfield Prep 9-4