Football: Win gives Wilton some momentum going into big test at Darien

“Hey, coach, what do I do with this? Can I keep it?” said WHS tailback Will Litton, holding up his shredded jersey, its number 21 in tatters.

“No, no,” Wilton head coach Bruce Cunningham responded quickly. “Turn it in. Turn it in as soon as you get back to the locker room.”

Both coach and player were upbeat, as well they should have been. The Warriors had just defeated Stamford High 18-0 last Saturday afternoon, on a day that featured wind and driving rain in the first half at Wilton’s Tom Fujitani Field.

However, the nasty elements mercifully ceased and held themselves in check for halftime Homecoming festivities and then throughout the rest of the day.

Litton’s uniform was pretty much wiped out by the end of the second quarter, a testament to his hard running as a tailback on offense and as a hybrid safety-linebacker on defense. All told, he rushed for a game-high 130 yards on 22 carries and contributed to a rock-ribbed defensive effort that allowed the Black Knight attack a total of 105 yards, only five of which came in the first half.

He was joined by fellow linebacker-safety hybrid Harvey Alexander, who recovered a fumble as a defender and picked up 71 yards on 18 rushes from his fullback slot.

As impressive as these efforts were, it was Matt D’Elisa’s day. The senior quarterback and free safety intercepted three passes, and ran for 57 yards on 11 carries, including a touchdown and a two-point conversion. He was also the holder on Will Sullivan’s successful field goal and extra-point kicks.

Wilton (4-2) took the opening kick and on the game’s first play from scrimmage pulled off a razzle-dazzle doozy as the Warriors executed the pass off a double reverse. D’Elisa took the snap from center Anthony Sanzaro and pitched out to Litton running left, who in turn flipped to Joe Scarfi going right. Scarfi then got it to Robbie Hermann moving back to the left and the junior wide receiver hoisted a 52-yard bomb to Joe Pozzi. Alexander’s two-yard run and D’Elisa’s PAT keeper made it 8-0 just 81 seconds into the game.

D’Elisa chalked up his first interception when he picked off the ball on the Black Knights’ second play from scrimmage. He returned it to the Stamford 28. It took Wilton six plays to score, with D’Elisa surging in from the one. Sullivan’s extra point made it 15-0 with 8:50 left in the first quarter.

The interception was the first of seven Black Knight turnovers and it was a harbinger of the suffocating defensive performance Wilton would deliver. Along with D’Elisa’s filches, cornerback Jake Savvaides also got a pick, one that would lead to Sullivan’s 28-yard field goal with 6:54 left in the half.

Stamford’s best chance to score came at the beginning of the fourth quarter. After an interception by Julius Paige gave the Black Knights the ball at the Warrior 44, a 25-yard completion to Rich Scott on third and long moved Stamford to the Wilton 30.

Three plays later, Aaron D’Annolfo connected with Paige for 30 yards and a first and goal at the Warrior three-yard line. Cameron Freckleton blasted his way to the one, leaving three downs for Stamford to reach the end zone.

It didn’t happen.

“We had prepared our goal line defense on Friday,” said tri-captain and inside linebacker TJ Kedzierski. “We scouted their formation and we knew where we were going to stop it. It worked out perfectly.”

After Freckleton and Brendan Fahey were turned back on successive downs, a fourth-down fumble recovery by Steffen Nobles gave Wilton the ball at its own two. It was Nobles’ second of the day.

“It was a bad hand-off,” he said. “Both of the fumbles I recovered came on bad hand-offs and I was in the right place at the right time.”

“Our defensive line came off the ball so well the whole game,” added Kedzierski. “Kyle Schifrin (the other inside linebacker) and I didn’t have to do too much.”

The whole defense is due kudos with defensive tackles Marty Zoruba and Colin Carroll and defensive ends Nobles and AJ Pykosz leading the charge. Then the backers corps of Litton, Alexander, Kedzierski and Schifrin followed, joined by Savvaides at one corner and Chris Hyzy at the other. D’Elisa rounded out the unit as the roaming free safety.

The offense was no slouch either. Guards Jack DiNanno and tri-captain Colin Carroll, tackles Nobles and John Amonte, center Sanzaro (and upon his injury, Mike Wehrli), and the trio of tackles/tight ends — Pykosz, Shifrin and Jack Dooley — wrenched open huge holes for a rushing attack that accounted for 258 of the team’s 330 total yards.

The wide receivers, Pozzi, Hermann, Scarfi, Tim Rizzo, and James Sweeney, though thrown to a mere five times, chipped in with downfield blocking. Add to it the fact that tri-captain Joe McFadden made his first appearance of the season, after summer knee surgery, and there was just cause for celebration.

It wasn’t all a bed of roses, as Cunningham was quick to point out immediately after the game.

“We left way too many points on the field, so many mistakes in the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20-yard line), so many penalties. We had five turnovers. We’ve got to clean that up.”

He continued, “It still was a great rebound win, though, and the defense was outstanding. We shut down their speed and they have it even without their big guy (Tyrell Diaz). I thought (defensive coordinator) Dick Cerone did a great job of planning and calling the game.”

Stamford dropped to 3-3 with the loss.

Notes: Wilton plays at Darien this Saturday afternoon at 1. Currently picked by many as the top team in the state, Darien (6-0) represents a huge challenge to the Warriors.

“We have to take on the challenge,” said Cunningham. “We’ve got to play right, and that means we’ve got to know our jobs and assignments. If we don’t, they’ll make us pay.”