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Staples' Defense, Zelkowitz Upend St. Joseph

WESTPORT, Conn. – Staples High School football fans can put to rest any worries they had about the Wreckers being too young to succeed in 2011. Despite losing 25 players to graduation, head coach Marce Petroccio has once again assembled a top-notch defense.

Taking on defending Class S state champion St. Joseph on the road in the season opener, Staples held the Cadets to 175 yards of total offense. The Wreckers derailed the St. Joseph attack thanks to four interceptions and two fumble recoveries en route to a hard-fought 21-7 victory.

"We needed the defense to come out and make a statement. They did a phenomenal job against a team that can really throw the football," Petroccio said. "We worked hard to get ready for this type of game and atmosphere and I couldn't have asked for a better performance."

While the defense was nearly spotless, the offense sputtered for the most part – other than junior running back Joey Zelkowitz. Making his first start as the lead back, Zelkowitz exploded for 208 rushing yards on 14 carries, scoring all three Staples touchdowns.

After a scoreless first quarter, Staples finally caught the break it was looking for. St. Joe's muffed a punt attempt and the Wreckers took over at the Cadets' 21-yard line. Zelkowitz countered to the right side all the way to the end zone for the game's first score.

After St. Joseph knotted the game at 7 all on a long drive, Zelkowitz gave the lead right back to Staples two plays later. The 170-pound back saw daylight and scampered 40 yards to give Staples the lead for good.

Zelkowitz outdid himself on the next Staples possession, busting through the Cadets line for a 67-yard score. Zelkowitz had a potential fourth touchdown called back due a holding penalty.

"We had a couple missed assignments in the first half. We made some adjustments and the offensive line really opened some huge holes," Zelkowitz said. "Our coaches always work to get us into the right spots to get it done. This gives us some nice momentum."

The Staples secondary was in midseason form, with James Frusciante, Durim Trdevaj and Vasili Tzilois all picking off St. Joseph quarterback Patrick Boyle. The safeties and corners played tight defense all afternoon, allowing only one catch over 10 yards.

Staples (1-0) will travel to Bridgeport Central next Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. game.

Tune in for the next episode of Main Street Connect's " FCIAC Football Fast Five " on Thursday for a breakdown of this game!

Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest MSC-Fairfield County sports coverage. Like The Daily Westport on Facebook .

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