Staples football came out like a team hungry to avenge its loss in the 2009 state title game. In his first high school start, senior quarterback Chet Pajolek ran and passed with the poise of a veteran, picking apart the Trinity Catholic defense. The No. 1-ranked defense in the state also showed up big, blanking the Crusaders until the last nine minutes of the game. It was a thunderous opening statement for the defending FCIAC champions, thumping Trinity 31-16.
"We have just been dying to get out here and hit somebody in a different color uniform," Staples head coach Marce Petroccio said. "We keep getting better offensively, but for now, defense and special teams are going to have to carry us."
Like any championship-caliber team, talent only goes so far unless there's a little bit of luck. After a drive that led to a 7-yard touchdown run by Pajolek, Staples fumbled on its next possession. Just as it appeared the momentum had turned, Rob Gau forced Crusaders running back Tre Crumbley to fumble the ball right back to Staples. Then Pajolek threw an interception. Then Trinity fumbled again. Four possessions. Four turnovers. From there, Staples put mistakes behind it and lit up the scoreboard.
Pajolek's favorite target in his first start was Jason Mawicke, connecting for a 42-yard touchdown catch. Staples pulled most of its defensive starters after blanking Trinity for four quarters. Mawicke added a 51-yard catch that led to a 9-yard touchdown grab by John Heil on the next play. Greg Straus contributed a leaping interception in the third quarter to snuff a Trinity threat. The Crusaders' 16 points came in the last nine minutes and largely against Staples' second-string defense.
"Our defense is loaded, so it makes things a little easier," Pajolek said. "I think we're even going to score on defense. We just need to keep our consistency that we had in the first half."
Staples next week will take on Norwalk, which beat Greenwich on Thursday for the first time in 30 years.
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