STAMFORD, Conn. Trinity Catholic was buzzing with the return of running back Shaquan Howsie in Saturdays season opener. But it was the Crusader defense that did a lot of the heavy lifting in a 28-10 victory over Westhill in a battle of Stamford schools.
With the most players on its team in years, Westhill was fired up entering the season opener. The momentum seemed to favor the Vikings early when a muffed punt on the fourth play from scrimmage led to a safety and a 2-0 Westhill lead.
That would be as good as it would get for the Vikings, as Westhills offense showed it still has a long way to go in the rebuilding process. Westhill fumbled on its first play from scrimmage and Trinitys Riley Kinahan scooped up the loose ball, scampering 36 yards for the Crusaders first score of the season.
The big news of the day was Trinitys powerhouse running back, Howsie, returning from and ACL tear in his knee. Westhills defensive front provided the games silver lining for the Vikings, holding Howsie in check to 83 yards on 20 carries.
Despite averaging just over four yards a carry, Howsie still had a nose for the end zone. The senior back added rushing touchdowns of eight and 22 yards. The 22-yarder in the fourth quarter was his longest run of the day.
The rushing numbers didnt matter to Howsie, though. He was just glad to be back.
Im so happy to back, to be playing and that we got the win today. Im ready to play again right now, Howsie said. 200 yards, 100, 50 doesnt matter. As long as we get that win, thats all I care about.
Trinitys defense wreaked havoc on Westhills inexperienced offense, holding the Vikings to just 156 yards of total team offense. The Vikings also turned the ball over three times on a pair of fumbles and an interception by Trinitys Cody Zaro. Trinity also racked up racked up four sacks against Westhills quarterback tandem of Ryan Coppolla and Davell Cotterell.
We stuck with the course today and Im proud, Trinity head coach Pete Stokes said. Its time for us to play with the big boys. Were senior heavy and we know that we can play against any 11 other guys.
A frustrating day on offense did yield one Westhill touchdown, thanks in part to four straight Trinity penalties late in the fourth quarter. Coppolla connected with Yveson Cassamajor for the Vikings only offensive score of the day, adding the two-point conversion.
Three turnovers led to three touchdowns thats the difference in the ballgame, Westhills first-year head coach Frank Marcucio said. We held them, but then we put the ball on the ground our first play of the game. The ball just didnt bounce our way.
Trinity Catholic faces one of its toughest tests of the season next week when New Canaan comes to town on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game.
Westhill, meanwhile, will travel to Trumbull on Friday for a 7 p.m. game.