Win Puts Stamford's Trinity Catholic In Football Playoffs

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An emotional Trinity Catholic Crusaders coach Pete Stokes and tight end Cody Zaro address the team Thursday after the Crusaders beat the Wilton Warriors, 42-32, to gain their first playoff berth since 1989. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch
Trinity Catholic is on offense Thursday during its win over Wilton, 42-32. The victory clinched the first playoff berth for the Crusaders since 1989. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

WILTON, Conn. – The Trinity Catholic High School football team set the tone early in its 42-32 win over the Wilton Warriors on Thanksgiving morning.

Wide receiver Shawn Brown rumbled for a 61-yard touchdown run for the Crusaders in the first play from scrimmage, and the team never trailed. With the victory, Trinity Catholic, 8-2 on the season, made the state Class S playoffs for the first time since 1989 and looked dominant doing it. The team will face North Branford on Tuesday.

The Warriors, who ended the season 4-6 and out of the playoffs, moved the ball well on the ground, trading touchdowns early with the Crusaders. But Wilton never had an answer for Trinity Catholic’s Brown, quarterback Danny O’Leary and running back Shaquan Howsie.

Brown ended the game with three touchdowns, including a 76-yard touchdown pass from O’Leary, and more than 130 yards on the ground. Howsie had more than 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

“The turkey’s going to taste awfully good today,” Crusaders coach Pete Stokes said after the game, which was played at Wilton’s Fujitani Field.

Crusaders tight end and co-captain Cody Zaro agreed.

"We faced a lot of adversity out there, but I’m proud of how we ended up playing,” Zaro said.

Yet, as dominant as the Crusaders looked on offense, they, too, struggled on defense. They allowed Warriors running back Mike Burns and quarterback Brett Phillips to chew up significant chunks of yardage. Each finished with more than 140 yards on the ground, and Burns chipped in an impressive four touchdowns.

“I can’t say enough about the way we fought out there,” Warriors coach Bruce Cunningham said after the game, fighting back tears.

Cunningham said he was proud of the way the team ran, but he acknowledged that the defense could not keep up with the Crusaders.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “But I’m not going to take credit away from Trinity Catholic. It was a chess match out there, and they made all the right adjustments.”

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