Naugatuck thriving behind balanced offense

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High football team hasn’t had a problem scoring in recent memory. The Greyhounds have scored less than 20 points just once in 23 regular-season games under head coach Dave Sollazzo.

This year, senior quarterback Jay Mezzo said the offense has only gotten better, and it showed in Naugatuck’s 43-25 win over St. Paul Sept. 27.

“Some of us have worked in this offense for over two years now,” said Mezzo, who had eight touchdowns in his first three games. “We have a lot of senior leadership and guys who know what they’re doing. We have that chemistry.”

Mezzo threw four touchdowns against St. Paul, hooking up with Isaiah Williams twice, as well as deep scores to Nick Linton and Paul Marsh.

Naugatuck (3-0) headed into the St. Paul game shorthanded, with running back and linebacker Malachi Gattison and tight end Connor Maxwell out due to injury, among others.

“Our offense really stepped up,” Sollazzo said. “We had guys banged up and we were still able to put points up on the board. Jay continues to throw the ball well, and the offensive line has done a good job protecting him.”

Mezzo said the key to the offense’s success is balance. The Greyhounds have nine rushing touchdowns to go with Mezzo’s eight passing scores this season.

“I think we’re only going to be a more balanced offense as the season goes on,” Mezzo said.  “We can run the ball when we want to and we can throw the ball when we want to.”

While the offense has been clicking, Naugy’s defense struggled some against St. Paul’s triple-option offense. It was just the third time in the past two seasons that Naugy gave up more than 20 points.

Sollazzo said the performance could have been better, but he credited St. Paul for playing well on offense.

“Part of it was us not doing our job but part of it was also St. Paul playing very hard,” Sollazzo said. “When you play the triple option, you play assignment football. Somebody is responsible for the quarterback and another person has to watch for the pitch. Even though you work on it and you practice it, it is not easy to accomplish. They executed their game plan and their running back ran hard.”

Jeff Schebell, who has three rushing scores in the past two games, said the Greyhounds got St. Paul’s best, and Naugatuck will get everyone’s “A-game” moving forward.

“I think ever since coach Sollazzo has been here, we have made a name for ourselves,” Schebell said. “It is almost as if we are on the same level as Ansonia, where teams see us on the schedule and they start working harder because they have a shot to take us down.”

Naugatuck’s scheduled game against Watertown last Friday was postponed to Nov. 22 due to concerns about the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus. The Greyhounds are set to visit Oxford on Friday before a bye next week. Naugatuck returns home Oct. 25 to face Kennedy.