Ground game

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Naugatuck's Devan Biancarelli dives into the end zone ahead of Holy Cross' Derreck Pruden Sept. 17 in Waterbury. Naugy won, 36-6. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
Naugatuck’s Devan Biancarelli dives into the end zone ahead of Holy Cross’ Derreck Pruden Sept. 17 in Waterbury. Naugy won, 36-6. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds’ head football coach Craig Bruno had a simple game plan over the first two years of his reign in Naugatuck: pass the ball and when it falls incomplete go back in the pocket and pass again.

But now that the Greyhounds all-time leading passer Jason Bradley has moved on it was time for Bruno to head back to the drawing board.

All throughout Bruno’s career, especially at Bunnell of Stratford where he led the Bulldogs to a pair of state championships, passing has always been the number one option. But teams are learning quite early this season that in order to stop the Greyhounds they will need to slow down the running game.

Holy Cross found that out first hand last Thursday at Municipal Stadium when Naugatuck simply ran over the Crusaders by a wide 36-6 margin.

Senior Antoine Sistrunk simply ran wild over the Crusaders to the tune of 165 yards and three touchdowns, giving him six scores on the season. Tyler Deitlebaum had seven carries for 55 yards and added a pair of two-point conversions.

Devan Biancarelli (5 carries, 25 yards), Xavier Lewis (5 carries, 20 yards) and Dave Verrilli (3 carries, 9 yards) added to 301 yards on the ground for Naugatuck.

“We have definitely changed things up this season,” Bruno said. “Line coach Tom Tousignant has done a great job with the guys up front and we are moving the ball effectively on the ground.”

It all starts in the trenches. Seniors Logan Bond, William Chockey and Paul Cavagnoulo team up with juniors Ben Rossi, Matt Johnson and sophomore Jiram Lopez up front to pace a running offense that has generated 70 points in two games this season.

“The offensive line is really coming together,” Tousignant said. “We have a great bunch of kids and they are putting in a good effort to get better each week.”

Bruno did mix it up a bit versus Holy Cross. Sophomore quarterback Mike Plasky was 5-for-13 with 83 yards through the air.

“We have a new quarterback in Mike Plasky and he is learning with every snap of the ball,” Bruno said. “Having Antoine in the backfield just settles everyone down. We have some tough challenges ahead, but we are working hard to get better with each game.”

Naugatuck got on the board on its second drive of the game when Plasky fired a 26-yard pass to Jalen Datil (4 catches, 79 yards). The running game took over from there and Sistrunk scored on a 14-yard run to complete the 10-play, 78-yard drive.

The Naugatuck defense got the job done holding the Crusaders to 154 yards of offense and coming up with three turnovers. Two of those take-aways were converted into scores in the first half. Etty Ilunga came up with an interception and Rondale Stewart recovered a fumble.

Sistrunk ran it in from 6 yards out after the Ilunga interception and Biancarelli took it in from 15 yards out following the fumble recovery to give Naugatuck a 24-6 advantage at the half.

The Crusaders only score came on a 2-yard plunge by Adam Razza on a fourth-and-goal to complete a 16-play 83-yard drive.

Plasky threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ilunga in the third quarter. After a fourth quarter interception from Dan Oladapo, Naugatuck concluded the scoring on a 29-yard scamper from Sistrunk.

Naugatuck (2-0) will be tested this Friday when they travel to Torrington (2-0) in an Iron Division match-up of undefeated teams.