NAUGATUCK — With its fourth straight blowout win last Friday against Wilby, Naugatuck first-year football coach Craig Bruno is feeling good.
“I don’t know if we’re playing our best, but I know we’re feeling our best,” said Bruno, fresh off a 42-14 victory over the Wildcats. “So far all the signs of what I hope will come are in place. The guys are working hard and they’re believing in the team. All those things are peaking now.”
The Greyhounds (7-1, 3-1 Naugatuck Valley League Copper) cruised past Wilby to the tune of a 42-14 victory. Junior quarterback Jason Bradley finished with 286 yards passing and five touchdowns, including two each to Ryne Griesenauer and Bryan Coney.
Tom Douty punched in the game’s first touchdown from 1 yard out before Griesenauer and Coney each enjoyed a wave of scores. Coney’s 6-yard catch made it a 14-0 game in the first quarter and his 39-yard snag bumped the lead to 22-0 in the second period.
In the third quarter, Griesenauer scored on throws of 31 and 9 yards. Bradley also added a 7-yard touchdown pass to Nate Franklin.
Naugy also forced three turnovers (two fumble recoveries by James San Angelo and an interception by Maleek Brooks), the third straight week in which the Greyhounds have created at least three. They have grabbed two or more turnovers in each of their last five contests.
Naugatuck’s victory, combined with Holy Cross’ upset of previously unbeaten Woodland last week, opened up the door again for the Greyhounds to get back in the Copper Division race. Naugy needs to beat Holy Cross Thursday at Municipal Stadium and hope the Hawks lose one of their next two games.
In addition, Naugy is in a heated Class L playoff race. With Ansonia looming on Thanksgiving, the ‘Hounds badly need wins over Cross and Kennedy in Week 10 to have a realistic chance at making the postseason in Bruno’s first season.
That pressure, Bruno said, adds extra excitement for big games coming up.
“This is what you live for,” Bruno said. “If you do this job and you play this game, this is what you want. You want the other team to be good and you want to be on the big stage. This is very exciting for the kids and myself, and I can’t wait.”
Holy Cross beat Woodland by forcing four turnovers and getting consistent pressure on All-State quarterback Tanner Kingsley. Naugy’s offense shares similarities with Woodland’s unit, so Bruno and his coaching staff saw improvements they need to make against the hot Crusaders, who have won five in a row.
“We have to get some quick throws,” Bruno said. “(Bradley) has to get rid of the ball. We have to know where their best pass rushers are. It’s not just (Gerron Pendarvis) because they have some more. We have to make adjustments to what they do, but we do what we do. We’re not going to change everything, but we have to be ready.”