Football: Westhill at Stamford, Wednesday, 6 p.m. Accentuate the positive
It is not secret, these have been trying seasons for both the Stamford and Westhill football programs.
Both teams fielded younger rosters and were just not able to find their footing climbing the hill against FCIAC opponents.
Stamford (2-7) picked up wins over Trinity Catholic and Bridgeport Central while Westhill’s lone win came against out-of-conference opponent Capital/Achievement.
None of that matters come 6 p.m. Wednesday night.
The two city rivals will meet for their annual showdown at Boyle Stadium under the lights on Thanksgiving Eve and the winner gets to leave, not thinking about being at the bottom of the FCIAC standings, but rather holding the Frank Robotti Trophy awarded to the city public school champions.
If Stamford wins it would also claim the Paul Kuczo Trophy as overall city champions since the Black Knights defeated Trinity earlier in the season.
Should Westhill win, the three schools would all be 1-1 in heads-up play as Trinity defeated the Vikings.
Both Stamford and Westhill know a win Wednesday not only somewhat salvages a rough season but sets a tone for the offseason and next year.
“The turkey will taste a little better the next day if you win,” Stamford coach Jamar Greene said. “It would be nice to keep the Robotti Trophy here but trophy or no trophy, a win really would give us a lot of momentum heading into next year. Both of our teams are young and in a similar position. Ending on a good note will help them forget about the bad times we had this year and bring positive energy into the offseason.”
Westhill coach Joe DeVellis is in his first year at the helm of the Vikings, taking over the program in the middle of the summer.
He said his players are fired up for the chance to end on a high note and he realizes it could be a springboard into his first full offseason as head coach if the Vikings win.
“The kids are excited. It is nice to have this game at the end of the year to look forward to and nice to have a trophy to play for,” DeVellis said. “This is a good way to set the tone for next year. We both want to go into the offseason on a positive but it all depends on who wins on Thanksgiving.”
While looking ahead, both coaches talked about paying respect to the current seniors and both have been doing that over the last week and half at practice, culminating in Tuesday night’s final practice for graduating seniors which is always an emotional evening.
DeVellis said Stamford poses certain matchup problems for his team with its size and speed.
“They are very athletic at the skill positions and have good playmakers they can get the ball to,” DeVellis said. “They are very big up front, bigger than us, and we are going to have to work hard to win on the line. It’s also tough to match the intensity Stamford plays with. Hopefully our guys come in ready to go and match them in intensity.”
Greene said Westhill’s quarterback, AJ Laccona, has an edge in the game having played in it last season and could have a huge impact for the Vikings.
“Their quarterback is tough, he can make plays and we need to try and keep him under wraps,” Greene said. “They are a fast team and they have wide receivers that can go by you, so, we need to do a good job slowing them down.”
One team will walk out of Boyle Stadium carrying the Robotti Trophy and if the coaches are right, walk into the offseason with a skip in their step.