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Staples Football Rolls Over Ridgefield, 48-21

Jon Heil rushes for a school-record 366 yards and four touchdowns as the undefeated Wreckers advance to the Class LL semifinals to face Newtown on Saturday

With Staples leading rusher Joey Zelkowitz still bothered by a separated shoulder and not able to play, Jon Heil had a feeling he would handle the bulk of the Wreckers' running on Tuesday.

He had no idea, however, that he would produce the greatest rushing game in the history of the Staples football program.

On a rainy night at Fujitani Field, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound senior ran through, around and over the defense for a school-record 366 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries as the second-seeded Wreckers rolled over No. 7 Ridgefield 48-21 in the Class LL quarterfinals.

Staples (10-0) advanced to Saturday's semifinals, where it will face No. 6 seed Newtown, a 36-22 upset winner over No. 3  seed Hall.

"I did know Joey was going to be out, so I knew I was going to be getting some more carries," said Heil, who shattered the previous school rushing record of 275 set by Jessie Becker in 2000. "But just like every other game, I'll do my best and the line opened up the holes."

Heil scored on runs of 94, 63, 7 and 80 yards as the Wreckers were unstoppable with the ball, rolling up 455 yards of total offense. On some of his runs, Heil was barely touched.

He started things off with his 94-yard burst up the middle on the first play of Staples' second possession.

After Jack Massie tossed a 37-yard TD pass to James Frusciante to make it 14-0, Ridgefield (8-3) got on the board on Conor Rowe's 26-yard TD pass to John Heller. But Heil added TD runs of 63 and 7 yards to give the Wreckers a 27-7 halftime lead.

"He was phenomenal," said Staples coach Marce Petroccio in the understatement of the year. "This is a playoff game in a two-back system. If he's a tailback, okay, but it's an option game. They just wouldn't tackle him."

Given the conditions, it was an advantage for the Wreckers, who have had to come from behind a lot this season, to play with a lead. And since the Tigers couldn't seem to corral Heil, Petroccio made the sure the ball got into his hands as often as possible.

"That's a quality football team, that's a quality program," Petroccio said. "(Ridgefield) coach (Kevin) Callahan does a great job. I live in that town. For whatever reason tonight, we were on our game. I was concerned about their defense."

Ridgefield, which was making its first state playoff appearance since 2005, tried to make a game of it as Sam Gravitte ripped off a 35-yard TD run to pull the Tigers within 28-14 just 51 seconds into the second half.

But the Tigers, who missed two field goals in the first half, had no answers for Heil. Four plays later, he was in the end zone again after racing 80 yards for the score that effectively sealed Ridgefield's fate.

"It's pretty amazing," Heil said of his memorable performance. "The line was doing such a great job, I knew it was going to be a good day."

And Callahan may have visions of Heil racing down the field in his dreams.

"The kid is elusive in so many different ways that you can't even prepare for him during the week," Callahan said. "He's not a real big kid, but he's a real strong kid. He's runs physical when he has to, he can break some tackles and he accelerates really quickly."

After a Ridgefield fumble - the Wreckers forced three turnovers in the second half -- Staples was set up with a 1st-and-goal from the 1. Heil had a chance for a fifth score, but this time, Robby Wolf got the carry and plowed in for the score.

Ridgfield answered on Rowe's 65-yard TD pass to Matthew Flanagan, pulling the Tigers within 41-20, before the Wreckers capped the scoring on Nick Kelly's 11-yard TD run.

By that point, Heil had had enough. The Wreckers do have another game in four days.

"You've never seen a better kid or a great kid than Jon Heil," Petroccio said. "I'm just so happy for what he did tonight. It's a tribute to him, it's a tribute to that offensive line, and we're moving on to the next round."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Izzo November 30, 2011 at 11:52 AM
To me this is more than a football game for these young men,as they play on the field of acomplishment. The lessons they learn will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives GO WRECKERS

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