On a raw, wet, Saturday afternoon, Greenwich used a dominant ground attack, and an opportunistic defense, to earn the Section II Class D football championship with a 31-7 decision over Stillwater, on the turf in Schuylerville.
The Witches, went up tempo on the game’s opening drive and mixed a trio of ball carriers in Colin Hughes, Aiden McPhail, and quarterback Jesse Kuzmich to methodically march the ball down the field for points, when Hughes plowed in from the two, and with the Declan Kelleher point after, led 7-0, just four minutes in.
On Stillwater’s first offensive series, Greenwich forced a Warrior punt, but the Maroon and White quickly regained possession when Trevor Cowin intercepted a deep ball from Kuzmich and returned it to the Greenwich 33-yard line.
Later in the drive, facing a 4th and four at the Greenwich 15, Colby Paffin found an open Jaxson Mueller who made a leaping grab at the two, setting up first and goal. One play later, Mueller took the snap out of the Wildcat and pushed the pile in for the score and the Liam Brady tack on, evened things at 7-7 with 1:08 remaining in the frame.
On Greenwich’s ensuing drive the Witches used 25 penalty yards from Stillwater, a 19-yard keeper by Kuzmich and a pair of steamroller runs by sophomore Matt Conlin, the second a 12-yard touchdown tote, to take a 14-7 advantage.
After the Greenwich “D” forced Stillwater’s second punt of the day, the Witches took over on their own 41 and again cashed in for points.
Four Conlin carries moved the ball to the Warrior 41, when Kumich, working out of the pistol, took the snap, delayed, and accelerated through the middle, breaking a tackle at the 20, and outrunning everyone to the left pylon, to give the Witches a two score cushion at 21-7.
A Parker Jamieson pick quickly gave the ball back to Greenwich, but the Stillwater defense held and took over on downs at their own 20 yard line with 3:30 left in the half.
Warrior running back CJ McNeil mixed a pair of inside runs, with two toss sweeps, and coupled with a 15-yard penalty on Greenwich, Stillwater was set up at the Witches 34.
But Greenwich stiffened, sacking Paffen for a five yard loss, and stopping McNeil on a fourth and short to end the scoring threat, sending the squads to the halftime intermission.
After the break, Stillwater’s initial drive moved the ball to the Greenwich 48, but stalled there and the Warriors were forced to punt.
Taking over on their own 20, the Witches consumed clock, and yards on the series, courtesy of the powerful Conlin.
The 235 pound back carried eight times for 65 yards in the 7:30 drive, including runs of 21, 16 and 15 yards, setting up a 30-yard field goal from Kelleher, giving Greenwich 24-7 lead with 1:23 left in the third.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jamieson came up with his second pick of the contest, running it back to the Stillwater 30, and two plays later, with thunder in the distance, play was stopped for a weather delay.
After the stoppage, facing a fourth and one, a Kuzmich sneak took the ball to the Warrior 15 yard line, and on the next play it was Conlin, breaking three tackles, and scoring on a 16-yard foray, extending the Witches advantage to 31-7 and leaving no doubt that the championship belonged to Greenwich.
Conlin finished with 160 yards on 21 carries to lead the Witches attack, and McNeil paced the Warriors with a 119 yard effort carrying 26 times.
Greenwich, (10-0), advances to regional play and will face Tuckahoe, next Friday night in Mechanicville.