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Big plays help Stamford beat Simsbury in first-ever contest

Simsbury defenders stop Stamford’s Camria Jean Pierre during Friday night’s game in Simsbury.

SIMSBURY, Sept. 23, 2023 – Simsbury High coach Dave Masters is in his ninth year as the head coach of the Trojans. His 2019 squad went 9-1 in the regular season and advanced to the Class LL semifinals, finishing with a school-record 10 wins.

He has seen success. He knows the 2023 edition of the Trojans can be successful. They just haven’t put it together yet and a challenging schedule is looking down that progress.

“This is a good team,” he said Friday night after Simsbury dropped a 27-7 decision to Stamford at Holden Field. “This is one of the best teams (I’ve coached). They just need to get a footing.”

Simsbury dropped their season opener to Fairfield Ludlowe, 42-14 and lost a week ago to Berlin by a 33-7 score. It doesn’t get any easier with No. 3 Maloney on the schedule next week and future games that include No. 2 Southington.

But he likes how his defense is playing. “They’re playing tough but they are on the field too much,” he said. “We need to do a better job (offensively) of giving them some reprieve.”

The two schools were playing for the first time in football thanks to the Connecticut High School Football Alliance, which includes six of the eight conferences in the state. Teams are matched up by a committee of coaches in terms of size and competitiveness.

Similar to what happened in the first two games of the season, it was a few mistakes that changed the course of the game.

In the first quarter, Simsbury drove to the Stamford three-yard line but on first down and goal, the Trojans coughed up the football and the Black Knights recovered.

Early in the second quarter, Stamford’s Damar Taylor got behind a Simsbury defender and quarterback Ejai Pressley found Taylor running in stride for a 58-yard touchdown reception and a 7-0 lead with 9:07 left in the first half.

With 1:12 left in the second quarter, the Black Knights found themselves on their own 40 yard-line when Camrin Jean Pierre bouncing off Simsbury defenders trying to bring down and weaving through the defense for a 32-yard gain to the Simsbury 28-yard line.

Two plays later, Pressley found Taylor for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 27.3 seconds left in the first half and a 14-0 lead.

“We wanted to be able to run the ball and we had some issues with that,” Stamford coach Donny Panapada said. “(Simsbury) has some tough, hard-nosed kids. So, we went to our passing game and it opened up some things. Our defense kept us in it until we were able to make some plays.”

The Stamford defenders had a shutout until Simsbury drove 78 yards on 12 plays in the final 3:04 of the contest to get out the scoreboard. Chad Mairano scored from the one-yard line with 7.1 seconds left for the Trojans.

Matyczyk completed six of eight passes for 56 yards on the drive. On a fourth down and one play at the Simsbury 43, Mairano ran for eight yards to keep the drive going. On a third down and eight play at the Stamford nine-yard line, Matyczyk scrambled eight yards to the one for another first down with 16.8 seconds left.

“This team will be good,” Masters said.

Matczyk completed 16-of-30 passes for 184 yards and an interception. Andrew Kerwin caught five passes for 85 yards while Andrew Medina pulled in four receptions for 19 yards. Zach Tartaglia caught three passes for 36 yards.

Mairano led the way on the ground, rushing for 43 yards on 17 carries.

Stamford took a 20-0 lead on their opening drive of the third quarter. Jean Pierre gained 11 yards to the SImsbury 46-yard line. After a 15-yard completion from Presley to Brian Augustin, Jean Pierre ran for 29 yards to the Simsbury two-yard line. He scored on a touchdown on the next play.

Jean Pierre ran for a game-high 95 yards on 13 carries, primarily in the second half.

Augstin also scored on a 55-yard punt return to boost the lead to 27-0 in the fourth quarter.

Stamford 27, Simsbury 7
At Simsbury

Stamford (2-1)        0  14  6  7  — 27
Simsbury (0-3)        0  0  0  7  — 7
Second quarter
Stam: Damar Taylor 58 pass from Ejai Presley (Jack Solomita kick), 9:07
Stam: Taylor 16 pass from Presley (Solomita kick), 0:27
Third quarter
Stam: Camrin Jean Pierre 2 run (kick wide), 8:57
Fourth quarter
Stam: Brian Augustin 55 punt return (Solomita kick), 8:37
Simsbury: Chad Mairano 1 run (Nolan Pendergast kick), 0:07
Individual statistics
RUSHING:  Simsbury: Patrick Matyczyk 6-1, Chad Mairano 17-43, Jacob Isabel 2-5; Stamford – Justin Bracco 1-minus 3, Camria Jean Pierre 13-95, Ejai Presley 5-24, Cameron Coard 5-20
PASSING:  Simsbury – Patrick Matyczyk 16-30-1, 184; Stamford – Ejai Presley 14-17-0, 191, Ian Duggan 1-3-0, 12
RECEIVING: Simsbury – Andrew Kerwin 5-85, Chad Mairano 1-0, Andrew Medina 4-19, Shane Butler 2-32, Jacob Isabel 1-7, Zachary Tartaglia 3-36; Stamford – Joseph Salvatore 3-12, Damar Taylor 6-122, Camria Jean Pierre 2-26, Brian Augustin 1-15, Dave Phillips 2-16, Justin Bracco 1-7

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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