Eagles fall to Shelton
Trumbull High football coach Bob Maffei wasn’t about to read too much into the Eagles' 40-10 season-opening loss to Shelton High, as part of the SCC-FCIAC Challenge played in front of a crowd of about 1,800 at McDougall Stadium on Sept. 12.
Maffei’s inexperienced Eagles are a work in progress, while the Gaels are loaded this season.
“They’ve been putting this team together for a while and this is their year to cash in,” Maffei said of Shelton. “Our program is alive and well. We’ll walk away from here, we played hard, we played tough and we didn’t back down.
“A lot of these guys are making their first varsity start tonight. We moved the ball on them, but [Shelton quarterback Mark Piccirillo], he’s a really good player and they have a lot of weapons.
“We have a lot of football left. We’re going to come away from this a better team. Don’t judge us now, judge us at the end of the season.”
Trumbull started the night on a high note with Adam Angelucci returning the game’s opening kickoff 58 yards to the Shelton 36-yard line.
Junior quarterback Stephen Nagy, behind an offensive line including Jonathan Newland, Cory Haslam, Greg Goldman, Justin Appleby, Connor Shea and Matthew Bedoya, then ran for 20 yards on a keeper to the Gael 16.
Nagy went for another five yards on the next play, but was stopped for no gain on second down and threw an incompletion on third down.
That set up a 27-yard field goal attempt, which Lance Bragg converted out of the hold of Johnny McElroy for a 3-0 Trumbull lead just 1:55 into the game.
But the quick start would be short-lived, as Shelton answered with a Piccirillo two-yard touchdown run less than two minutes later, giving the Gaels a 6-3 lead.
The teams traded punts before Shelton started to get going offensively, with Piccirillo scoring on runs of 11 and one yard on consecutive drives, opening up the Shelton lead to 19-3.
Trumbull had a nice drive going late in the second quarter with a chance to get some momentum back before halftime.
Nagy hit Jack Kelly for a 22-yard gain to the Shelton 25 yard-line.
But on fourth-and-10, Shelton intercepted a pass to thwart the scoring opportunity.
The Gaels continued to dominate play into the early fourth quarter, with Piccirillo turning to the air to score on touchdown passes of 55 and 46 yards.
Shelton also took advantage of a botched Trumbull punt snap to score on a one-yard touchdown run and increase its lead to 40-3 early in the fourth period.
A third quarter highlight for the Eagles was a Shea fumble recovery, but Trumbull was unable to take advantage of the break.
Trumbull scored its first touchdown of the season mid-way through the fourth quarter.
Angelucci returned a Shelton punt 30 yards to the Gael 41, then picked up seven yards on first down with an additional 15 yards added at the end of the play on a penalty to move the ball down to the 19.
Angelucci then blasted through the middle of the Gael defense to cover the remaining 19 yards and provide the final margin of 40-10.
A scary moment occurred on the ensuing kickoff.
Trumbull’s Joe Ryan was hurt while making the tackle, and told the training staff that he was experiencing pains in his back and neck, according to Maffei.
“It was all pretty much precautionary and hopefully everything is good,” said Maffei.
Angelucci led the Trumbull rushing attack with 81 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Nagy contributed 71 yards on 12 rushes.
Nagy, making his first start, completed 3-of-9 passes for 31 yards while reserve quarterback McElroy completed 1-of-3 passes for one yard.
Niko Principi made three catches. Bragg hauled in the other reception.
The Eagles begin FCIAC play Friday when they host Warde of Fairfield at McDougall Stadium in a 7 p.m. kickoff. Warde upended Foran of Milford, 24-21, in its season opener.
The FCIAC edged the SCC, 9-8, to win the Challenge.