When Glastonbury High School football visited South Windsor last Thursday night, both the scoreboard and stadium lights at Rye Street Park weren’t working.
That didn’t stop senior Jack Petrone from lighting up the scoreboard with another phenomenal performance, rushing for 233 yards and three touchdowns as the Guardians tamed the Bobcats 31-21 on Oct. 20.
“It’s pretty awesome to have him on our side. He’s just a grinder; he shows up and works,” head coach Eric Hennessy said about the ultra-productive Petrone. “He doesn’t act like a star; he’s not a big time. He thinks of himself as just one of the average guys that happens to run the ball really well.”
Petrone’s punishing rushing style was on full display in South Windsor, plowing through defenders at will during his 27 carries. He also starred defensively, racking up 10 tackles and a key fourth quarter sack.
On his first carry, Petrone ripped off a 48-yard run before scoring two plays later on a 10-yard blast up the middle.
He duplicated his scoring feat on the team’s second possession when he plunged in from a yard out, providing Glastonbury a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
“Our o-line was just firing, we were making the right blocks and, and everything was clicking in the first quarter,” Petrone said of the quick start.
After South Windsor cut the lead in half on an Ethan Laguardia to Devin Decker 32-yard touchdown connection in the closing second of the first half, Petrone and the offense went to work again on the opening possession of the second half.
Luke Shannon returned the opening kickoff of the second half 42 yards, setting up the Guardians with great field position. Seven plays later, Petrone was in the end zone again after breaking several arm tackles and scoring from 11 yards out.
The team’s traded big plays over the next two quarters with Laguardia scoring on a 14-yard quarterback keeper and hitting Sam Meleshenko down the left sideline for a 54 yard scoring strike for South Windsor.
Glastonbury countered when quarterback Drew Curto connected with Derek Thomas on a 45-yard scoring strike.
Kicker Alexander Hernandez also split the uprights on a 32-yard field goal for the Guardians in a wildly entertaining second half.
The home Bobcats threatened to cut it to a one-score game with four minutes left in the regulation, but Petrone shut the door defensively when he sacked Laguardia on fourth down to end the drive just outside of the red zone.
Petrone got most of the glory, yet it was an “unsung hero” that put the finishing touches on the win.
Senior Kevin Delbon, who plays as both the offensive and defensive lines, rumbled eight yards on fourth down to put the game on ice.
On the play, dubbed “Pizza Boy West”, Delbon lined up in the personal protector position on punt formation and took a direct snap before sweeping to the left.
“We have a 280 pound kid that can move his feet pretty well,” Hennessy said of the fake punt call. “When we saw [South Windsor] didn’t have many people to the short side of the field, I said ‘let’s run it’.”
Petrone said it is Delbon and the rest of the line blocking up front that has allowed him to have the success that he has had this season, adding, “I couldn’t do it without them. It’s all because of them that I can do what I do.”
Hennessy agreed, saying that the players in the trenches are leading the way on both game day and in practice.
“We have a saying at practice. We want to get 1% better every single day. They have been able to stack those 1% bricks on top of each other and they have been able to build that foundation,” added Hennessy. “They are doing a great job at being servant leaders. Their job is to serve other people and they do it with a lot of leadership and sacrifice, and it’s impressive.”
Hennessy added that his team entered South Windsor with “a chip on their shoulder.”
After winning the first five games this fall, the Guardians were coming off a loss to winless Hall on Oct. 7 prior to the team’s bye week.
“[The players] had 24 hours to feel disappointed about the Hall game and we should feel disappointed,” Hennessy said of the 21-3 loss.
Petrone added that the 18-point loss gave the team extra motivation heading into South Windsor, saying. “That was a very disappointing loss for us. I think we ended up underestimating them and that came to bite us in the butt.”
Through six games, Petrone has already surpassed his season totals from his all-conference campaign a year ago. He has rushed for 1,281 yards (213.5 average per game) and 13 touchdowns.
Petrone, who is also a standout baseball player and champion downhill skier, admitted that even he’s been surprised by his gaudy number and hopes that the rest of the season is just as fruitful for both him and the team
“We have 22 seniors on this team. We are all fired up,” added Petrone. “We want to do well for our last year.”
So far, so good for the Guardians (5-1), who next have a tough test against the undefeated Knights of Southington (6-0) at Southington High on Friday, Oct. 28. The Central Connecticut bout kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin