Former Wreckers soaring with Middlebury football

Brendan Rankowitz, Middlebury football junior. (Middlebury Athletics Photo)

Two former football stars from Staples High School are tearing up the stat sheets for the Middlebury Panthers this season.

Brendan Rankowitz and Joey Zelkowitz are two of the Panthers’ leading receivers through three games, as the team owns a 2-1 record.

Rankowitz, a 6-0, 197-pound junior, is second on the team in receptions with 22 and is third in receiving yards with 216. He’s also the team leader in kickoff returns with a 22.2 average on nine attempts.

Zelkowitz, a 5-9, 175-pound freshman, has 21 receptions for 197 yards and one TD. Zelkowitz was the MVP of last year’s FCIAC football championship game, when he had a league record 317 rushing yards in Staples’ 48-30 win over Greenwich.

Middlebury opened the fall with wins over Bowdoin and Colby during the first two weeks.

Middlebury College freshman Joey Zelkowitz. (Middlebury Athletics Photo)

Against Bowdoin in a 27-5 Middlebury win, Rankowitz had six catches for 39 yards, while Zelkowitz had five catches for 69 yards, including an 18-yard TD catch.

Against Colby in the Panthers’ home opener, a 27-10 victory, Zelkowitz caught six passes for 53 yards, and Rankowitz caught five passes for 37 yards.

On Saturday, Middlebury suffered its first loss of the season when it fell at Amherst, 37-16.

The two former Wreckers combined for 21 receptions and more than 200 yards in that game, as quarterback McCallum Foote threw an NCAA Div. III record 84 passes, completing 54 of those for 459 yards. Foote had two TDs and five interceptions.

Rankowitz was the top receiver in the game, catching 11 passes for 140 yards, while Zelkowitz caught 10 passes for 75 yards.

The Middlebury roster features two more former FCIAC standouts, as sophomore Matt Milano of New Canaan is a backup quarterback, and sophomore Guilherne Araujo of Norwalk is a defensive lineman.

Middlebury will look to get back on the winning side of the ledger when it hosts Williams at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12.