Where: Boyle Stadium, Stamford
When: Saturday, 11:05 a.m.
Seeds/Records: No. 1 Darien (12-1) vs. No. 3 New Canaan (13-1)
Championship game appearances: New Canaan: 13 (8-4, last title in 2009); Darien: 11 (4-6, last title in 1996).
You should know: The rematch.
These bitter rivals play for the second time this season. Darien knocked off the previously unbeaten Rams 28-24 in the Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving and has won two straight against its rivals after failing to win in 11 previous meetings. The border towns previously faced off in the 2008 Class MM final. New Canaan won that game 2
This game could determine who earns the No. 1 ranking in the final Register Top 10 Poll. Darien coach Rob Trifone said he believes the Rams are the best team in the state.
Darien enters ranked No. 3, while the Rams are No. 4. New Canaan, considered by many to be the state’s most complete team this season, jumped over Ansonia and into the top spot after defeating St. Joseph on Nov. 1 but dropped after losing to the Blue Wave. Darien’s only loss was to St. Joseph, who will play Brookfield for the Class M title.
The Blue Wave, should they defeat New Canaan again, have the resume to warrant a No. 1 ranking. Darien defeated North Haven and the Rams on the road to conclude the regular season and then came from behind to defeat Hand and Middletown in the playoffs.
Darien and New Canaan both play a spread offense similar to each other. Cascione has completed 154 of 266 passes for 2,513 yards and 31 touchdowns against just six interceptions this season. He has targets in receivers Cole Turpin (35 receptions, 596 yards, 9 touchdowns), Jack Gilio (35-496-6) and Alex LaPolice (31-533-9). The Rams’ running game is also strong, led by junior Frank Cognetta (shown at right scoring in the FCIAC final), who has run for 1,170 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The New Canaan defense has shut out both opponents (Farmington, North Haven) its faced in the playoffs. Senior Michael Root (163 tackles, 4.5 sacks), Harris (159 tackles, 5 sacks, three interceptions, 7.5 sacks) and Buck (54 tackles) have excelled defensively, while junior Zach Allen leads the team with 10 sacks and senior Mike DiCosmo has recorded a team-high six interceptions.
Wyper, in his first year as a starter after backing up longtime QB Henry Baldwin, has completed 222 of 361 passes for 2,944 yards and 20 touchdowns. Wyper has also rushed for 406 yards and four scores. Jay Harrison (12 rushing touchdowns) is also a threat out of the backfield. Lombardo, one of the state’s best players, has made 44 receptions for 837 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Blue Wave’s front seven on defense, led by junior George Reed and sophomore Mark Evanchick (shown at right making one of his 14 sacks), are as good as any in the state.
New Canaan leads the all-time series 48-35-2.
Pooch’s pick: New Canaan
SPB’s Pick: New Canaan 28-7
We Meet again…
Darien defeated New Canaan 28-24 in the annual Turkey Bowl at Dunning Field in New Canaan. It ruined New Canaan’s unbeaten season and might have cost the Rams the No. 1 state ranking.
Via the Dave Ruden report: