Harris leads No. 2 New Canaan in a 66-20 rout of Greenwich

GREENWICH >> New Canaan linebacker Cole Harris doesn’t have much use for offense. Sure, he’ll play there in a pinch. But defense is his love and his passion.

“It’s hitting and tackling, that’s what the game’s all about,” he said. “And I can do that a whole lot more on defense than offense.”

Besides, as Harris amply demonstrated Saturday in an anticipated FCIAC clash with rival Greenwich, you can always score on defense.

Harris, a 6-foot, 211-pound all-state linebacker, returned an interception for a touchdown and blocked a punt which led to another touchdown as New Canaan scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter in a 66-20 rout of Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium.

Nick Cascione ran for three touchdowns in the first half and threw a pair of touchdowns in the second as New Canaan, the No. 2 team in the GameTimeCT.com/New Haven Register poll, improved to 3-0.

While much of the postgame talk centered on New Canaan’s offensive afternoon, it was Harris and the New Canaan defense which made it all happen.

“It’s defense that turned this thing around,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “We’re over there trying to figure out (offensive) schemes, this, that and the other thing and we turned around and we’re scoring.”

Greenwich (1-2) mustered no more than 50 yards of offense in the first half and didn’t score an offensive touchdown until New Canaan had a 46-point lead in the second half.

After an anxious first quarter during which Greenwich hung around thanks to Austin Longi’s 75-yard kickoff return touchdown, Harris — almost single-handedly — turned the game on its ear.

He picked off a lob pass throw by Greenwich quarterback Jose Melo and took it 25-yards the other way. On Greenwich’s next possession, Harris blocked a punt which was scooped by teammate Cass Knox and taken for a 12-yard touchdown.

In a blink, the score went from 17-6 to 31-6.

“He just has a knack for coming up with a big play,” Marinelli said of Harris. “He has a good sense of where his drops are and where the ball is going. I’m glad he’s playing for us, I can tell you that.”

New Canaan intercepted Melo twice more before the half ended. Mike DiCosmo’s pick led to Nick Cascione’s third touchdown run of the day and a 38-6 halftime lead. Robby Paul also had an interception.

“It certainly makes my job easier when (the defense) is putting points on the board,” Cascione said. “I can kind of catch my breath, get my arm warmed up and just go out and execute.”

Alex LaPolice added a 29-yard touchdown pass from Cascione to start another onlsaught of points in the third quarter. It was 52-6 before Greenwich scored again.

Melo, who had a rough afternoon at quarterback, was moved to receiver in the second half and caught a touchdown pass. After rallying to beat West Haven in the season-opener, the Cardinals have lost two straight by a combined score of 108-41.

Afterward, Marinelli took several stunned glances at the scoreboard. “It doesn’t happen very often down here, I can tell you that,” he said.

After outscoring its opponents 158-61 in three victories, New Canaan is beginning to feel something special is afoot.

Then again, they say they’re far from perfect.

“We can do a whole lot better,” Harris said. “…And that’s scary.”

New Canaan 10 28 14 14 — 66
Greenwich 6 0 13 0 — 20

NC– Peter Swindell 32 field goal
G–Austin Longi 75 kickoff return (kick failed)
NC–Nick Cascione 4 run (Swindell kick)
Second quarter
NC–Cascione 4 run (Swindell kick)
NC–Cole Harris 25 interception return (Swindell kick)
NC–Cass Knox 12 punt block return (Swindell kick)
NC–Cascione 6 run (Swindell kick)
Third quarter
NC–Alex LaPolice 29 pass Cascione (Swindell kick)
NC–Frank Cognetta 13 run (Swindell kick)
G–Tom Rappa 15 run (pass failed)
G–Jose Melo 14 pass Matt Marzulla (Peter Heerdt kick)
Fourth quarter
NC–Jack Gilio 31 pass Cascione (Swindell kick)
NC– Morgan Carson 8 run (Swindell kick)
Team records: New Canaan 3-0, Greenwich 1-2


  1. Big Dog says

    Either NC is that good or Greenwich is that bad?NC still has Joes,Darien,Staples left…If they run the table it would be very hard to deny them #1 based on schedule strength ect….Even our Ansonia friends would have a hard time disputing that[well maybe not Ray]but any other sensible HS fan….Would not be surprised to see media shake up the top two after this week….Ansonia’s opponent’s have a combined one win with Wilby this week….

  2. RAY BROWN says

    definitely impressive vs a greenwich team thats given up 170 points in 3 games—-thats 50 points a game for you experts—-throw in bassick and a down hand team—–not so fast big dog

  3. Pat McGroin says

    well, 129 points in three games, but who is counting… A down hand and a down Greenwich is still better competition you’ll find in the NVL this year.

  4. Pat McGroin says

    New Canaan has the states TWO best linebackers, best defensive lineman, and the best outside backer…. not to mention their offense…. Anyone here think Ansonia’s D can stop a passing attack?

    • jwr says

      NC looks like the team to beat this year. How do you beat the combo of talent O, talent on D and arguably the finest coaching staff in the state. Could be 2008 all over again!

    • wave says

      Best d-linemen and best OLB is most definitely pushing it there. Buck is an athlete, not a football player; he’s probably not even the best d-linemen in the FCIAC.
      I’ll give you this, Root and Harris are most definitely the best combination of inside backers are in the state.

  5. says

    NC is very good at stopping a one dimensional team with the talent they have. Ansonia has the best running back in the state but is that enough for a shoot out .Unless Ansonia’s secondary can handle NC passing attack,they might have trouble keeping up.Keep in mind NC has only played the first string for maybe three quarters per game.For now who’s number one or two really doesn’t matter.Both teams will be tested with quality teams.Lets see how the season plays out.The only time you can have an argument about who’s number one is if they both run the table.

  6. RAY BROWN says

    fan——-best way to slow down high powered game is to run the ball which ansonia can do vs anybody—-they also have atheletes in secondary——–and the one deciding factor——-speed

  7. fciac jr says

    Top two teams in CT are NC and St Joes. Joes demolished a very good Ridgefield team. That will be the game of the year in a few weeks as long as Joe doesn’t have a let down against Darien this week. What a great season this is already turning out to be with the Cadets on fire.

    • wave says

      Sorry, but that Ridgefield team was not “very good”; they’re an above average team that’s nothing special besides Bonaparte. One dimensional offense and a slow defense.

  8. jeb says

    Staples, St. Joes, and Darien remain on NC’s schedule…could lose one or two of those games. How Greenwich beat West Haven is still a mystery to all of us football fans. If Ansonia, New Canaan or Darien run the table then the voters will have a hard time chosing the states best team. One thing is for certain (Ansonia has no chance of losing) terrific matchups loom.

  9. Big Dog says

    The last time Ansonia had the best R.B[Dobbs] and best O line I recall them losing to another team similar to NC….Not sure if NC has that battering ram that Matakevich was but again these are the type of teams that Ansonia would have a tough time matching up with…

  10. RAY BROWN says

    wrong again big dog—–dobbs was a beast but he was running behind what was essentially a j.v. line====this teams combo of rb–oline mirrors the great thomas o-line team that trashed cochran and new london

  11. Big Dog says

    Wags…We Keep hearing how great the “O”Lines are…..For S and NVL they are great…Besides the 1 kid that went to Uconn for a cup a coffee where are these great kids playing?I see one at SCSU…Where did the horses from the great Tinney and Thomas teams go?Again,they are great for CT standards but that’s all they are great HS lineman.I am assuming your son will have a better chance to play in college as a pitcher?

  12. Big Dog says

    Also Ray Ray,I am a Uconn grad….Thrilled to see Arkell come here…Putting it all in perspective he is only a 3 star recuit…For as much as you guy’s pump him up he is rated #101 in his posistion…At Uconn that’s all we get…A 4 star is very rare….BTW SPB great day for Uconn football today.

  13. jeb says

    Hate to say this but every team in the NVL would beat Stamford, Trinity and Westhill. Stamford football ( which use to be the best in the state) is way down and might be down for some time.

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