New Canaan (14-1, Class L Champion)
Saturday, November 22 at TBA
TOP PLAYERS TO WATCH
- AUSTIN LONGI, RB/DB, Greenwich — Ran for over 1,300 yards in his last 6 games; Committed to Fordham. All-State
- MARK EVANCHICK, DE, Darien — Junior is state’s top-returning pass rusher with 14 sacks. All-State
- ZACH ALLEN, DE, New Canaan — The state’s 2nd top-returning pass-rusher with 11 ½ sacks. Northwestern commit. All-State.
- LARS PEDERSEN, WR, St. Joseph — Cornell commit, caught 60 passes for 1,059 yards and 16 TDs. All-State.
- ALEX LaPOLICE, WR, New Canaan — Havard commit caught 35 passes for 619 yards and 10 TDs. All-State
- MUFASHA ABDUL-BASIR, RB, St. Joseph — State’s second top returning rusher with 2,481 yards and 30 TDs. All-State
- SCOOTER HARRINGTON, LB/TE, Greenwich — 6-foot-5, 245-pound end has offers from Virginia, UConn, Boston College and Yale.
- THOMAS COSTIGAN, LB/RB, Trinity Catholic — Senior Bryant commit is a beast and had 50 solo tackles for winless Crusaders.
- EVAN ADAMS, OL/DL, Norwalk — 6-foot-6, 275-pound OG/NG is committed to Syracuse.
- BRENDAN BISACK, QB, Fairfield Warde — Tall, two-year starter threw for 1,341 yards a year ago.
- GRIFFIN ROSS, WR/DB, Darien — The state’s second top-receiving leader with 18 catches for 1,061 yards, 6 TDs.
- TEDDY COOGAN, QB/DB, Staples – Moves from receiver to take over for four-year QB Jack Massie after starring as a receiver last season.
- GEORGE REED, DE, Darien — Teams that run away from Evanchick will have to face this senior, who had five sacks and was a terror a season ago.
- TIM GRAHAM, QB, Darien — Junior, 6-foot-4 QB assumes starter role from graduated Silas Wyper and is the key to Darien’s success.
- RYAN DUNN, QB, Ridgefield — Threw for 2,371 yards, 27 TDs in last year’s semifinal run. One of Tigers’ few returning starters.
- GRIFFIN TIEDY, SS, Greenwich – The hard-hitting senior is the Cardinals’ center fielder and is poised for a big season.
- MYKEL MORRIS, QB, Central — Do-it-all back accounted for 2,097 total yards, one of the lone bright spots for the Hilltoppers in their 1-10 season.
- JACK KELLY, LB, Trumbull — Had 82 tackles and five sacks, leads Trumbull’s D.
- TIMMY HINTON, RB/DB, McMahon — The Senators’ featured back in the Wing-T, ran for 810 yards and 12 TDs.
- ANFRENY ITH, QB, Danbury — Threw for 1,736 yards and 16 TDs as a junior. Coach Mark Ecke and the Hatters will ride him as far as they can.
The Blue Wave have the most talent returning from last year’s run to the Class L championship, including WR/DB Griffin Ross a strong offensive line and one of the state’s best defenses. Ends Mark Evanchik and George Reed will play a cruel game of ‘Meet me in the Middle.’ The only question is new quarterback Timmy Graham and who’ll replace star back Nick Lombardo. Darien has had no problems breaking in new players over the years. Consider them it until proven otherwise, which might come early with matchups at Greenwich and vs. St. Joseph.
Austin Longi (Fordham) is one of the state’s most electrifying tailbacks. QB Matt Marzulla has a year under his belt. Junior Division I prospect Scooter Harrington is rock on defense and an outstanding receiver. Teidy is a force in the defensive backfield. The Cardinals are clearly a challenger. Yet, Greenwich’s season will hinge on the season’s first three games: at West Haven, vs. Darien, at New Canaan.
Uncertainty pervades around the defending league and Class L champs, who lost 28 seniors. The Great Wall of Waveny (heh, we just thought of that now) has been dismantled by graduation save for outstanding pass rusher Zach Allen (Northwestern). But OC Johnny Marinelli’s ‘Showtime’ offense should still ring up the scoreboard, but still has to deal with a new QB in Mike Collins, top-returning RB Frank Cognetta’s broken foot and all-state kicker Peter Swindell also out with injury. WR and Harvard commit Alex LaPolice is poised for a big year. Despite all of that (whew) New Canaan hasn’t been one of the state’s winningest programs over the last decade for nothing.
The Hogs bring back the state’s best 1-2 duo of RB Mufasha Abdul-Basir and WR Lars Pedersen (Cornell), who accounted for half of the team’s record-breaking offense. They lost all-state QB Jordan Vazzano and much of their size and experience on the lines and must now tailor the offense around new QB Kevin Sheftz. Defense could be a strength, particularly with the newcomer Cam Ryan at LB. Like Greenwich, St. Joseph’s season will begin or end in the season’s first-four weeks (at ND-WH, vs. Fairfield Prep, at Ridgefield, at Darien).
Teddy Coogan slides over from receiver to quarterback to run the Staples’ offense, which has a veteran offensive line and will look like the Wreckers of state championship past with an option attack. CHSCA Hall-of-Fame coach Marce Petroccio says the defense will be fast and aggressive behind Jackson Ward, Nick Esposito and Jackson Hoebermann. WR/DB Jake Melnick should be a weapon on both sides. The Wreckers start at home vs. Xavier, but their season will ultimately hinge laster in the year when they play at New Canaan and Thanksgiving at Greenwich.
Here mostly because it features one of the most experienced returning squads. The Bears look big and Syracuse commit Evan Adams should be a problem for most teams. They’ll need to figure out who’s running the show at QB and there’ll be a slight learning curve with new coach Pat Moffett. But they could wind up being this year’s McMahon.
Are big up front, feature 6-foot-5 QB in Brendan Bisack and back T.J. Gallagher. The jury’s still out on whether the Mustangs can win a big game. They’ve come close over the years, but haven’t pulled one out yet.
The Tigers lost just about everybody and then lost John Turner for the season with a torn ACL. QB Ryan Dunn and his fellow senior captains lead a young team. Maybe we’re going off reputation here, but it’s at team that should find itself by season’s end.
TOP-5 MUST-SEE LEAGUE GAMES
DARIEN at GREENWICH, Friday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. (Week 2) — The FCIAC race to unseat New Canaan gets started early for these two heavyweights in Greenwich. Darien smoked the Cardinals in last year’s matchup, 42-21 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
GREENWICH at NEW CANAAN, Saturday, Sept. 23, 1:30 p.m. (Week 3) — See above, now add a bit more urgency of Greenwich, especially if it wasn’t able to take down Darien the week before. The Cardinals haven’t beaten New Canaan in three meetings since 2006. They’re 0-3, including last year’s 66-20 embarrassment at home. Suffice it to say, Greenwich’s playoff drive will begin or end here.
ST. JOSEPH at DARIEN, Saturday, Oct. 2, 1: 30 p.m. (Week 4) — This is the end of a brutal stretch for both teams, but especially for St. Joseph, which will have played Notre Dame-WH, Fairfield Prep and Ridgefield leading up to this clash. Despite Darien’s status as the favorite, this game is never easy to predict and the underdog typically always wins. St. Joseph rode Abdul-Basir to a 28-14 win last season.
STAPLES at NEW CANAAN, Friday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m. (Week 7) — What’s up, Wreckers? Is Staples ready to return to the top of the FCIAC heap, or will it be road-kill for the Rams again in the rematch of last year’s 43-7 rout? If the Wreckers perform to expectations, they’ll be right in the hunt when they arrive at Dunning Stadium. Here’s where we’ll find out if they’re for real.
NEW CANAAN ST. JOSEPH, Saturday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m. (Week 8) — There’s a chance that this rematch won’t pack the hype of last year’s battle of unbeaten teams. But it’s still going to be critical given its late date and the fact that the game is usually a must-see no matter what. St. Joseph got hammered in the regular season matchup and also lost to the Rams in the FCIAC title game.
SCC/FCIAC CHALLENGE PART DEUX: The FCIAC will face off with the SCC in the heralded FCIAC/SCC Challenge in Week 1. The FCIAC won the challenge week last year, 9-8, and took the overall crossovers played during the rest of the season 14-10. Norwalk and Westhill, which play each other in a non-conference game Week 1, do not participate. Ridgefield vs. Cheshire, Harding vs. Law kick off the second round on Wednesday. …NEW COACHES: Mark Ecke’s hire at Danbury was the only major coaching change in the FCIAC in 2014. Norwalk assistant Patrick Moffett did replace of Sean Ireland and Eddie Santiago is assuming control at Harding. However, Moffett will coach the Bears on an interim basis since Ireland is expected to return next year and Santiago coached the Presidents’ final eight games when Jack Cochran didn’t return. …LIGHTS ON: St. Joseph could have lights on its campus come its Week 8 clash with New Canaan. Another vote in Trumbull is set for Sept. 17, but it should pass. …St. Joseph is also hoping to play its Week 2 game with Fairfield Prep at a neutral site, probably Sacred Heart University. …END OF AN ERA? Could this be the end of the FCIAC Championship game? The CIAC’s new playoff guidelines for 2015 will shorten future regular season to 10 games and, for the first time, will include league finals in the equation. While the NVL has eliminated the game and the SWC will eliminate it after this year, the FCIAC brass still hasn’t decided on what to do. The final has been played every year since 1966. This year’s game will be played on Saturday at a time and place yet to be determined. … SWAN SONG: This will be the 22nd and final year that Bassick and Harding will play in the FCIAC. The Bridgeport Board of Education approved the two schools’ move to the CSC next year.
Team Preview Capsules
- Bridgeport Central
- Fairfield Ludlowe
- Fairfield Warde
- New Canaan
- St. Joseph
- Trinity Catholic