Grip It and Rip It is inherently focused on the near future, but at times it’s about the past.
Michael Collins, who quarterbacked New Canaan to back-to-back state championships in 2014-15 was on the sidelines for some of the Rams’ games on Friday.
Collins, who was a college quarterback for Penn, TCU and, most recently, Rice, said the tournament brings back memories.
“This has been going on forever,” Collins said. “I remember coming here when I was in middle school and watching the kids play, so there’s a lot of memories. It’s awesome and it’s a lot of fun. Coach Marinelli is the best, so being able to help him out is great.”
Marinelli was happy to have his former quarterback, who holds a share of the state record for career touchdown passes in a game with nine against Trumbull in 2015, on hand to talk to the players.
“A Div. I quarterback who’s played at the Ivies, at TCU in the Big 12 and played at Rice where he lit it up, and now he comes back and he’s helping us,” Marinelli said. “He’s interested in what our quarterbacks are doing and how he can help.”
New Canaan has had a great run of quarterbacks, starting with Curt Casali, now a baseball catcher for San Francisco, and winding through Charlie Westfal, Nate Quinn, Turner Baty, Willie Ouellette, Matt Milano, Nick Cascione, Collins and Drew Pyne, who is at Notre Dame.
New Canaan has two QBs on varsity this year — senior Henry Cunney and junior Ty Groff — and each had looks today as the Rams fielded two teams.
Marinelli said Cunney is the senior, so he has the inside track for the starting job.
“He looks really good,” Collins said of Cunney. “He’s a really good kid, he’s sharp back there and it was cool to see him play. Cunney looked good, he’s set up for a good year, and New Canaan looked pretty efficient.”
As for the Rams’ long run of great quarterbacks, Collins said it’s about the coaching.
“It all comes back to the coaches and how good they are at developing,” Collins said. “Coach Marinelli has been here 40-plus years and he’s seen it all. He helped me out so much throughout my whole career, not just in high school, but in college too. His son Johnny and all the coaches they’ve had here are so good at developing players and getting the most out of them.”