NEW BRITAIN >> It’s a performance any father would be proud of.
Christian Trifone and his twin brother, Bobby, both returned interceptions for touchdowns while their father, Rob, the Darien head coach, watched from the sidelines.
The Trifone twins played a key role in bringing a title back to Darien after a lengthy drought. The second-seeded Blue Wave dominated throughout in a 39-7 victory over No. 1 Shelton Saturday at Veterans Field.
“He’s been coaching us and teaching us since third grade,” Christian Trifone said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to do it with.”
It was the fifth title for the unbeaten Blue Wave (12-0), but first since 1996. Darien had lost in its last six trips to a final, including the last two years to FCIAC rival New Canaan in Class L. Rob Trifone won his second state title after guiding McMahon to the Class MM crown in 1994.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Rob Trifone said. “These boys and their coach are on Cloud 9.”
Christian Trifone returned his interception 20 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
“It definitely got the butterflies out,” Christian Trifone said. “We were anxious. We knew our game plan but to get that out of the way, put a score up early, that really helped our defense out.”
Darien senior defensive end Mark Evanchick, the Gatorade state player of the year, laid a hard hit on Shelton quarterback Zach Tuskowski that helped force the interception. Tuskowski left the game and did not return after breaking his collarbone.
“That was a tough start to the game,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said.
Senior Tim Graham connected with Hudson Hamill on a 3-yard touchdown with 8:49 left in the first quarter.
Bobby Trifone then scored on a 48-yard interception return to give the Blue Wave an 18-0 lead at halftime.
“Our kids kept battling,” Roy said. “They kept coming and kept coming. We held in there in that first half and I’m proud of our kids the way they played, they didn’t let the injuries affect them. We just kept playing hard and doing what we do. Give credit to Darien, they’re an excellent football team, and they deserve the No. 1 team in the state.”
Shelton was already playing without receivers Chris Kanios and Sam Kirk and running back Peter Hoff. Kanios and Kirk both broke a leg during the regular season, while Hoff did the same in a quarterfinal victory over West Haven.
The Gaels fell short in the state final for the second straight year. Shelton lost to SCC rival Xavier in the Class LL-Small championship game last season.
“I’m tremendously proud of them,” Roy said. “They made it a goal to get back here. These kids worked hard. I have a great group of seniors, great group of football players. I’m proud of each and everyone of them and they should hold their head high after their performance this year. We’ve been throughout a lot as a team injury-wise and I’m proud of them.”
Shelby Grant scored on runs of 5 and 6 yards in the third quarter for the Blue Wave. Graham and Hudson connected again, this time on a 37-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter to put Darien up 39-0.
Graham completed 19 of 29 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice. Hamill caught eight passes for 90 yards.
Kevin Robison caught a 24-yard touchdown from David Wells for the Gaels in the fourth quarter. Robinson made six receptions for 86 yards.
Mark Schmidt made 13 tackles and an interception and Evanchick had seven tackles and two sacks in the win.
“I think it was a great overall defensive performance,” Evanchick said. “You can’t ask for much better; only gave up one touchdown. It was fantastic.”
Darien 39, Shelton 7
(at New Britain)
Darien 12 6 14 7 — 39
Shelton 0 0 0 7 — 7
D—Christian Trifone 20 int ret (kick blocked)
D—Hudson Hamill 3 pass from Tim Graham (pass failed)
D—Robert Trifone 48 int ret (pass failed)
D—Shelby Grant 5 run (Riley Stewart kick)
D—Shelby Grant 7 run (Stewart kick)
D—Hudson Hamill 37 pass from Tim Graham (Stewart kick)
S—Kevin Robinson 24 pass from David Wells (Joe Zoppi kick)
Team records: Shelton 12-1; Darien 12-0