WILTON — During the past few seasons the Darien football team has done a remarkable job of concentrating on the task at hand. That’s not always easy, especially with the annual showdown against rival New Canaan looming later this month.
Teams such as the Wilton Warriors are ready to take full advantage of any Blue Wave distractions.
Wilton (4-4) gave No. 1 Darien (8-0) all it could handle before the Blue Wave finally turned on the jets in the second half and picked up a 34-13 victory Friday night at Tom Fujitani Field in Wilton.
Head coach Rob Trifone didn’t mince words when talking about the Wave’s performance.
“It was not very good and I told them that,” Trifone said. “We’re in a tough part of the season. We rose to the occasion against St. Joe’s and a very good Staples team and then our kids look at our schedule between now and the Turkey Bowl, and they’re thinking these are just .500 teams. They have to regroup and figure out where’s that mojo they had against St. Joe’s and against Staples.”
The feeling was a bit different on the opposite sideline.
“I was really impressed with the way my kids played,” Wilton head coach E.J. Dinunzio said. “Darien is coached so well and they don’t do things wrong, but we thought we had a shot to stay with them in the first half. We had some success running it early. In the long run, they’re just a really good team and we came up a little short.”
The Wave’s running attack changed the game in the second half, as the combination of Andrew Lucas and Will Kirby, each of whom scored twice, chewed up time and yardage.
It looked like typical Darien game early on. The Wave defense forced a punt on Wilton’s first possession before the offense covered 60 yards for a touchdown. A 29-yard strike from quarterback Cooper Hancock to receiver Peter Bredahl started the drive, and a 1-yard TD run by Kirby ended it with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter.
Wilton hung tough. The offense, led by a secondary which featured Dean DiNanno, Reilly Bingaman and Thomas Costello, kept the Wave passing game in check. Meanwhile, the offense ate up chunks on the ground behind Kyle Phillips and Jack Dexter.
Quarterback Jim O’Brien then connected with Kyle Hyzy for a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The kick failed, but the Warriors trailed by just a 7-6 margin.
Wilton forced a Darien punt, but on the third play of the ensuing drive, John Henry Slonieski gave the Wave a big defensive play, hammering O’Brien from behind and jarring the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by Alex Quirk at the Darien 49-yard line. Darien capitalized when Kirby scored on a 2-yard run with 39.1 seconds on the clock.
The Wave came out in the second half with a quick score, aided by a Wilton penalty on the kickoff which allowed Darien to start at the Warriors’ 49. Led by Lucas, Darien marched down the field and scored on a 5-yard run by Will Rolapp for a 21-6 lead.
The Wave’s ground game really turned the tide as they alternated between Lucas and Kirby.
“That’s a blessing that we have along with all good receivers,” Trifone said. “The combination of Andrew and Will is a nice thing to have.”
The teams traded turnovers to start the fourth quarter, with Wilton’s Bingaman getting his second interception of the game, and then Darien linebacker Connor Fay recovering a fumble on the next play. Lucas then carried the ball in for a 2-yard TD and a 28-6 lead.
A 43-yard punt return by Tyler Herget set up the Wave’s next touchdown — a 3-yard run by Lucas — and Wilton answered with the game’s final score on a 1-yard plunge by Phillips with 3:23 remaining.
For the Wave, the key now is getting focused from the start.
“We’ve got to get more focused and more hyped in the beginning of games,” Lucas said. “I feel like we’re not coming out until halftime and that’s not working against good teams.”
“I am so proud of these guys, I can’t tell you,” Dinunzio said of his Warriors. “We’re only the second team to score twice against these guys, and they are so solid. They’re a well-coached team and a talented team, so it was a privilege to be able to coach and play against them the way we did.”
DARIEN 34, WILTON 13
DARIEN 7 7 7 13 — 34
WILTON 0 6 0 7 — 13
- D — Will Kirby, 1-yard run (Kirby PAT)
- W — Will Kyzy, 21-yard pass from Jim O’Brien (PAT failed)
- D — Will Kirby, 2-yard run (Kirby PAT)
- D — Will Rolapp, 5-yard run (Kirby PAT)
- D — Andrew Lucas, 2-yard run (Kirby PAT)
- D — Lucas, 3-yard run (PAT failed)
- W — Kyle Phillips, 1-yard run (Max Colburn PAT)