WHERE/WHEN — Boyle Stadium, Stamford, Saturday, 10 a.m.
TICKETS — $10 everyone
ON THE AIR/WEB — NFHS Network (Subscription required) | WGCH 1490-AM
SEEDS/RECORDS — No. 8 New Canaan 10-2, No. 2 Greenwich 12-0
COACHES — New Canaan: Lou Marinelli, 38th year (331-98-6); Greenwich: John Marinelli, 4th year (35-10).
New Canaan — 17th appearance (12-4)
2016-L def. Windsor 25-20; 2015-L def. North Haven 42-35; 2014-L Small def. Darien 21-20; 2013-L def. Darien 44-12; 2011-L lost to Daniel Hand 34-10; 2010-L lost to Masuk 50-20; 2009-MM def. East Lyme 28-0; 2008-MM def. Darien 26-7; 2007-MM def. Daniel Hand 34-30; 2006-MM def. Maloney 53-21; 2002-M def. Ledyard 21-0; 2001-M def. Seymour 29-6; 2000-M lost to Bloomfield 55-6; 1996-M lost to Killingly 27-13; 1993-M def. Daniel Hand 35-14; 1982-L def. Naugatuck 2012.
Greenwich — 16th appearance (7-8)
2017-LL lost to Darien 31-22; 2007-LL def. Shelton 28-14; 2006-LL def. Southington 38-7; 2004-LL lost to New Britain 39-34; 2002-LL lost to West Haven 30-13; 2001-LL lost to New Britain 26-9; 2000-LL lost to Shelton 22-8; 1999-LL def. Southington 47-27; 1992-LL lost to New Britain 31-15; 1991-LL def. Bulkeley 14-0; 1990-LL def. Danbury 21-6; 1988-LL lost to Fairfield Prep 7-0; 1983-LL def. Notre Dame-West Haven 14-8; 1982-LL lost to Fairfield Prep 18-6; 1981-LL def. Trumbull 14-0.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jr. QB Drew Pyne; Sr. OL/DL Jack Stewart; Sr. OL/DL Jack Conley; Sr. LB/DL Garrett Braden; Sr. WR Quintin O’Connell; Sr. WR Wyatt Wilson; Jr. DB Drew Guida; Sr. RB J.R. Moore.
Both highly touted before the season, old FCIAC rivals clash for the second time this season in a bookend mega state championship matchup.
New Canaan was the preseason No. 1, but promptly lost its first game vs. St. Joseph, 28-0, the first time a New Canaan team had been shut out in 12 years. Four weeks later, the Rams played host to the then-No. 2 Cardinals at Dunning Field. QB Gavin Muir threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more as Greenwich smoked New Canaan 42-14.
While Greenwich went on to post its second-consecutive unbeaten regular season, New Canaan defeated then-No. 1 Darien, 17-14, on Thanksgiving Day to qualify for its 13th-consecutive postseason, but first in Class LL. Their victory elevated Greenwich to No. 1 heading into the playoffs.
The Rams, seeded No. 8, then knocked off top-seeded Shelton, 42-34, and then Fairfield Prep 38-7 to reach the championship game. Greenwich, meanwhile, rolled past New Britain 49-13 and then Newtown, 50-0, to earn its second-consecutive Class LL championship berth.
The game is a showdown between father and son coaches. New Canaan’s Lou Marinelli is Connecticut’s all-time winningest coach with a record 331 victories against 98 losses and 6 ties in 38 seasons at New Canaan. He also owns the most state championships as a coach in state history with 12, including four straight twice — from 2006-2009 and then 2013-2016.
On the other side is Marinelli’s son, John, who was an all-state defensive back and quarterback for his father from 2000-2003 and went on to have a successful playing career at Fordham and Trinity. As a defensive coordinator at New Canaan, he helped coach his father’s teams to consecutive state championships in 2013 and 2014.
John Marinelli became Greenwich’s head coach in 2015 and quickly built Greenwich into a consistent winner. He is 35-10 as head coach and narrowly lost his first state championship appearance 31-22 in the 2017 Class LL championship vs. Darien.
This is the fifth meeting between the Marinellis. Lou won the first two matchups, 24-14 in 2015 and 40-16 in 2016 on the way to winning the last of four-consecutive state titles. John’s teams have turned the tide the last two seasons, winning 36-21 in 2017 and, this year, 42-14 on Oct. 5.
The Cardinals are on the cusp of completing, statistically, the best season in school history. They’re led, offensively, by senior two-year starter Gavin Muir, who has thrown for 2,215 yards and 28 touchdowns against just six interceptions this year, while also rushing for 238 yards and 7 TDs.
Senior back Tysen Comizio is one of Greenwich’s top weapons with 890 yards of total offense and a team-leading 15 TDs. Receivers Lance Large, Stephen Bennett and sophomore A.J. Barber, the son of New York Giants great Tiki Barber, have each caught 7 TD passes.
Defensively, Greenwich has allowed a mere 54 points this year, including five shutouts. Senior defensive end Mozi Bici is one of the state’s leaders with 16 1/2 sacks, eight of which came in a 33-3 victory over Ridgefield. He’s the cornerstone of a dominant defensive line alongside Eddy Luteri (8 sacks), Joe Kraninger and Emilio Camou (7 1/2 sacks, each). Jack Feda leads the linebacking corps, averaging 9.9 tackles per game. Ryan Raybuck (5 INTs) and Evan Weigold (4) man a tough secondary.
They face a New Canaan offense that averages 350 yards per game. Junior QB Drew Pyne, a Notre Dame commit, has thrown for 2,486 yards and 30 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions. His top target is Quintin O’Connell, who has caught 84 passes for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns, becoming the school’s all-time leading receiver in the process.
New Canaan has also found a run game, absent in the first meeting. J.R. Moore has run for 364 yards and two touchdowns the last three games. New Canaan is also noted for having two NCAA FBS commits at tackle in Jack Conley (6-foot-8, 290, Boston College) and Jack Stewart (6-5, 275, Michigan).
Defensively, Garrett Braden, a 6-2, 230-pound LB/DE committed to play at Rice, is a team leader in tackles (55) and sacks (6 1/2) alongside Stewart (49 tackles) and senior Kiran Buck (52 tackles). Senior Ben Schneider leads the linebacking corps with 61 tackles. Junior Dan Guida leads the secondary with six interceptions and sophomore defensive back Chris Canet leads the team in tackles with 68.
SPB’S PICK – Greenwich
PETE’S PICK – Greenwich
SCOTT’S PICK – New Canaan
CALPREPS PROJECTION – Greenwich 31-17