By Dave Ruden
PLANTSVILLE— Three months ago he was the unknown quarterback with a unique name, one he admitted once was the impetus for some good-natured teasing.
But nobody is making fun of Silas Wyper anymore. Especially the Darien High School quarterback’s opponents.
The Blue Wave, who will meet New Canaan on Saturday for the Class L championship, may be the least expected of the eight remaining finalists. They also have arguably the most impressive resume given the quality of competition they have played.
After sitting behind Henry Baldwin for two seasons, Wyper said he had huge expectations for both himself and the Blue Wave this fall, even if others were skeptical.
“To be honest I was completely confident in my abilities and the guys’,” Wyper said on Thursday, during the CIAC’s state championship media day. “At the same time others were doubting what we could do as a team, what I could do as an individual player.”
The Blue Wave have answered the disbelievers emphatically. Their last four wins have come against North Haven and New Canaan, which met in last week’s semifinals, then Daniel Hand in the Class L quarterfinals and Middletown in the semifinals. Darien came from behind in all four games.
“I think that’s how you get better,” Wyper said. “It has been win or go home, and we weren’t going home. The guys have been focused and ready to play.”
Darien’s only loss this season was to St. Joseph, another state finalist. The Blue Wave led at halftime before the Cadets scored three straight times.
Darien (12-1) jumped to the top seed in Class L after its 28-24 win over New Canaan, which was ranked No. 1 in the state at the time, on Thanksgiving morning.
It has been one of the state’s most compelling success stories this fall. The Blue Wave, coming off heavy graduation losses, were expected to be an upper echelon team based largely on the program’s previous body of work. Few, however, expected the team to still be playing in December.
There are a number of reasons why, none bigger than the play of Wyper, who has thrown for 2,944 yards and 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 406 yards and 4 scores.
Darien coach Rob Trifone said he got a preview of what was to come last June.
Asked if he was surprised Wyper would be performing at his current level, Trifone said, “I’d be a liar if I said no, but I knew things had progressed rapidly through the offseason. He was in the weight room five to six days a week. He did the passing leagues and speed training. I saw this spring what I thought was going to be a great success story, but you don’t know until you test it. He’s been everything I hoped and then some.”
Wyper is both understated yet assured. He is also one of the fan favorites: a cutout of his head is ever-present in the Darien student section.
“I think my teammates had confidence in me and I had confidence as a starter,” Wyper said. “We may be a surprise, but we’re not surprised. It has been a lot of fun, and just for me the moments that stick out in my mind are when I think about all the fourth-quarter comebacks that we’ve had. I don’t think stats are what defines a quarterback but what they do when it really counts, in the fourth quarter of big games.”
Wyper said the biggest lesson this season came in defeat.
“Ever since the St. Joseph game I learned and we learned what it takes, and the last four games we’ve come back to beat very good football teams.”
Now the mystery quarterback with the distinctive name is a headliner, one win away from leading Darien to a state championship.
“Late in the season it became a tangible object that we could achieve, and that’s the way things have changed a little bit,” Wyper said. “It became a feasible option. We still think New Canaan is one of the best teams in the state. In order to be the best you have to beat the best.”