Oct
12

Commentary: After 5 Games, Has New Canaan Been Too Good?

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There has been a lot of celebrating by New Canaan during a 5-0 start. (Photo: Chris Cody)

 By Dave Ruden

NEW CANAAN — Maybe it just seemed like Bill Brown was the hardest working member of the New Canaan High School football program on Saturday afternoon.

Brown doesn’t throw, catch, block or hit. He is the Rams’ equipment manager, in charge of working with the officials to get balls in and out of games.

The Rams scored seven touchdowns in the first 20 minutes against Danbury, then coasted to a “score-managed” 49-7 win.

After the fourth touchdown, as kicker Peter Swindell lined up for the extra point, Brown’s voice could be heard above the din: “Don’t kick the ball over the fence, please.”

Such is life for the Rams as they finished off what the players and coaches said they hope is just the first third of the season — assuming they will be playing for both FCIAC and state titles. Thus far, there has been no evidence to the contrary.

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New Canaan’s Graham Wagner makes a touchdown catch Saturday against Danbury. (Photo: Chris Cody)

The Rams jumped on Danbury early before the threat of a 50-plus point homecoming victory and losing coach Lou Marinelli next week to a one-game suspension was cause to take the foot off the gas.

“We were really hyped up,” said Connor Buck, the defensive lineman who is usually hyped 24/7. “We just wanted to put on a show for all the fans and alumni.”

New Canaan, at 5-0, has been putting on a show since opening night. It is averaging 52 points; the average margin of victory is 32.6 points.

To the Rams’ credit, they have yet to play down to the level of the opposition. The starters go all-out, even if all-out often means for just a half — or less.

“They’ve always come out and done it,” Marinelli said. “It will be interesting to see as we go forward how we’re going to meet the adversity we are going to face.”

At this point, that is the biggest question facing the Rams, and a reasonable one to raise: have they been too good? By winning easily, and with the starters often spending the second half sharing laughs on the bench, should there be a concern that the Rams could be at a disadvantage for upcoming games against Staples, St. Joseph and Darien, teams that have been tested.

Marinelli admitted it is a point he has both pondered and is unconcerned about.

“You need to be in a game,” Marinelli said, “but if we run the table, that would be pretty good too. The great thing about this group is they practice really hard.”

The New Canaan players, as one would expect, are enjoying the ride, pleased by what they have accomplished thus far and eager to capitalize on the opportunities that await.

“I’ve got no problem with what is happening,” said Teddy Bossidy, the versatile player who scored on a 1-yard sneak in the goal-line package Saturday and is one of the leaders in the secondary. “Something we have is an incredible amount of depth, so every day in practice we’re getting after each other.”

The players have remained remarkably level-headed to date. They know they are good, but don’t show it. More importantly, they know how good they can be, how special this fall can be, and want dreams to morph into reality.

“We’re not letting it get to our heads,” Buck said. “We’re not going to take anything for granted.”

Buck said his preference would be to see more action. In the meantime, he and the other seniors may have been doing more coaching than Marinelli in the second halves of games.

“It gets a little boring on the sideline,” Buck said. “I’m not a fan of being on the sideline, but as long as we get the big win. Now and then we have to talk to the young ones to make they know everything before they go out there.”

Marinelli has yet to get on his players during games for not going all out. There have been no lapses.

But the games will soon get much more difficult over — if the Rams are correct — the last two-thirds of the season.

“If they are in a fight they are going to have to compete,” Marinelli said. “So far they have competed. Let’s see what happens. I’m going to be concerned when we do get into a game, but let’s find out.”

 

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