Commentary: Rams Reach Goal Of Going Out The Right Way


Cole Turpin looks to gain extra yards after one of his four catches for New Canaan during Saturday's 44-12 Class L win over Darien. (Photo: Mark Conrad)
Cole Turpin looks to gain extra yards after one of his four catches for New Canaan during Saturday’s 44-12 Class L win over Darien. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

By Dave Ruden

STAMFORD — Of all the dissection following New Canaan’s 44-12 rout of Darien in Saturday’s Class L championship game, the most on target came from Rob Trifone, the Blue Wave’s coach.

“Most people in the state of Connecticut can’t beat that team once, and you’re asking us to beat them twice,” Trifone said.

Trifone was referring, of course, to the Blue Wave’s 28-24 Turkey Bowl win, a nice consolation prize for a team that easily soared over preseason expectations.

Truth be told, it is doubtful anyone was going to beat a driven New Canaan team in the snow at Boyle Stadium on Saturday. The fact that the opponent was the Rams’ arch-rival, which had already swiped their chances at a perfect season, just made them a more prohibitive underdog.

“With the amount of seniors we have on our defense, we knew this was our last game together and we wanted to go out the right way,” said linebacker Michael Root, who was the shining star of a defense that overpowered a very good offense.

Darien quarterback Silas Wyper was on the run all day, forced into a 10-of-34, 107-yard performance. He spent too much time on his back making snow angels by a relentless pass rush from a defense that chose the biggest stage to play its most complete game.

“Darien’s a great program,” Root said. “I give them credit. I’d probably say today was our best.”

New Canaan's Michael Root sacks Darien quarterback Silas Wyper during Saturday's game. (Photo: Mark Conrad)
New Canaan’s Michael Root sacks Darien quarterback Silas Wyper during Saturday’s game. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

A lot was made after the game about whether New Canaan or Ansonia, which finished an unbeaten season Friday night with the Class S title, is the best team in Connecticut.

The Rams finished 14-1, a school record for wins in a season.

Trifone threw his hat into the ring, casting his mythical vote for the Rams.

“This is the No. 1 team in the state,” Trifone said. “I know the people in the valley don’t want to hear it.”

New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said he wished the two teams could meet next weekend at Yale Bowl.

The topic made for great debate wherever New Canaan partisans went to celebrate after the game. But truth be told, it is all moot. How many people really remember which team was voted No. 1 in past years?

It is the championships that are remembered, and Marinelli won his ninth, the most by any coach in state history.

“This is like a dream,” Marinelli said, talking about his team, not his accomplishment. “I’m so happy for the seniors. To play your last high school game against your arch rival, in the snow, and to win the way we did. It’s like a dream come true.”

The snow, which covered the field before the game but had stopped by halftime, brought out the best in New Canaan quarterback Nick Cascione, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns as his final signature. He also ran for 76 yards, 41 coming on a jaunt that provided the Rams’ final points of the day. His exclamation point was an end-zone slide in the snow.

“It didn’t hit me to do that until I crossed the goal line,” Cascione said. “I owe it all to the offensive line. They opened up a huge hole on that play and I kind of kept running.”

New Canaan's Cole Turpin looks to avoid the tackle of Darien's Hudson Hamill. (Photo: Mark Conrad)
New Canaan’s Cole Turpin looks to avoid the tackle of Darien’s Hudson Hamill. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Cascione, who moved to New Canaan from Florida, said he had never played or practiced in the snow before. The only time came one Thanksgiving in the yard when he was up here visiting cousins.

“It was a new experience for me. It’s a lot of fun,” Cascione said. “I can do it again.”

Though winter workouts will begin soon, the guess here is the Rams are going to feel both great satisfaction and a huge void tomorrow. This is a close group that shared a common goal. It has league and state titles to show for its effort.

“This was our last time we’d be together and we wanted to show what we can do,” said Zach Allen, who stole a ball from Wyper and returned it for a touchdown on Thanksgiving and deflected, intercepted and returned a pass for a score Saturday.

Darien quarterback Silas Wyper scrambles for a gain on Saturday. (Photo: Mark Conrad)
Darien quarterback Silas Wyper scrambles for a gain on Saturday. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

With the New Canaan defense, led by players like Root, Allen, Cole Harris and Connor Buck, it is a game of Can you Top This?

“It is kind of like a competition of who can outdo each other,” Allen said. “You just want to help your team win.”

Darien arrived Saturday on an incredible run, with consecutive come-from-behind wins over North Haven, New Canaan, Daniel Hand and Middletown.

Trifone said he told his players after the game “don’t let this tarnish what has been a magical ride from a group people expected to be 6-5.”

Given the Rams’ performance the last three months and on Saturday, the Blue Wave’s win ranks as one of the great accomplishments of this high school football season.

But, in the end, as Root and his teammates wanted, they did, indeed, go out the right way.


  1. I’ve been watching New Canaan football for over 20 years and both of my sons were captains for Lou Marinelli and NCHS; this was the best team I’ve ever seen wear the red, black and white. I tip my hat to the seniors and all the guys who contributed to a great season, what a ride! Coach Marinelli and his staff are in a class of their own. The kids are so fortunate to play for such a great program. Go Rams!!!

  2. What a capstone to a truly remarkable season. Congratulations to the players, to the coaching staff, to the school administration and to the parents who support NC football. This was a win and an accomplishment all can take pride in. There is a phrase that captures the spirit of athletics across the town, whenever a huddle breaks you will hear it..NC Pride! That’s what was on display in the swirling snow at Boyle Stadium on Saturday morning.

    To the NC players, you proved your talent as individuals and as a team. I’ve been watching NC football a long time and in my view, you are the best there has been. But most important, you overcame adversity and showed your ability to come back and win it all. That is an experience you will carry through life!

    To the community, we are blessed to have a leader of the program who has been building character, integrity and the value of team for over 30 years. Lou Marinelli and the staff around him have had such a positive influence on our young men. Many will measure Lou’s success in his number of wins and championships. More important has been his role as a teacher of what it takes to make it in this world.

    To the community, take pride in what the 2013 team has accomplished and don’t overlook the resources required and dedicated coaches who teach and shape our young men.

    Also, to Rob T and the Darien team, congratulations on a tremendous season. You accomplished a great deal, showed your class and character and have much to be proud of. In this off season, it would be hard to argue that the best high school football in CT is played in two towns in lower Fairfield County that share a border as well as a passion for the sport.

    Finally, congratulations to the author of the Ruden Report, you’ve brought this very unique season to life in a special way. Thank you!

  3. Dave – Thanks to your writing, I feel like I am still in NC, CT and watching the Rams from the front row… Congrats to Lou, the staff, the kids and the community – you can’t fully appreciate what you have there until you move away…NC is a special place….

  4. We would be remiss without thanking Stamford HS and The City of Stamford for
    making the game possible on such short notice. The folks at Stamford HS went above
    and beyond in making it a great event for the fans and players of both teams. From
    opening the gym so fans could stay warm during pre-game and halftime to making
    sure the field was clear enough to make it playable they are owed a great deal of

    • I texted the people who ran the event yesterday to express the same sentiments. They did a great job hosting a state final with just two days’ notice and under those conditions.

  5. Once again NC lead in penalties by a wide margin 12-4 (138yds – 17yds).Clearly
    the only game it hurt them was The Turkey Bowl, but there were times they made it
    a lot harder on themselves. Many of the penalties were big and avoidable ones from
    unsportsmanlike conduct to late hits to obvious holds. Opening kick-off yesterday instead off being inside Darien 10 they ended up back on 30 because NC player pushed Darien player in back right in front of official. Some might say that the game yesterday
    was over officiated but it seemed like the calls were there. NC’s big play ability and number of plays they run allowed them to overcome the penalties.
    Darien with only 4 penalties perhaps had the toughest one of all on the
    delay of game. Tough call with no 25 second clock or scoreboard clock.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.