Commentary: The Song Remains The Same For New Canaan

New Canaan's Cole Harris forces a fumble by St. Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano. The play resulted in a 56-yard touchdown return by Connor Buck. (Photo: Mark Conrad)
New Canaan’s Cole Harris forces a fumble by St. Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano. The play resulted in a 56-yard touchdown return by Connor Buck. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

By Dave Ruden

NEW CANAAN — Lou Marinelli said his offensive line could have offered a little better protection, his defense could have wrapped up a few more tackles and his players could have kept their mouths quieter to cut down on the penalties.

In other words, the New Canaan High School football team could have played a better game against St. Joseph on Friday night.

This was 24 hours too late for a Halloween tale, but a scary thought nonetheless after the Rams turned the most hyped FCIAC regular season game of the year into just another obstacle to easily clear following an impressive 62-21 win.

In many respects this was New Canaan’s most complete effort of the season, given the quality of the opponent and the decisiveness of the outcome.

At 8-0, there are potentially seven more games to go for Marinelli to give a fully informed answer to a question he was asked as he walked off the field: is this the best team he has ever coached?

“We have to play this thing out,” Marinelli said. “For the first eight games, I’ve never been involved with something like this. It’s impressive. It’s a complete team.”

This was a night when the New Canaan offense wrested center stage back from the defense for a night, no easy task given that linebacker Cole Harris, who has been magnetized to the ball this year, forced a fumble that Connor Buck returned for a touchdown and recovered another one.

New Canaan quarterback Nick Cascione threw for six touchdowns and ran for another against St. Joseph. (Photo: Mark Conrad)
New Canaan quarterback Nick Cascione threw for six touchdowns and ran for another against St. Joseph. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Quarterback Nick Cascione had arguably his best performance in two years, completing 20 of 26 passes for 379 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran for another score.

“We were just clicking like we always do,” Cascione said. “Just moving the ball. The defense gave us great field position as usual. It was business as usual tonight.”

Cascione was as nonchalant after the game as he was accurate with his throws during it. A week after Staples forced the Rams to go to the ground, Cascione completed passes to nine different receivers, and five different ones for touchdowns, including two to Alex LaPolice.

It was apparent early the Rams thought they would have success with long passes. Cascione completed five for over 30 yards, including one of 74 yards to Jack Gilio.

“He was really on,” Marinelli said. “He read coverages well and he was able to pick up the receivers. He works hard. He’s done a tremendous job so far. The receivers are not the biggest, but they’re quick and run good patterns.”

Cascione shared the starting job with Teddy Bossidy last season. This year the job has been his outright, a good thing because Bossidy has done an outstanding job in the secondary.

Cascione, as is customary, deflected any credit.

“The line gave me great time,” he said. Everyone gave a great collective effort. The receivers caught passes, the line blocked for me. They made it easy for me.”

New Canaan came in as the No. 2 team in the state, one spot ahead of the Cadets (7-1), who are still on the fast track to the state playoffs but might have lost the chance to play for their first league championship.

St. Joseph had some success on offense. Jordan Vazzano threw for 224 yards, and if not for a number of dropped passes that total would have been higher. Mufasa Abdul-Basir ran for 134 yards and averaged 5.4 a carry.

And if the Cadets could have been in a position to give Abdul-Basir more carries, the game might have been closer.

But “if” has been the key word used by the Rams’ opponents this season.

With the score 10-7, New Canaan scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to remove the suspense, and forced St. Joseph to try and score points in a hurry.

In was not a winning combination.

“We put the ball in a little more than we usually do,” Cascione said. “We aspire to get to 70. We looked at this as just another game, not 2 versus 3. It was just a different opponent. Just a different person on a different day.”

But the story stays the same.


  1. Dave can you break down the stats by half. St Joes’ yards seem to have come in garbage time. Did NC play the first team offense and defense to the final snaps of the game like they did versus Staples?

    Awesome win tonight by the Wreckers. Would love to get a second chance against NC in the FCIAC finals, but not likely given the points. Wreckers would do better in a rematch than St Joes.

    • I’m not by computer now but St. Joseph moved the ball some in the first half. And I’m not sure who can give New Canaan a game at this point.

  2. I had a son on the 08 Rams and I would have to say this team is Lou’s best ever! What a complete team. Not sure if any one on CT can play w them.

  3. Agree with Dave, not sure anyone can match NC this year.

    NC’s defense is every bit as good as the mighty Xavier team of 2011. The Wreckers played that Xavier team in the state finals and this Ram defense last week – a firsthand witness to both. Buck, Root, Allen and Harris are just impossible to match up against. Plus, your kicker and special teams are dynamite. Field position is the name of the game and NC dominates the chains.

    The Wreckers would still love another chance to play NC in the FCIAC finals but will need some huge help given the points. Also, St Joes will need to take care of business at McMahon – which is likely. If so, St Joes’ points probably enough to be #2 and would play NC in a rematch.

    Was at the Staples / Trumbull game last night and Trumbull did a great job with the renovation of their football complex – really well suited for a Championship game.

  4. this NC team is right up there with the 2003 and 2008 RAMS teams for best to ever come through New Canaan. best Rams defense I have ever seen was in 2003 with names like Dorismond, Sclafani, Fagan, Silvestro, Landri and Drenkhan. the best defender I have ever seen play at New Canaan was Dirubio in 2008, but this 2013 team seams to be the best offensively ive ever seen at new canaan! Go RAMS!!!

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