By Dave Ruden
With a 3-0 start, the Brien McMahon football team has thus far fit snugly into the role of FCIAC sleeper it was cosigned to in the preseason.
Just don’t try and get A.J. Albano, the Senators’ coach, to deal in superlatives any time soon.
“We are not good enough to think that way,” Albano said Sunday night, a day after his team’s 21-7 win over Danbury. “We are taking it one game at a time. We can lose to any team on our schedule. FCIAC football is the best league in the state. We can lose to anybody.”
The Senators, who have Westhill this week, followed by Warren Harding, Stamford and Fairfield Ludlowe, could also be 7-0 if everything breaks right.
And break, unfortunately, is a word Albano now has to confront when his best offensive weapon, running back Trevon Forney, sustained a broken forearm early in the game against the Hatters. Albano said Forney will see a doctor on Tuesday. He was optimistic that Forney will return this season, though he speculated it is possible he might be limited to playing only on defense.
“Obviously it’s a blow, but every team faces injuries,” Albano said. “We’ll get him back in three or four weeks. He’s in good spirits. We all have to share the load until Trevon comes back. We all have to do our part.”
With a run-oriented offense, the Senators will be counting on Timmy Hinton, who rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns against Danbury, and now has 351 yards in three games. Malik Whittaker will get more carries.
“There is a little bit more of a burden on them now,” Albano said.
The one constant thus far for McMahon has been the defense, which has allowed just 31 points. The unit is led by linebackers Kenny Keen and Allan Lenard.
“Our defense has played very well,” Albano said. “We’ve seen some offensive weapons. The defense has been very good.”
In an era of wide open play, the Senators are old school.
“We need to run the ball,” Albano said. “That’s our style. We’re not going to use the spread, we’re not going to throw the ball 45 times. Ground and pound.”
The pieces are in place for a strong season. Just don’t try and get Albano to admit it.
“We’re back to 0-0,” Albano said. “The week before never matters. Only the week ahead.”
Cole Harris, like the other members of the New Canaan defense, had a quiet confidence going into the season. It has been easy to see why.
The defense has been the dominant factor in the Rams’ 3-0 start, and Harris, the highly touted linebacker, as expected has been a major contributor. He has a team-high 35 tackles, including 6 for losses.
He also has scored points on two interception returns and a safety. One of the touchdowns came in Saturday’s 66-20 rout of Greenwich. His blocked punt led to another score.
“He just has a knack for coming up with a big play,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “Either coming up with a fumble, intercepting passes. He has such a sense of where his drops are and where the ball is going. I’m glad he plays for us. He just has a tendency of finding the ball. He’s always around it.”
Harris is one of the Rams’ most vocal leaders. He was unhappy that the team gave up two late scores to Greenwich. Defensive perfection is his ultimate goal.
“It is something we like to pride ourselves on, getting everyone to the ball, getting everyone in on the fun,” Harris said.
Game Of The Week
Darien (3-0) at St. Joseph (3-0), Saturday 2:30 p.m. The start of the season is looking like a track meet for the Cadets, who keep finding another formidable hurdle in their path each week. The upcoming obstacle is a Darien team that has been much better than expected thus far, on both sides of the ball.
The Fab 5
1. New Canaan (3-0): When the offense is as effective as it was against Greenwich, complementing the defense, it is hard to see how this team loses.
2. St. Joseph (3-0): Another week, another big test for the Cadets.
3. Darien (3-0): Is the Blue Wave very good or contender good? The answer will be revealed late Saturday afternoon.
4. Staples (2-1): Right now the FCIAC’s wildcard team. A favorable schedule allows a young team to mature.
5. Brien McMahon (3-0): Tigers or Senators? Senators or Tigers? Have to give the nod to the team that hasn’t lost yet.