New Canaan football coach Lou Marinelli probably should have known that in the age of social media, it is hard to keep any big news a surprise.
Then again, that Zach Allen, the Rams’ dominant outside linebacker, would be named the Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year came as hardly a surprise.
Allen on Thursday became the second player in team history to receive the honor. The first, ironically, was Chris Silvestri in 1994. The former running back is currently New Canaan’s first-year defensive coordinator.
“I think the town, the school and the football program are proud to have one of our kids honored when only one from the state is selected,” said Marinelli, who learned of the news Wednesday night and had hoped to surprise Allen with a video on the school stadium’s scoreboard during practice on Thursday.
Allen, a 6-6, 248-pound senior, has 83 tackles, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 10 pass break-ups and two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
An occasional tight end, Allen has seven receptions and three touchdowns.
Allen learned of the award while going through Twitter on his way to physics class at school.
“It’s awesome,” Allen said. “Getting nominated was such a big honor, but to win it. It is kind of a testament to all the hard work we’ve all done. We are really a brotherhood. Everything we do, we do as a team. This is about all the coaches putting me in a position to do the best job possible.”
The Rams, 9-1, the defending Class L champions, play in the state semifinals at home on Saturday against Wethersfield.
In last Thursday’s 28-21 overtime loss to Darien in the FCIAC championship, Allen dominated with four sacks and three forced fumbles.
Allen, who has an A average as a student, has given a verbal commitment to play at Northwestern.
Allen is the first FCIAC player to win the award since 2003, when Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan was honored while playing at Greenwich.
“This reflects well on our team,” Marinelli said. “Zach is not just a great football player but a great student as well. I can’t remember then last game he didn’t have an effect on. He’s a tremendous talent. As a football team we are honored the award is given to one of ours.”