The season started with FCIAC schools occupying the top four spots in the preseason state writers’ poll. Form held as two won state titles and the Class LL final featured two league schools for the third straight year.
Greenwich went through the season unbeaten and won its first title since 2007. The lone surprise was just how dominant the Cardinals were, especially on defense.
St. Joseph moved up to Class M and rolled to a second consecutive title.
The fourth school was Darien, which carried an unbeaten record and No. 1-ranking in the state into the Turkey Bowl against the Rams, where it lost a close game.
The four schools combined for six losses, and all but one — the Blue Wave’s Class LL quarterfinal defeat to Newtown — was to another member of the quartet.
Their places on the pedestal made for a regular season that was similar to a year ago. There were four state playoff teams, another on the periphery — Staples took over Ridgefield’s place — and a large divide between the middle class.
That is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Many have called for a regular season based on tiered divisions, with the strongest schools grouped together. They would cannibalize each other and prevent the league from sending its best teams into the state playoffs.
What made the regular season more disappointing was, among the top four, only the Darien-New Canaan game was competitive and provided drama. St. Joseph and Greenwich each defeated New Canaan by 28 points. Darien toppled the Cadets by 15.
Consider my All-FCIAC team essentially a top 30 list, with a first team by position and the next six deserving players. The FCIAC has a 39-person first team, which is excessive. But just look for example at the quarterback position. Gavin Muir, David Summers and Drew Pyne are all deserving first team players. Some positions — linebacker is another one — are just deeper some years. Keeping it to 24 players is hard.
My team has one player that stood out to me and ended up on the FCIAC’s own second team.
Here are my picks, and a few awards.
Ruden Report All-FCIAC Team
QB: Gavin Muir, Greenwich
RB: Tysen Comizio, Greenwich
RB: Jaden Shirden, St. Joseph
WR: Quintin O’Connell, New Canaan
WR: Brian Howell, Fairfield Ludlowe
TE: Peter Bredahl, Darien
OL: Jack Conley, New Canaan
OL: Jack Stewart, New Canaan
OL: Will Keating, Darien
OL: Jack McBreairty, Greenwich
OL: Rob Mihaly, St. Joseph
DL: Mozi Bici, Greenwich
DL: Emilio Camou, Greenwich
DL: Jermaine Williams, St. Joseph
DL: Jackson Mitchell, Ridgefield
LB: Connor Fay, Darien
LB: Jack Feda, Greenwich
LB: Garrett Braden, New Canaan
DB: Ryan Raybuck, Greenwich
DB: Will Rechtermann, New Canaan
DB: Devin DiCocco, Trumbull
DB: Jeff Seganos, Fairfield Warde
K: Ryan Cranston, Trumbull
P: Luke Kirby, St. Joseph
The Next 6
David Summers (QB), St. Joseph; Drew Pyne (QB), New Canaan; Eddy Iuteri (DL), Greenwich; Joe Gjinaj (DL), Fairfield Warde; Jesse Lawson (LB), St. Joseph; Cole Brockwell (LB), Staples.
Quintin O’Connell. This was a difficult choice because you have the three quarterbacks — Muir, Summers and Pyne — as well as Shirden. O’Connell finished with 1,755 total yards and 20 touchdowns. His versatility — the Rams at times used him out of the backfield — made him the one player whose removal would have had the most adverse effect on his team.
Mozi Bici. Bici, who led the state in sacks and set the record for most in a game with eight, gets the nod over Fay. The Cardinals’ defense was one of the best I can remember. One-sixth of the defensive players chosen is from the unit. It was a collaborative effort, but Bici was the most influential defensive player this season.
Coach Of The Year
Mitch Ross, Fairfield Ludlowe; John Marinelli, Greenwich. I try to avoid ties, so consider this an honor for the best of the league’s different tiers. Ross taught the Falcons how to win again. They may not have had the most demanding schedule, but outside of Greenwich and New Canaan their only other loss was to Trumbull. It was uplifting to see players accustomed to defeat having so much fun.
Yes, Marinelli had the state’s best talent to work with, but at no time was there any letdown. The most points the Cardinals gave up was 14 to New Canaan during the regular season. Their fewest scored: 29. They put up 42 or more points nine times. And Marinelli’s game plans were always sound in magnifying an opponent’s weakness. Put it altogether and you have a 13-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the state.