By Dave Ruden
DARIEN — The scoreboard at Darien High School late Saturday afternoon continued to shine brightly with the news that left many in the stands incredulous.
Darien 42, Greenwich 21.
“We came in and we worked hard, and that’s all we can do,” said Mark Evanchick, the Blue Wave defensive lineman who after two games is in the running for team MVP. “I thought it was going to be a close game but you know what, we have the best quarterback in the state. He comes in and works hard, all these guys.”
That quarterback, Silas Wyper, personifies the Blue Wave’s 2-0 start, something of an unknown with high hopes who has played better than expected.
It seems that most seasons the Blue Wave come in occupying the same position: with the reputation of being a good team that is just a step or two behind the top contenders.
Darien won the league championship in 2010, and otherwise have usually been a very solid, 7- or 8-win team that no opponent looks forward to facing.
So it was not surprising that Saturday started with the expectation that the Cardinals, coming off a win over West Haven, would expose the Blue Wave as being a good but not quite good enough team.
Perhaps the indication of what would unfold — though not in the manner it would occur — came during warmups. The Darien coaches certainly weren’t cocky, but they watched their players warm up with a look that hinted they knew something you didn’t.
If this were a poker table, the common cards would seem of no help, but those two aces you are holding…
It turns out Evanchick, Wyper, All-Everything Nick Lombardo and a supporting cast deserving of a label better than supporting so far have been the football version of those aces.
“No question they showed up today,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “Our kids showed up and they played very well. We’re playing better than I thought we would at this point, which is a good thing.”
The magnitude of Saturday’s dominance was stunning. Darien jumped out to a 28-0 win, and would have carried a shutout into the locker room if not for a shanked punt that gave Greenwich a short field that led to Jose Melo’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Austin Longi on the final play of the half.
Momentum was nowhere to be found for Greenwich. John Reed returned a fumble 14 yards midway through the third quarter for a 35-7 lead. The rest was semantics.
The day started off with Will Hamernick returning an interception 13 yards for a Darien score on the first play of the game. Things just got better.
Wyper thus far has been a revelation. He is equal parts poise and good decision making. Better yet is his accuracy. His second touchdown pass of the day to Lombardo, into the right corner of the end zone from 28 yards out, was the football equivalent of swishing a halfcourt shot.
“Silas is a total program kid. He’s a kid that backed up Henry for the past two years and never said boo, did everything you asked him to do,” said Trifone, referring to graduated quarterback Henry Baldwin. “He’s playing so well. He just puts the ball where it is supposed to go. He tucks it when he should. I’m just very proud of him.”
Lombardo’s athleticism is well documented — Trifone said he runs faster than the coach drives.
What has really been the key for the Blue Wave thus far is under the hood. The offensive line has been putting the rest of the players in the position to succeed, giving Wyper plenty of time and getting great push for the running backs.
And the defense swarms to the ball while the secondary thus far has been outstanding.
“It’s just the coverage,” Evanchick said of the secret to his success. “The coverage gives us time. We’re all getting pressure.”
So have we been underestimating the Blue Wave, who still must play St. Joseph, Ridgefield, New Canaan and a North Haven team that beat No. 1 Xavier on Friday?
It should be noted that on Darien’s schedule, there is a date listed as “tentative” for the FCIAC championship game.
“This was definitely a big game, a statement game for us,” Evanchick said before leaving the field. “We came out and proved the point that we needed to make: that we are one of the contenders in the FCIAC.”
Good enough to win the title?
Evanchick smiled and said, “We will find out.”