New Canaan routs Warde
When Fairfield Warde scheduled Saturday's home opener against New Canaan for a rare morning start, the Rams' coaching staff wondered privately if there was some posturing to throw their team out of a normal routine.
If so, it had an undesired result.
The Mustangs lost a fumbled exchange on the game's first play. Nineteen seconds in, New Canaan had an early seven-point lead.
It was a foreshadowing of what was to come, as the Rams put forth a complete effort to roll to an easy 35-6 win.
New Canaan put the team through its customary Thanksgiving morning schedule -- it has won the last eight meetings with Darien -- and after some early adjustments looked sharp for the first time this year.
"I'm not sure why we played at this time but the way it turned out I'm glad we did," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said.
The Rams (2-1) suffered a 31-28 overtime loss to Trinity Catholic last week, and Marinelli admitted it was difficult getting a read on his players the past eight days.
"When you lose like that you go through the week wondering if you'll ever win again," Marinelli said. "I didn't know how we were going to react. We are lucky we jumped on them early. I don't think we're that much better."
One of the negatives from the Trinity game was turned into a positive. Louis Hagopian, the starting running back and team captain, was ejected in the first half when his attempts to strip a player of the ball was misinterpreted as throwing punches.
Hagopian was automatically suspended from Saturday's game. That provided an opportunity for sophomore Frank Cognetta, who took advantage of it. He scored the Rams' second and third touchdowns, the first on a pass in the flat from Nick Cascione in which he burst through a huge hole to make the score 14-0 late in the first quarter.
The second was a magnificent effort as Cognetta broke several tackles to emerge from the pack and head down the left sideline on a play that went for 50 yards.
"We know how good he can be but he doesn't know how good he could be," Marinelli said. "He has a lot of potential."
Cognetta finished with 105 of his 113 rushing yards in the first half.
New Canaan again rotated quarterbacks Cascione and Teddy Bossidy, and had greater success with a shorter passing game on rollouts that was bolstered by the ability to run the ball.
Cascione was 9 of 13 for 136 yards, and ran for 43 yards, while Bossidy was 7 of 10 for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Almost overlooked was the effort by an assertive New Canaan defense. The Mustangs (0-3) were held to just 67 yards before a 15-play, 99-yard drive that resulted in Dawud Mohamed's 6-yard touchdown run in the closing moments.
"We were just fired up," said Connor Buck, a defensive lineman who spent much of the game making sure Warde quarterback Max Garrett never got into a rhythm. "We promised ourselves something like last week would never happen again. It was a nice group effort. It would have been great if the backups could have held them at the end, but the defense played great today. In my mind it was a shutout."
It was a difficult outcome for Warde coach Duncan DellaVolpe, a highly regarded long-time assistant at New Canaan who in three years has worked tirelessly to build up a program in a town without a rich football tradition.
"How are you going to do anything when you come out and fumble the ball away on the first play?" DellaVolpe said. "We let them get momentum early and we were out of the game at that point."
NEW CANAAN 35, FAIRFIELD WARDE 6
NEW CANAAN 14 14 7 0--35
WARDE 0 0 0 6--6
NC--Grady Lynch, 5 pass from Teddy Bossidy (Neal Koller kick)
NC--Frank Cognetta, 64 pass from Nick Cascione (Koller kick)
NC--Cognetta, 50 run (Koller kick)
NC--Cole Harris, 1 run (Koller kick)
NC--Jack Barfuss, 2 pass from Bossidy (Koller kick)
FW--Dawud Mohamed, 6 run (pass failed)
Records: New Canaan 2-1; Fairfield Warde 0-3.