NEW CANAAN, Conn. – SportsNet New York was on hand at Friday night’s New Canaan High School football game, capping a week of filming for the network’s show “Traditions.” The show features high school football teams in the tri-state area with winning histories.
SNY might want to call New Canaan’s episode, “Winning Ugly.”
For the third straight game, the Rams played messy, sloppy, penalty-ridden football. Unlike the eventual blowouts of Weeks 1 and 2, they barely escaped a potentially historic upset by Fairfield Warde. New Canaan erased a seven-point fourth quarter deficit, scoring 21 points in the final nine minutes to win, 28-14.
“[Warde’s] defense came at us. They gave us all we could handle and more,” New Canaan head coach Lou Marinelli said. “We’re not going anywhere if we keep playing like this, though. We were lucky to get out alive tonight.”
Fairfield Warde’s defense came ready to play in front of a near-sellout New Canaan crowd. The Mustangs wreaked havoc on New Canaan quarterback Matthew Milano all evening, sacking the all-state senior four times and forced the Rams to punt six times.
With New Canaan’s normally deadly air-attack stalled, the game was deadlocked at 7-7 after three quarters. The final 12 minutes would provide more than enough drama to make up for the glacial pace of the first 36.
Warde quarterback Chris Foley made one of his few completions on the night count, finding Kevin Sullivan for a 37-yard touchdown pass to put Fairfield Warde up 14-7. Although that score silenced the crowd, it awoke the New Canaan monster.
On the next New Canaan possession, Milano finally shook free of his nightlong funk. He perfectly timed a pass to a diving Patrick Newton in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
New Canaan missed the extra point, but Milano was more than ready to prove he is one of the best quarterbacks in the state. He morphed into an option quarterback and began to run.
Milano ran for more than 50 yards in the final six minutes, plunging in for a pair of one-yard touchdowns. The second came after Bobby Distler sealed the game with a backbreaking interception.
“Everybody makes fun of him, saying he’s slow, but he worked hard in the off-season to get ready to run,” Marinelli said. “He really kept his composure and kept the offense together today.”
New Canaan (3-0) will travel to Brien McMahon High School on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the first of two consecutive trips to Norwalk.
Game notes: New Canaan’s 28 points are the fewest scored by the Rams in a win since a 14-7 victory on Thanksgiving Day 2009 over Darien. … A Warde player was ejected late in the fourth after kicking a Rams player on the ground. … Despite the countywide thunderstorms and various postponements Friday night, the game was never delayed.