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New Canaan Football Team Starts 2nd Season Against Wethersfield

New Canaan's Zach Allen (44) and Alex LaPolice tackle a Darien runner during a game on Thanksgiving. The Rams meet Wethersfield Saturday in the state tournament.
New Canaan's Zach Allen (44) and Alex LaPolice tackle a Darien runner during a game on Thanksgiving. The Rams meet Wethersfield Saturday in the state tournament. Photo Credit: Facebook/New Canaan Football

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- New Canaan High School’s football team lost its chance at an undefeated season and the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference title with a Thanksgiving Day loss to archrival Darien.

But a new season begins Saturday for the Rams (9-1) when they host Wethersfield (11-0) in the Class L Large semifinals. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.

New Canaan led Darien 21-0 in the first half of its showdown on Thanksgiving for the FCIAC title at Stamford’s Boyle Stadium. But the Blue Wave fought back to force overtime and won, 28-21, denying the Rams a second straight league title.

But second-seeded New Canaan can take the first step toward another state title against No. 3 seed Wethersfield. The Indians are ranked No. 30 in the state by MaxPreps, while the Rams come in ranked No. 4.

The Eagles like to throw the ball with quarterback Matt Sanzaro (2,150 yards, 31 TD passes). Receiver Kyle Klavins (34 receptions, nine touchdowns) is his primary target. Tyler Nelson (910 yards, 10 TDs) is Wethersfield’s top runner.

Wethersfield averages nearly 38 points per game, and its closest game this year was a 17-7 win over Rocky Hill in the first game of the season. Wethersfield beat Newington, 21-7, on Thanksgiving.

It is unlikely, however, that Wethersfield has faced a defensive opponent with New Canaan’s skills. Senior Zach Allen has 12.5 sacks, including four against Darien. The Rams have forced 30 turnovers, including six interceptions by Michael Kraus.

The Rams also have a diverse offense, led by quarterback Michael Collins (2,235 yards, 26 touchdowns). Four players have 20 or more receptions, led by Alex LaPolice (29 receptions, eight TDs.) Frank Cognetta (564 yards, eight TDs) is New Canaan’s top running back.

The Rams also have history on their side. They have won seven state titles since 2000, including the Class L title last year. Wethersfield has not won a state crown and reached the state tournament for the first time in the 10-year tenure of coach John Campanello.

The winner will face the victor of Saturday’s game between Darien and Naugatuck for the Class L Large title next weekend. The site, time and location will be announced later.

Saturday's game will be broadcast on HAN Radio.

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