NEW CANAAN, Conn. – For the first time since 2005 New Canaan’s football team won't be playing in a state championship game but, given their returning cast and history, it wouldn't be surprising if that's merely a one-year aberration.
The Rams’ season ended Sunday with a 27-21 loss to Windsor in the Class L semifinals. After six straight title game appearances and four straight championships from 2006-09, the Rams finally came up short of getting to the title game.
Given the losses from last year’s team, however, it is a testament to coach Lou Marinelli and the Rams that they went 9-3 this fall. The Rams had to replace one of the best quarterbacks in their history, Matt Milano, and also lost their top running back, wide receiver and tackler from the 2011 team. By anyone else’s standards, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Rams.
They did so in a hurry. The Rams lost to Trinity Catholic in the second game of the season, then went on a seven-game winning streak before losing to Darien. The eight regular season wins and a road playoff victory over Avon were good enough to get New to the state semifinals for the 11th time since the turn of the century.
Next year, however, the Rams have a lot of their top players back. Junior quarterbacks Nick Cascione and Ted Bossidy combined for 25 touchdown passes, over 1,100 yards rushing and 11 rushing touchdowns. New Canaan loses Louis Hagopian, the team’s second-leading rusher, but sophomore Frank Cognetta (336 yards, three touchdowns) was one of several underclassmen to gain extensive experience this fall.
Seniors Grady Lynch and Andrew Reed combined for 58 receptions, but juniors Jack Gilio (28 receptions) and Cole Turpin (15) look ready to step in. Turpin caught a touchdown pass in Sunday’s game.
Defensively, the Rams look scary next season. Linemen Connor Buck and Zach Allen are going to give nightmares to offensive coordinators trying to figure out blocking schemes against them. They combined for 18 sacks this fall. Cole Harris, Michael Root, Mike DiCosmo and Max Wilson are some underclassmen who saw a lot of playing time this fall.
“It depends how hard they work,’’ Marinelli said. “If they’re not going to work out and play other sports and dedicate themselves, it doesn’t matter how many kids you have coming back. Hopefully, this loss will be a motivating factor.”
New Canaan’s freshman team also finished undefeated, and town teams in the Fairfield County Football League have traditionally been strong. While the sting from Sunday’s setback is still fresh, Marinelli and the Rams can get to work next season knowing they have a chance to get back to the state tournament again.
“I’m proud of their effort this year,’’ Marinelli said. “Hopefully we can go back and regroup, and get ready for next year.”