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New Canaan's Fierecest Rival Stands In Way Of Another State Title

Frank Cognetta is New Canaan's leading rusher with 673 yards and six touchdowns this year.
Frank Cognetta is New Canaan's leading rusher with 673 yards and six touchdowns this year. Photo Credit: Facebook/New Canaan Football

NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- One team has put the only blemish on New Canaan High School’s football record each of the past two seasons. And it just happens to be its fiercest rival, Darien.

On Saturday, the Rams (10-1) meet the Blue Wave (12-0) for the Class L Large state championship. Kickoff is at 10:30 a.m. at West Haven High School, and the Rams will be looking for their second straight state title and seventh since 2001.

Darien, however, has been a thorn in the Rams’ side lately. New Canaan beat Darien for the Class L title last year, 44-12, but that is their only win in the last four meetings. New Canaan leads the series, 49-36-2, but has lost its last three Thanksgiving Day games.

New Canaan appeared to be on its way to a win in the most recent meeting between the teams. The Rams sprinted to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, but the Blue Wave’s defense stiffened and blanked the Rams from there en route to a 28-21 overtime win.

Turnovers and penalties cost the Rams in the Thanksgiving Day loss to Darien, and they will need to clean that up in the rematch.

The other key for New Canaan will be to slow down the Darien offense, which amassed 338 yards of offense on Thanksgiving. New Canaan had success through the air, as quarterback Mike Collins totaled 287 yards. But the Rams had -9 yards rushing, and could not generate any points in the second half.

Defensive end Zach Allen, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, had four sacks and 11 tackles in the first game. Chris Keefe also had 11 tackles.

New Canaan advanced to the title game with a 27-14 win over Wethersfield. Alex LaPolice set a school record with a 95-yard touchdown run in that game, and his run recaptured momentum for the Rams after building a 21-0 lead. Wethersfield scored 14 unanswered points before LaPolice’s run gave the Rams breathing room.

The biggest advantage for the Rams may be experience. New Canaan has played in 10 state title games since 2000, winning seven. Coach Lou Marinelli has won nine state titles in his 34-year tenure, and his 307 career victories leads active coaches.

Tickets are available online through the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference website . Livetracking will also be available on that site.

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