STAMFORD — When John Marinelli was named in the offseason as the head coach at Greenwich, based on his reputation as offensive coordinator at New Canaan, there were two expectations: that the Cardinals would employ a wide-open offense and also be at the forefront of the technological revolution in sports.
After his first game, on Friday at Trinity Catholic, one of those two components turned out to be true.
The Cardinals were relatively conservative in their 42-38 victory. They ran the ball three more times (35) than they passed it.
But the new advances that Marinelli hopes will give his program an advantage were definitely on display. Marinelli could be seen before and during the game taking long glances on an iPad that was always by his side. Assistant coaches and players were also using tablets, and not for entertainment.
Marinelli said the team has 10 iPads that will be used during games. Like extra time in the weight room during the offseason, it is another way to gain an edge.
“We have a replay system that allows us to view every single play after the snap,” Marinelli said. “Technology is legal in high school football and we’re using it to see what other teams are doing.”
Marinelli said the iPads had to be sent out and are encrypted so they theoretically cannot be hacked. Film is stored on a server in the cloud. They connect not to the Internet but a special Wi-Fi system. Marinelli said it takes about six seconds from the time a play ends until it can be viewed, though because of the fast tempo of the Cardinals’ offense, he is selective in his use of the iPad. He said he won’t look at it while the team is on offense or defense.
“We move way too quickly to look at a player after it happens,” Marinelli said. “The rule with the coaches is not to look at it when coaching.”
Marinelli said the tool is particularly helpful with alignments and spotting trends.
iPads have increasingly made their way into classrooms. Marinelli said he is applying the same philosophy with their use.
“It’s a teaching tool,” he said. “It also helps take some of the emotion out of things. It keeps the players more focused. Especially the quarterback. He can’t be getting involved in the emotion of the game. He has to be even-keeled the entire game.”
Marinelli made use of iPads while at New Canaan, but not as extensively or in as sophisticated a manner that he plans at Greenwich.
“Players use them when the other unit is on the field, no matter what the score or the situation is,” Marinelli said. “There is nothing that can be gained by watching the game on the bench. There’s always something they can be talking about. We can ask them questions, ask what they are feeling. It does make a difference. It definitely helps. Sometimes you can try and outthink yourself during games. We are relatively simple so it is a huge advantage. Anybody can do it.”
Crusaders In Need Of A Kick
There was a lot to like about Trinity in its 42-38 loss to Greenwich on Friday. The Crusaders are ready to be cast in the unaccustomed role of one of the league’s most explosive teams. Anthony Lombardi threw for 313 yards and two scores and ran for 111 yards and two more touchdowns. Izaiah Sanders had four catches for 123 yards and a score and is going to be one of the most entertaining players in the conference. Coach Donny Panapada can take some chances throwing the ball deep downfield when Sanders is in single coverage; odds are he will come down with the ball. Johnny Somers was actually then leading receiver. He finished with five receptions for 172 yards and two scores.
The Crusaders were highly touted in the preseason and did nothing to dampen the optimism.
What’s more, it is possible that Friday’s game at Norwalk might be the most difficult remaining game on the schedule, at least based on the thin returns after one week. A berth in the Class S playoffs is well within reach.
If there is one concern, it is the lack of a reliable kicker, which Panapada acknowledged after the Greenwich loss. Trinity went for 2-point conversions after all of its scores and converted just one. It also changed the strategy during the course of the game.
“It is a concern,” Panapada said. “Unfortunately that’s what we have.”
The Fab 5
1. New Canaan (1-0). Michael Collins threw for 435 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-17 win over Ridgefield. The Rams took care of business in their first visit in a while to Tiger Hollow.
2. Darien (1-0). The Blue Wave have been no strangers to Boyle Stadium, but Friday marked their first trip in some time for a regular season game, against Stamford. Timmy Graham was nearly perfect with his passing in the first half of a 47-14 win. Mark Evanchick finished with two sacks; he is within 15 of the state record.
3. Staples (1-0). The Wreckers looked strong at times, sloppy at others in outlasting Danbury, 21-14. Running is the team’s strong suit and Ethan Burger went for 204 yards.
4. Greenwich (1-0). The Cardinals might have been a surprise for those expecting John Marinelli to be overseeing a mad-bomber passing attack. The personnel is different from New Canaan, and Greenwich was content to take advantage where it thought it had advantages.
5. Trinity Catholic (0-1). A tough call here between the Crusaders and Norwalk. We will have a clear answer after the teams meeting on Friday. Trinity was very impressive: this is not your father’s five-yards-and-a-lot-of-dirt Crusaders.