DARIEN — Buffalo Wild Wings should throw a little donation in the direction of the CIAC. Thanks to its mandated bye, the Darien High School football team is coming off a second free weekend. Quarterback Timmy Graham said the extra time was spent enjoying some unaccustomed social time with friends, including a few visits to load up on some wings.
Neither the break from diet or unwanted vacation dulled the Blue Wave’s sharpness in a 49-7 homecoming win over St. Joseph that further stamped them as in the hunt for the title of best team in the state.
Graham, throwing mostly a steady diet of short passes to a stable of playmakers, looked particularly sharp until taking a hard hit that, consistent with the way this year is going, resulted in points on the scoreboard.
“Get the ball to runners on screen passes and let them do the work,” Graham said.
Shelby Grant started the yards-after-the-catch parade on the first of his three scores, a 26-yard screen, and Colin Minicus did the same on a 57-yard play for the first two touchdowns.
The Blue Wave (3-0), which like the Cadets remarkably had played just twice under this horrific schedule format, showed no signs of rust, in large part because the talent level and depth are unusually high.
“It was really difficult, especially for us seniors, having to sit a week, but we think it paid off,” Graham said. “We had a couple of injuries and we got them fixed up and we got to prepare for a really good St. Joseph team and it showed on the scoreboard today.”
Darien coach Rob Trifone at the start of the week said he hated all these bye weeks but would reserve judgment until after Saturday’s game in terms of it having a deleterious effect on the growth of his team.
“I don’t like it at all, but we did what we needed to do,” Trifone said, adding of the Cadets, “they’re tough, they’re a feisty team.”
Even when things went wrong for Darien, they went right. Graham took a vicious hit from the Cadets’ Cam Ryan in the second quarter, prompting a fumble. The Blue Wave’s Hudson Hamill, who was out for a screen pass, retrieved the ball and turned it into a 20-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
It was the play everyone was talking about after the game.
“I saw the ball go backwards,” Hamill said. “I thought just in case the ball goes as a fumble I should go get it. I picked it up, thought about just going down and decided to get back the yards we lost and before I knew it I was in the end zone. It all happened pretty fast.”
Hamill said besides their obvious talent, the Blue Wave have another important commodity that has fueled three easy wins.
“Our big thing is preparation,” Hamill said. “We take pride in really being prepared for a game. Normally we only get one week and we looked at two as a positive. We really knew their stuff, knew what they were going to do and we felt prepared for everything they threw as us.”
After a couple of seasons in which every week seemed to bring a big game, this fall is shaping up as a huge letdown. League- and state-mandated byes have destroyed continuity. And a down year talent wise has sapped the drama.
Right now it looks like the annual Turkey Bowl will again be moved to Boyle Stadium, for the 50th FCIAC championship. Only a win by Staples, assuming it is undefeated, against the Blue Wave could derail another Darien-New Canaan final.
As for Trifone, he said he used his extra time to watch additional film on McMahon, next week’s opponent.
Then again, Trifone also had his near-weekly Saturday day-night doubleheader to worry about. He is also a coach of his son Mark’s 8th-grade team and there was a game in Wilton Saturday night.
That team, as Trifone noted, is also undefeated.