NEW CANAAN—Ever since spring football ended, Darien and Greenwich have been the FCIAC teams generating the most buzz.
“I’ve heard that,” said Blue Wave coach Rob Trifone.
So have Trifone’s players. They have just applied the mute button.
“We try to block it out,” said receiver Griffin Ross, one of Darien’s returning starters. “I think it’s exciting that people think highly of us. Last year no one really thought we’d be as good as we were.”
Twelve months ago the Blue Wave were off the radars. They finished 12-2, defeating New Canaan in their annual Turkey Bowl before losing to the Rams in the Class L championship. That followed a nine-game winning streak.
“Last year we were the underdog, and that gave the guys incentive to work in the weight room,” said George Reed, a defensive end who finished with five sacks and 85 tackles. “This year it’s the exact opposite, where we’re coming in supposedly on top. I think we have to use that to work harder.”
Trifone hasn’t had to preach the cliche of championships not being won in the summer months. Though there were some heavy personnel losses, especially on offense, Darien has a strong nucleus back bent on adding to the school’s trophy case.
The Blue Wave should be particularly strong up front defensively, led by junior Mark Evanchick, who is coming off of a monstrous breakthrough season in which he finished with 14 sacks.
“I think we are going to have one of the best boxes in the state,” Reed said. “Our front eight will get after the quarterback and stop the run. There are some big dudes in the middle who can clog some holes.”
Quarterback Silas Wyper has graduated, but junior Timmy Graham has had a strong offseason and is ready to step in. Ross will be one of his favorite receivers.
Darien went 9-0 at a recent 7 on 7 tournament at Fordham and performed well last weekend at New Canaan’s Grip It & Rip It.
“This helps us get everything working, our receivers’ timing with the quarterback and all of our defensive coverages down, so 7 on 7 helps a lot,” Ross said. “So far we are looking good. We return one of the best defensive lines in the state. And we have a lot of weapons on offense. We may lose Silas, but Tim is looking very good so far.”
Trifone keeps 7 on 7 tournaments in perspective. It is an effective tool, but also sometimes a weak indicator of what will happen in September, once linemen and pads are added.
“It’s June or July, 7 on 7, so who knows,” Trifone said. “I don’t get overly excited about 7 on 7. I don’t get down. It’s good work for the secondary on defense and the skill players and their timing. It is so early to predict now. So much of it is team chemistry. There are so many moving parts on a football team that are different from other sports. The kids have been working hard. So far so good.”
One of the Blue Wave’s greatest assets two months before their first game is perspective. They exceeded expectations a year ago. They want to guard against a reversal this fall.
“I think we have to use the hype for good instead of for bad,” Reed said. “If we come in thinking we’re going to be one of the best teams in the FCIAC, we may leave in the middle of the pack. It’s a long season, in June with spring practice, and it will end hopefully in December. Hopefully with a ring on our fingers. That’s the idea.”