There are no more games to cover. The high school season came to an end with the state championships on Saturday. For those of us in the media it is bittersweet. We love our jobs, love glorifying the accomplishments of scholastic athletes, but by mid-June we are in need of a break.
Still, there are stories to be written before we close the books. Some thoughts.
1. It seems to me… We may never see a school’s athletic department ever again have a season like Darien did this spring. The Blue Wave won five FCIAC titles in four days. It would have been six if the boys golf championships weren’t held until the following week. There was enough superior male talent in the school to stock the boys lacrosse, baseball, volleyball and golf teams.
2. It seems to me… By the same token, Darien will never see another class of athletes like the one about to graduate. From seven football/boys lacrosse players going 102-6 the past three years, to Chandler Kirby winning 13 league and state titles in two sports, to outstanding female athletes like Georgia Cassidy and Marissa Baker, the Blue Wave Class of 2015 set a standard that will probably never be duplicated.
3. It seems to me… I would love to see this Darien lacrosse team take on the 2014 Darien lacrosse team.
4. It seems to me… If this year doesn’t lead to the CIAC changing the format for state lacrosse tournaments, I don’t know what will. The sport has to get away from divisions based on school size and, like hockey, go to power rankings. The New Canaan boys lacrosse team had to keep itself from falling asleep rolling to the Class M title. You don’t think the New Canaan girls team, after losing to Darien in overtime in the FCIAC final, wanted — and, based on talent, deserved — another shot at the Blue Wave? The Class L and M boys finals, rather than being a showcase for the sport, were uncompetitive and anticlimactic. Keeping the current system does the sport an injustice.
5. It seems to me… In a sport that ideally should not have a single-elimination playoff format, Amity winning four straight titles after Saturday’s 4-3 victory over Fairfield Warde is a remarkable feat.
6. It seems to me… It was hard not to feel good for the Mustangs’ Giacomo Brancato, who galvanized an entire league with his successful battle last year against cancer, hitting the sixth-inning three-run homer that tied the game with Amity. And it was hard to see John Natoli, who has had a great season and helped get the Mustangs to the title game, force in the winning run with a walk.
7. It seems to me… Brett Conner did a terrific job in his first season as Warde’s coach. One person who should not be forgotten is Mark Caron, who helped build the program into a consistent winner before leaving to become the athletic director at Bethel.
8. It seems to me… Warde was a long bright spot for what turned out to be an overall disappointing state tournament performance for FCIAC baseball and softball teams.
9. It seems to me… With all due respect to Darien multi-sport stars like Timmy Graham, Liam Rischmann, Colin Minicus, Hudson Hamill (where do I stop?), I wanted to close this particular post with a few final words about Mark Evanchick, who on Monday was named the state’s Lacrosse Player of the Year for the second straight season, following setting the state sack record and being named the Connecticut Gatorade Football Player of the Year. Thursday’s state semifinal win over Ridgefield was my final time covering him playing for Darien. I think it is appropriate that I will remember the postgame interview as much as the way he shut down the Tigers’ Peter Dearth during the game. That’s the way it has been the last four years with Evanchick. For the past month my intern Austin Carfi shot top FCIAC athletes for a photo project that ran last week (sidebar: if you missed it click here and check it out. It is worth the time). All those involved were cooperative but Austin said his favorite of the 20 players was Evanchick. This was coming from a peer his own age, but it happens all the time, especially with the media. It may seem trite when we praise congenial top athletes for being better people, but in the case of Evanchick, the bar set at the penthouse as a three-time state player of the year, it is true.