Trinity Catholic allowed just one scoring drive in Saturday’s 20-6 loss to New Canaan. Save for a fumble by the Crusaders on their own 1-yard line and an interception deep in their own territory that was returned for a touchdown and the final minutes might have played out differently.
Trumbull jumped out to a 33-17 lead at Ridgefield early in the second half on Friday night, showcasing the offensive explosiveness that was expected with a strong returning quarterback, running back and receiver. Then came the defense allowing 29 straight points in the final 12 1/2 minutes.
Both Trinity and Trumbull entered their openers expecting to win, and each had plenty of reasons to be disappointed with the outcomes, especially with the manner they occurred.
But both showed enough to have more reasons to be optimistic about their futures.
And their losses were perhaps the best examples of why many consider the FCIAC to be the best league in the state this year. Right now there are six schools that could eventually end up in the CIAC Tournaments and final top 15 polls. The biggest concern: there are so many good teams that they might cannibalize each other.
Case in point: Trinity Catholic could be the best team in Class S, but might not get a chance to qualify for the playoffs because of the schedule. The next four weeks are a diet of Class LL opponents: Greenwich, Norwalk, Trumbull and Ridgefield. If the Crusaders can survive the stretch, the second half of the schedule will be much easier to navigate.
The Eagles are in a little better situation with regard to the schedule, though it is hardly a yellow-brick road with the Crusaders, Greenwich, New Canaan and St. Joseph looming.
As we have stated, it is ironic that in a year where we might not have Darien and New Canaan as runaway trains waiting to play for a title, there is no longer a championship game.
One thing seems certain: there probably is going to be two teams that may be worthy of the postseason sitting home on Thanksgiving.
First-Week Bullet Points
One game is not cause for great pronouncements, but some general observations:
— Quarterback play was a concern for both Trinity Catholic and New Canaan. The Crusaders, with their big offensive line and stable of running backs led by Jonmichael Bivona, are constructed to control the ball and count on what appears to be a very good defense.
New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli was hoping one of his quarterbacks would step up, but that did not occur. Freshman Drew Pyne came in and led the Rams on their one scoring drive, but did not build on it. Seniors James Crovatto and Spencer Williams were unable to make the most of their chances. Marinelli said he would watch film and likely see how practices go this week before deciding who will open Friday’s big game with Ridgefield.
— Marce Petroccio won his 200th game at Staples on Friday night, against Brien McMahon. When Petroccio arrived, Westport was referred to as “a soccer town,” meaning you could not win on the football field. Petroccio has proved both sports can flourish.
— Trumbull coach Bob Maffei showed a lot of class after the loss to Ridgefield, standing with Mike King, the school’s athletic director, at the middle of the field 15 minutes after meeting with his team waiting to talk to the press, who were interviewing Tigers coach Kevin Callahan and his players. Most coaches after a disheartening loss would have left.
— That was a big overtime win for Wilton against Fairfield Warde on Friday. The Mustangs appear to be an improved team this year. So are the Warriors. It was a fitting outcome on a night they honored their late former coach, Tom Fujitani.
— We will see whether it is a trend or not, but both games I was at this past weekend were slowed by a hail of penalties. It is hard to tell whether officials were too loose with their flags or teams were making a number of opening-game infractions. Hopefully this was an aberration because it affected the flow of play.
— It was hard not to feel for the Westhill players after their effort went unrewarded in a 22-16 loss to Greenwich. Insiders say the Vikings are better this year. We will reserve judgment on the Cardinals until after Saturday’s game with Trinity Catholic.
1. Darien (1-0). Some people seemed surprised by the Blue Wave’s margin of victory over St. Joseph. They shouldn’t be. The Blue Wave are a viable threat to finish No. 1 in the state again.
2. New Canaan (1-0). The temptation is to bump the Rams down a spot or two after a sluggish offensive performance that did little to settle their quarterback situation. But the defense played at a championship level, and Trinity is very good, so we will wait and see how New Canaan fares Friday against Ridgefield.
3. Staples (1-0). The Wreckers overcame a slow start before finding their groove in a 38-13 win over McMahon. No reason to discount the optimism in Westport.
4. Ridgefield (1-0). The Tigers’ offense was rightfully credited for the comeback from a 27-10 deficit against Trumbull, but the defense stepped up in the second half. Callahan said before the game he thought this unit had speed and would fly to the ball. That is exactly what happened after a slow start.
5. Trumbull (0-1). A very difficult call between the Eagles and Trinity Catholic for the fifth spot. They are entirely different teams. The main reason for going with Trumbull here is depth, but it is a very close call.