By Dave Ruden
NEW CANAAN — Last season was filled with frustration for Alex LaPolice. A sophomore noted for his potential, the New Canaan High School receiver and punt returner never really got the chance to exhibit his skills. He suffered a broken collarbone in the third game of the season and was limited when he returned for the postseason.
“It was tough, LaPolice said. “I just wanted to get back on the field.”
That opportunity came Wednesday night, and LaPolice made the most of it. He scored the first two offensive touchdowns on catches of 14 and 19 yards to help lead the Rams to a convincing 50-21 season-opening win against Daniel Hand. LaPolice had good chemistry with Rams quarterback Nick Cascione.
“It was exciting,” LaPolice said. “The team played unbelievably tonight. The offensive line did a great job and Nick set me up for big plays. Just go with the game plan.”
LaPolice finished with 4 catches for 62 yards. In all, nine different New Canaan players caught passes.
“We practiced hard all week,” LaPolice said. “We thought we could be successful. We did a good job executing.”
The Rams’ have had one of the state’s most prolific offenses for the past decade, but this summer the unit relinquished the spotlight to a defense that figures to dominate.
“Give the defense the credit,” said Cascione, who finished with three touchdown passes. “They win games for us. They gave us good field position. I’m happy to be in the dark. I was happy with our performance. When you put up 50 points on anybody, that’s good.”
The New Canaan running backs and receivers lack any superstars. The work will be done by a committee of a number of strong players.
This is a strength, not a weakness.
“There’s no one dominant guy,” Cascione said. “You need a bunch of guys to make plays. There’s no one playmaker. It’s we, not me.”
Cascione and LaPolice were members of the New Canaan baseball team that won its first state title since 1950 last spring.
“Alex was great tonight,” said Lou Marinelli, the Rams’ football coach. “He and Nick are great baseball players. That’s the great thing. The best athletes play multiple sports. That’s what I want. I’ll take those guys anytime because they are athletes.”
LaPolice, who also returns punts, said he was anxious to get the opportunity to make plays and contribute.
“I wanted to prove myself and prove this team is one of the best in the state,” LaPolice said. “I think we proved that tonight.”
Cascione said if there was one problem with LaPolice’s performance, it is that opposing defenses will now take notice.
“He really stepped up,” Cascione said. “He played a lot bigger than I think people thought. I’m kind of sorry people are going to know it now.”