NEW CANAAN — Joe Della Vecchia figured he had a simple yet effective gameplan. After watching film of New Canaan before a week of practice in preparation for tonight’s much anticipated battle of top 10 opponents, the St. Joseph football coach thought his receivers were fast enough to create openings in the secondary that would lead to big gains.
It took just one play for Della Vecchia to assess his strategy.
Quarterback Jack Wallace’s 58-yard scoring completion to Will Diamantis to start the game was the first of five touchdown passes — three to Diamantis.
The Cadets had a 28-0 lead after the first quarter and extended it to 42 points by halftime. The end result was a 58-14 win that was shocking in its decisiveness.
“Honestly, I knew right after the first play. The opening play to start the game off. Right there I knew it was just going to click and we would keep rolling,” said Diamantis, who averaged nearly 34 yards on his four catches. “All the success came from energy. We wanted to play fast, play hard and just dominate in all aspects of the game.”
There was a running clock in the second half, not an uncommon site at Dunning Field. It was stunning to see it employed for the Rams (2-2), the No. 9 team in the state.
“Credit to them,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “They are very well coached and they have some great kids. It worked. Speed kills. They just kind of ran away from us.”
Wallace, in his first major game since taking over at quarterback, was nearly perfect. He completed 10 of 13 passes for 236 yards.
“We just stuck to our gameplan on offense and knew it would work,” Wallace said. “We exploited coverages a little bit here and there. Both sides played phenomenal, offense and defense. We were just clicking tonight.”
The Cadets needed just 75 seconds with their second possession to double the lead on Diamantis’ 20-yard touchdown catch.
Before the quarter was open, Wallace hit Jose for a 14-yard score and found Diamantis free on a 48-yard play that made it 28-0.
“Those guys are good. Diamantis, Hutch, Jose,” said Cadets coach Joe Della Vecchia, referring to Brady Hutchison. “Those guys are fast. Owen DaSilva had a big game. And Jack, what a day he had. He read everything to perfection. Our line I thought did a tremendous job. The best they’ve played all year.
“We talked about some matchups that we wanted to try and get ourselves into, and we got them early. We took shots at it and it worked. I thought we could score and move the ball. I thought if we ran our routes and Jack had a good game and we protected we could definitely make some big plays. Our kids were ready to go.”
The Cadets are 4-0 and have outscored their opponents by a 201-35 margin. Tonight was their most points of the season, and they were the most varied.
Alex Pagliarini returned an interception for a score and a blocked punt led to a safety.
And the Cadets are just the No. 2 team in the state. Right now they seem on a course to face the team ranked ahead of them, Daniel Hand, in the Class L playoffs.
Asked if tonight was a message to the rest of the state, Diamantis smiled.
“You could say that a little bit,” he said. “Try to stay humble. Keep going.”
Jaden Shirden rushed for 117 yards and a score for the Cadets.
New Canaan will likely now have to win the rest of its games to have a chance of returning to the postseason. The Rams had one good first-half drive that resulted in quarterback Drew Pyne’s 1-yard touchdown run. Zach LaPolice made a nice catch and run on a pass from Reid Brown for a 75-yard score in the final quarter.
“They’re very good and we’re a little young,” Marinelli said. “We’ve got some growing to do. We just have to go back and Thank god we have the bye next week to have two weeks to try and figure this all out.”