FCIAC

The Last Train: New Canaan Football Graduates Working Out Together Before Heading To College

Cole Harris (right) and Nick Cascione are two of five New Canaan football graduates training together before going to play in college. (Photo: Dave Ruden)

Cole Harris (right) and Nick Cascione are two of five New Canaan football graduates training together before going to play in college. (Photo: Dave Ruden)

STAMFORD — The five players gather at BlueStreak Sports Training in Stamford at noon, four days a week. They start with some light warmups and stretching exercises before going through a full workout.

The scene could have taken place last summer, or the summer before that; a group of teammates working in preparation for the start of a new season.

That goal is no different, though in this instance the training is both a beginning and an end.

Connor Buck, Nick Cascione, Mike Donnelly, Cole Harris and Michael Root were among the key components that led the New Canaan football team last fall to a 14-1 record, including league and state championships.

Now they are, in a sense, teammates one final time, bonding together before going their separate ways to begin their college careers, with several about to share the same field in different uniforms.

“It’s pretty cool that we’re all together again working hard for the common goal,” said Nick Cascione, the Rams’ quarterback, who is going to continue his career at Sacred Heart University. “We’re all going to play each other. It should be a lot of fun.”

The Pioneers’ second game of the season is against Lafayette, where Root and Donnelly will be teammates. Sacred Heart lost in the playoffs a year ago to Fordham, where Cole is headed. Fordham and Lafayette will both be playing Colgate, which is where Buck will be playing.

Michael Root goes through a stretching exercise during a recent workout. (Photo: Dave Ruden)

Michael Root goes through a stretching exercise during a recent workout. (Photo: Dave Ruden)

“It’s kind of nice. It feels like we’re still playing for New Canaan a little bit,” Buck said. “It’s one last time working out together.”

Buck said the group sessions were not a calculated effort but rather forged by circumstance.

“We didn’t plan this out,” Buck said. “It wasn’t like let’s hang out together. It’s more like we’re going to do training, let’s do this because it is the best thing for us.”

Cascione was the last to join the group because he was a member of the New Canaan baseball team, which did not finish its season until early June.

“They reached out to me to do it, and I said why not,” he said.

New Canaan’s Connor Buck (99) and Cole Harris stop St. Joseph’s Mufasha Abdul-Basir during Friday’s FCIAC championship game. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

New Canaan’s Connor Buck (99) and Cole Harris stop St. Joseph’s Mufasha Abdul-Basir during the Rams’ win last November in the FCIAC championship game. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

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Cascione is going attempt the arduous task of double duty. He has a partial football scholarship from Sacred Heart and is going to also try to walk on to the school’s baseball team.

“I have no idea how I am going to prepare for it, but I’m going to try and make it work the best I can,” Cascione said.

Cascione hasn’t had a chance yet to meet some of his future teammates: six other Sacred Heart players are working out at BlueStreak this summer.”

During breaks, the five New Canaan players continue another type of sharing: fond memories of one of the best seasons in New Canaan history.

The Rams scored 40 or more points in 11 of their 15 games. There was a 31-20 win over St. Joseph in the FCIAC final, their first league title in five years.

In the state playoffs, the Rams followed a pair of shutouts with a 44-12 win for the Class L title.

That game reversed the one blemish: a 28-24 loss to the Blue Wave in the annual Turkey Bowl.

The New Canaan players admitted that both the highs and lows come up in discussion.

“We still reminisce about those games,” Cascione said. “One glaring one is the Darien game we lost on Thanksgiving. It’s still something I think about every day. It’s tough. We came close, but 14-1, you can’t complain. It’s something you’ll always remember forever.”

Buck said the team is preparing for the next section in their memory files.

“Now some of us will be playing against each other,” Buck said. “We will talk some on the field. I’ll get in their faces. But off the field we’ll still be good friends.”

Friends that might be having the same experience 12 months from now.

“We’re going to try and do this again next year if we can,” Cascione said.