The media likes to kill the FCIAC for putting too many players on its All-Conference team. This year 40 were honored.
In trying to select my own Ruden Report team, the large number is understanding. There are tough cuts to be made. The league does not want to slight any deserving players.
Still, I decided to put together a team of just 25 players, including a utility player, kicker and punter. Just one player on my team was not voted All-FCIAC, and that was one of the most difficult choices.
Some caveats: I added a dozen players worthy of recognition, and even that was not enough, but at some point you have to draw a line. Some very good players were left on the cutting room floor. The NCAA Tournament has a 68-team field, and there are still arguments on some omissions.
I put more emphasis on players I saw in person. Admittedly, at many games writers are focused on tracking statistics. That means not as much attention can be paid to offensive line play.
With that in mind, here is The Ruden Report All-FCIAC Football Team.
Player Of The Year
Zach Allen, New Canaan. There were a number of standout performers this season. St. Joseph’s Lars Pedersen and Mufasha Abdul-Basir. New Canaan’s Alex LaPolice. The members of the Darien defensive line. But no player stood out on the field more than Allen, the Rams’ outstanding outside linebacker. Regurgitating his statistics fail to do Allen justice. He just seemed to be involved in every play. And never took a play off. He was at his best in the FCIAC championship loss to Darien, with four sacks and three forced fumbles. Allen did it all with amazing humility. “We” was used much more often than “I.” Allen is a just a uniquely special player. And better person.
Coach Of The Year
A.J. Albano, McMahon; Mark Ecke, Danbury. Coaches with talented teams often go overlooked. Should Darien run the table, beating New Canaan for a second time and the state title — and even if not — Rob Trifone did an outstanding job. The same goes for New Canaan’s Lou Marinelli and St. Joseph’s Joe Della Vecchia in getting their teams back to the state final. I had to cop out here because I really couldn’t decide between Albano and Ecke. Albano led a team no one was talking about to the brink of playing for the FCIAC title and in the state playoffs. The final two losses don’t detract from his accomplishments. Many expected Ecke to find success in his first year at Danbury. But no one was talking about an eight-win season. Good times will continue for the Hatters.
Jack Griffiths, Darien. There were several players on the final list here, but ultimately I decided to go with a player not at a so-called skill position. Griffiths is one of the few who could have been voted All-FCIAC both on offense and defense. A punishing blocker, he and Jack Tyrrell did an outstanding job in the middle of the defensive line, while ends Mark Evanchick and George Reed got the sacks and most of the acclaim. Griffiths has personified the term unsung this fall.
All FCIAC Team
QB: Michael Collins, New Canaan
RB: Mufasha Abdul-Basir, St. Joseph
RB: Timmy Hinton, McMahon
WR: Alex LaPolice, New Canaan
WR: Lars Pedersen, St. Joseph
TE: Scooter Harrington, Greenwich
OL: Evan Adams, Norwalk
OL: Jack Griffiths, Darien
OL: Troy Vazzano, St. Joseph
OL: Lucas Niang, New Canaan
OL: Jim Keneally, New Canaan
UTL: Austin Longi, Greenwich
DL: Mark Evanchick, Darien
DL: Jack Tyrrell, Darien
DL: George Reed, Darien
DL: Will Newmann, Staples
LB: Zach Allen, New Canaan
LB: Thomas Costigan, Trinity Catholic
LB: Nick Esposito, Staples
DB: Michael Kraus, New Canaan
DB: Sterling O’Hara, New Canaan
DB: Juju Snider, McMahon
DB: Anfreny Ith; Danbury
K: Paul Tricarico, Staples
P: Ryan Fitton, Staples
A dozen reasons why the FCIAC picks more than 25 players for the first team: Andrew Antoine, Stamford; Brandon Bisack, Warde; Jalen Brown, Stamford; Jack Dulsky, Staples; Malaki Holan, New Canaan; Anthony Lombardi, Trinity Catholic; Tysheen McCrea, Danbury; Pierre Moudourou, Danbury; Wade Petro, Warde; Randy Polonia, Trinity Catholic; Stephen Walker, Darien; Jack Weigold, Greenwich.