FCIAC

Weekend Game Plan: Darien And Greenwich Meet In Key Showdown

Greenwich's Scooter Harrington sacks Trinity quarterback Anthony Lombardi during last Friday's game.

Greenwich’s Scooter Harrington sacks Trinity quarterback Anthony Lombardi during last Friday’s game.

The second week in the season is when clarity starts to take form. First-week impressions can quickly turn into trends or aberrations. With just a nine-game season, an 0-2 start can either wipe out postseason hopes or signal the fear of an early free-fall.

The second week this year brings us our first must-see game of the season.

And for one team, unbelievably, its first game.

Game Of The Week

Darien (1-0) at Greenwich (1-0), Saturday, 4 p.m. Only a handful of contests this year will bring as many storylines as the third straight meeting between the Blue Wave and the Cardinals. Last year the teams met in the second week. Darien lost five fumbles but managed to escape Cardinal Stadium with a 33-26 win. That outcome helped propel the Blue Wave to an FCIAC title run. Greenwich would open 0-3, a hole it almost but ultimately was unable to extricate itself from.

The temptation is to set an over-under line at 80 points. Greenwich scored 42 to outlast Trinity Catholic last Friday, while Darien put up 47 … in less than a half against Stamford,

12022229_747748675352925_635659741_oNew Greenwich coach John Marinelli is no stranger to game-planning for Darien: he did it annually — often twice — at his previous position as New Canaan’s offensive coordinator.

Greenwich was content to run the ball and primarily use short passes against Trinity and that may be the strategy again, with Darien having its entire secondary back from a year ago and defensive end Mark Evanchick 15 sacks away from the state record.

The outcome figures to hinge on the Greenwich defense. It gave up too many long scoring plays against Trinity, and the Blue Wave come armed with a much superior running game.

Marinelli said he thought part of the problem was correctable mistakes. Mental errors against Darien could mean an early knockout.

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Schedule

Friday

Trinity Catholic (0-1) at Norwalk (1-0), 7 p.m. These were the two teams most mentioned as sleepers during the preseason. The Crusaders were surprisingly explosive in their loss to Greenwich; the Bears jumped out to a big lead, then withstood a late rally by Fairfield Warde. If Trinity can get a win here, it will be in a great position to make a state playoff run.

Ridgefield (0-1) at Fairfield Ludlowe (0-1), 7 p.m. Each team is coming off a decisive loss. The Tigers have the more difficult schedule the rest of the way.

Staples (1-0) at Wilton (0-1), 7 p.m. Some people have slid one foot off the Wrecker bandwagon after it struggled to put away Danbury last week. That might be more attributable to the Hatters being a solid team. Staples is going to have one of the league’s best rushing attacks.

St. Joseph (0-0) at Brien McMahon (1-0), 7 p.m. Yes, they still do play football at St. Joseph. I can attest to that: I saw them practicing on Wednesday afternoon. Actually there has been a lot of practicing going on. The Cadets have been doing it one week longer than the rest of the league and two weeks more than the rest of the state. Now we see if practice makes perfect. We need a little bit more body of work to assess the Senators, who have seen their playoff hopes dashed by the Cadets the last two years.

Westhill (1-0) at Trumbull (1-0), 7 p.m. The Eagles may be one of those teams that get no preseason hype and end up being a notch below the title contenders. McMahon has filled that role of late. Trumbull gets its home opener against Westhill, which is coming off a bye and looking to prove it, too, is better than most people think.

Stamford (0-1) at Fairfield Warde (0-1), 7 p.m. The Mustangs have their strong second-half comeback last week to try and build on. The Black Knights were decimated by graduation and transfer losses. After losing to Darien, this will be a better measuring stick.

Saturday

Bridgeport Central (1-1) at New Canaan (1-0), 1:30 p.m. An impossible spot for the Hilltoppers. The Rams play their home opener and already are getting unfamiliar players stepping up to continue the performances of departed stars. And all that early hype for New Canaan quarterback Michael Collins? It is well deserved.