By Dave Ruden
DARIEN — He has a name made for a marquee and headline writers, and is obviously a fan favorite with the student section that waved an enlarged photo of his face from the stands.
On a day that was a mixed bag for the Darien High School football team before its season-opening game with Hillhouse was suspended due to lightning early in the fourth quarter with the Blue Wave leading, 40-26, the debut of quarterback Silas Wyper was a stirring success.
The game will be completed, with 9:40 remaining, Friday at 4.
“Silas has looked very good early on and he was good today,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “He’s very much in control. He completes passes. When he doesn’t, he goes back into the huddle and is ready to complete the next play.”
Wyper was on target more often than not Thursday afternoon. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 245 yards and 4 touchdowns. He rushed 8 times for 55 yards. Save for an errant screen pass in the opening quarter than was returned for an interception, Wyper provided optimism for a Darien team that because of personnel turnover is something of an unknown at this point, talented at many spots but with questions that need to be answered if it is going to compete for an FCIAC title with a brutally tough schedule.
“I’m really happy,” Wyper said. “I had that one screen pass for a pick-6, which wasn’t good, but I thought we moved the ball well. I wasn’t really nervous. There are so many guys making it easy for me. I give them the ball and they make plays.”
One of them, track star Nick Lombardo, demonstrated why he is one of the FCIAC’s most dominant players. He had 4 touchdowns and 176 total yards, including scoring receptions of 40, 18 and 52 yards.
“Oh my goodness,” Wyper said of Lombardo. “With his speed he’s hard to overthrow.”
It was a strange day. Hillhouse’s star running back, Harold Cooper, was taken away in an ambulance at halftime, with either a head injury or dehydration, depending on who you believe. Given that he had few touches, it was reasonable to speculate Cooper was either hurt early or started the day at less than 100 percent.
There were seven timeouts in the third quarter due to players cramping, and at times the Blue Wave was forced to put an injury-depleted defense on the field. While Gatorade seemed to be plentiful on the Darien sideline, Trifone said it was a different issue.
“Don’t ask me why, but most of the guys who were cramping have shin splints from excessive conditioning,” Trifone said.
Without all the stoppages, it is likely the game would have been completed and Trifone would have been able to address his team’s giving up some big plays that has allowed Hillhouse, the defending Class M state champion, to stay within striking distance, not to mention proper hydration.
Asked if having the game stopped was a positive or a negative, Trifone said, “Half our team was cramped on the sideline, so I assume it would help you. Who the hell wants to wait 24 hours?
Besides the play of Wyper and Lombardo, the Blue Wave also answered back each time Hillhouse drew near.
“I felt the only positive in the game because I’m (angry) at my team is we responded each and every time,” Trifone said. “You let them hang around. Anything can happen in 9:40.”
Hillhouse will be receiving the kickoff when play resumes Friday. Trifone is expecting his defense to play like it did early in the game. And Wyper, both the fan and coach favorite, goes from unknown commodity to added security.
“The student support was super today,” Wyper said with a smile. “I blocked out the rest and played football. It was a little frustrating have the game stopped, but we will rest and come back ready.”