Is this the year someone crashes the Big Four’s party?

St. Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano returns to call signals for the Cadets' high-scoring offense. (Shelley Cryan/For Hearst Newspapers)

St. Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano returns to call signals for the Cadets’ high-scoring offense. (Shelley Cryan/For Hearst Newspapers)

It’s no secret FCIAC football has been dominated by a Fearsome Foursome of teams over the last 16 years – Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Staples, winner of the last two league championships.

With high graduation losses across the league many believe, that maybe, just maybe 2013 is the season someone will crash the Big Four’s party.

“It could anybody. This could be the year you see two teams with one loss playing for the championship,” St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia said.

At Tuesday’s first ever FCIAC Football Media Night at Zody’s 19th Hole at E.G. Brennan Golf Course in Stamford, the buzz seemed to gravitate towards three teams at having a shot of breaking through: McMahon, St. Joseph and Trumbull.

So, in alphabetical order, we’ll make a case for each squad.


Head Coach: A.J. Albano

2012 record: 6-4

Why the Senators: First off, McMahon returns one of the best players in the league in Tre Forney. Forney is one of the most explosive running backs in the league, rushing for 660 yards on 66 carries last year. That’s 10 yards a carry folks.

Tre Forney rushed for 660 yards last season, averaging 10 yards a carry. (Lindsay Perry/Staff photographer)

Tre Forney rushed for 660 yards last season, averaging 10 yards a carry. (Lindsay Perry/Staff photographer)

“We need to block up front,” McMahon coach A.J. Albano said.
“Tre burst on to the scene last season and has a target on his back.”

McMahon also brings back junior quarterback Matt Downey, who started the final eight games for McMahon last year “and really finished the season strong” throwing for 807 yards and seven touchdowns.

Albano has worked tirelessly to get McMahon headed in the right direction, and coaches around the league have taken notice.

“I’m hearing lots of good things about McMahon,” Greenwich High coach Rich Albonizio said. “They run a wing-T, and not a lot of teams run that anymore. That could be an advantage for them, because no one knows how to defend it anymore.”

Albano knows if his Senators are going to have a shot a success, it will take more than Forney’s speed and Downey’s arm.

“Those four teams do the little things,” Albano said, referencing Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Staples. “That’s what I’ve been preaching to my team. We’ve played Staples the last four years. When they’re in a dogfight they just wait for you to make a mistake. Then they pounce on you and you never recover. Because they don’t make that mistake. The little things is what we’ve been preaching. We need to do more of the little things and luckily the kids understand that.”


Coach: Joe DellaVecchia

2012 record: 8-2 (Class M quarterfinals)

Why the Cadets: St. Joseph rode the right arm of then sophomore Jordan Vazzano – a Hearst Newspapers Super 33 All-Star – into the Class M quarterfinals last season, where it lost to eventual champion Hillhouse.

“St. Joseph is a talented team,” Albano said. “Vazzano has a big time arm and he can run.”

St. Joseph runs a spread offense, so a wiser, more mature Vazzano (2,110 yards passing, 27 TDs; 237 rushing yards) can only mean more nightmares for opposing defenses trying to stop what figures to be high-scoring attack once again.

“It’s another year where understands what we’re trying to do. He’s very confident in our offense and we’re able to add more things,” St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia said. “Jordan played as sophomore and was very raw. He grew into the system. He grasps everything we’re trying to now.”

For St. Joseph to make the postseason again, it might take some of the best football the Cadets have ever played. St. Joseph faces a brutal schedule that includes only four home games and six straight road games spanning October and November. St. Joseph hosts Notre Dame-West Haven to kick off the season as part of the FCIAC-SCC challenge and then visits another SCC hopeful, Fairfield Prep. The Cadets will also face the likes of Ridgefield and Darien at home as well as Wilton, Trinity Catholic, New Canaan and McMahon on the road.

“I think we’ll be pretty good. How far we go … We have the toughest schedule in that state. It’s second to none,” Della Vecchia said. “Whatever we do it won’t be easy, I can tell you that.”


Head coach: Bob Maffei

2012 record: 5-4

Why the Eagles: Like their crosstown rivals, much of the Eagles hopes are tied to their quarterback. After a solid season last year, Trumbull’s Nick Roberts has drawn the attention of coaches from around the league and college scouts too.

Nick Roberts returns under center for Trumbull this season. (Amy Mortensen/For Hearst Newspapers)

Nick Roberts returns under center for Trumbull this season. (Amy Mortensen/For Hearst Newspapers)

“Roberts is a legit quarterback,” Albano said.

Added Norwalk coach Sean Ireland: “I’m hearing big things out of Trumbull, Trumbull High and St. Jospeh. So watch out from up north.”

They are just two of many coaches around the league impressed with Roberts.

“They should be,” Trumbull coach Bob Maffei said. “He’s 6-4 ½, 230 pounds and throws rockets. He knows the offense.”

Trumbull also has a bit of history on its side. The Eagles were the last team to crash the Big Four’s championship game party, reaching the FCIAC final in 2010, falling to Darien. The Eagles were also the last team outside of the Fearsome Foursome to win an FCIAC championship, beating Staples in 2005.

If anything, Maffei seems to know this much: if the Eagles aren’t successful it won’t be for a lack of trying.

“I gonna let the product on the field speak for itself,” Maffei said. “I gotta tell you, our kids worked real hard all winter, all summer. They got up at 7 o’clock in the morning and worked out every day. They’re very well conditioned. We have experience and we got stronger. Hopefully we can return to playing physical football.”

Chris McNamee

17 Responses

  1. UBilly says:

    Nice to get a new post up here! Good luck with the blog Chris.

    It would be nice to see a shake up of the contenders, but Coach DellaVecchia, “toughest schedule in the state”?? A bit of a stretch don’t you think? Maybe not even the toughest in the league. ND-WH is not what they once were so if you really have a shot to do something this year, don’t lose that first game!

  2. PatPatriot says:

    Good luck to all the FCIAC teams in week #1 against the vaunted SCC!!

    Could be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Wreckers – its about time after 3 of the last 4 FCIAC Championships and a ridiculous 1 loss in conference over the past 4 years. In Marce we trust…

  3. Raff says:

    @UBilly- I agree 100%. Coach D saying St. Joseph has the toughest schedule in the state is a stretch? Besides starting out vs ND- West Haven and Fairfield Prep of the SCC and playing home to Ridgefield and @ New Canaan where is this tough schedule?
    Wilton, Bassick and Fairfield Warde? Warde?

    St. Jospeh struggled vs. Hillhouse in the Class M quarters in 2012 losing 34-14 ( yeah I know snow snow snow- both teams played in the snow) and Prep will be a nice early season test.

    St. Joe should know where is stands after the 1st 3 weeks for 2013.

  4. wave says:

    Raff, you’re missing Darien.

  5. fan07 says:

    get ready trumbull back there line are huge and the QB can throw it eagles will at least be in the mix

  6. Raff says:

    @Wave- How could I forget Darien? You are right but on paper from a 7-3 team in 2012 Darien lost a lot. Large SR. class from last year and from what I read a young Qb is starting 2013. Darien you just never know.

    But overall the St. Joe schedule is no where near toughest in the state. Staples and Greenwich are not even on St. Joe schedule.

  7. Dr. Von Nostran says:

    Anyone attend Trumbull/Masuk?

  8. SJ Alum says:

    fan07 … what about the masuk scrimmage?

  9. Trumbull???? says:

    fan07 – you must have missed watching Masuk dismantle Trumbull. Yea I know it was a scrimmage but the final one , full game situations. The game was a joke. Masuk beat them on both sides of the ball, it was a joke. Trumbull is not a very good football team and this article is way off base. Unless Masuk is for real.

  10. fan07 says:

    didnt see masuk trumbull scrimmage but trumbull has done well this offseason

  11. wave says:

    Speaking of Darien’s new QB, he looked mighty impressive against Mcmahon in the two teams’ scrimmage today. I think the final varsity score was 38-7 after 3 quarters. Watch out for Darien.

  12. Lil Joe says:

    Any one see SJ scrimmage vs foran? Herd SJ crushed them

  13. JB says:

    @PP- great vote of confidence for your home team. The Wreckers thank you for your team support …

  14. The Dude says:

    Trumbull has a big time QB. But not sure about the rest of the supporting cast. They also have a tough schedule so I see 7-4, 6-5 at best for them

    People have been very quiet on Ridgefield. This may be their year to breakout.

  15. RAY BROWN says:

    we’ll see if masuk is real ,when they go to ansonia

  16. jeb says:

    New Canaan vs. Hand is the marquee game of the week. I hope it lives up to advance billing.

    no one will touch Ansonia this year..too good on both sides of the ball…

    The SCC should prevail in the first Fciac vs Scc challenge winning 11 of the 17 games.

  17. fciac jr says:

    I have it 9 to 8 in the challenge. what a way to open up the season with the two best football leagues in the state going to battle.

    Going to try to make the Hand-NC game but it will be packed and not sure if I can get there on time.