On Wednesday, the CIAC held its annual state football final luncheon at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. Before we get to a few details on each team, we note that there could (yes, could) be a change to Saturday’s schedule. As of now, the day of events at Central Connecticut State’s Arute Field reads like this: St. Joseph-Brookfield in the M final at 10:05 a.m., Darien-New Canaan in the L final at 2:05 p.m. and Southington-Fairfield Prep in the LL final at 6:05 p.m.
Now, here’s where it could get tricky…The forecast for Saturday evening is calling for a 90 percent chance of snow, totaling 3-5 inches. Sunday’s outlook is for freezing rain. So, with the LL tilt sitting in a questionable weather window, CIAC executive director Paul Hoey said there’s a possibility the game will be moved up.
Per rules, the games must be completed by Sunday.
HELLO, AGAIN: Darien will meet New Canaan, again. New Canaan will meet Darien, again. The neighboring rivals first met this year, like always, on Thanksgiving. The Blue Wave stunned the previously unbeaten Rams that day, 28-24. Their next meeting will be in Saturday’s L final, but Blue Wave coach Rob Trifone wishes his team were facing someone outside of the FCIAC.
“I don’t care if it’s New Canaan, or anyone. I love playing Daniel Hand and Middletown,” Trifone said. “Show me a team somewhere up in the middle of the northern part of the state. I don’t care if they beat us 45-0. But, at least you’ve got an opportunity to see another program.”
“To play your Thanksgiving Day rival a second time,” Trifone continued, “I think, number one, is a tough task. Number two, you just don’t branch out.”
Let’s note that Darien beat Hand, 31-29, and Middletown, 12-7, along its road to the final.
New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said that the familiarity between the two teams should make for a well-played game.
“It kind of makes it easier than playing some guy you haven’t seen,” Marinelli said. “You’re trying to get film, you’re trying to break it all down. They have all our games, we have all their games.”
FAMILIAR WITH HISTORY: All eight state finalists have been here before. All of them have won as well.
Ansonia will be making its 27th all-time appearance in the CIAC final — and fourth in the last five years — when it faces Woodland Friday in the S final. The Hawks have made the fewest trips to the final of the bunch — two, in 2004 and 2005 — but have won both.
Here’s the rest of the list, with total finals appearances and records: St. Joseph (13th appearance, 10-2 in previous finals), New Canaan (13th, 8-4), Darien (11th, 4-6), Southington (7th, 1-5), Brookfield (6th, 2-3), Prep (5th, 3-1).
OFFENSE APLENTY: Darien is on a roll with nine straight wins. Ansonia’s as dominant as usual with a 14-0 record. And, how about that mighty St. Joseph offense?
The Cadets have always been talented, as evidenced by the 428 points (38.9 average) they scored in their first 11 games. Their 62-34 rout of Barlow in the M semifinals gave them 207 points over their last three games. Perhaps even more remarkable, they did all that scoring against Barlow after losing tailback Mufasha Abdul Basir to injury on the game’s third play.
The Cadets got 190 yards rushing and four touchdowns (three on the ground) from wide receiver Shane Miller. Tailback Joe Civitella tacked on 114 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. Quarterback Jordan Vazzano even got into the act on the ground, sprinting to a 52-yard score.
“We just use other kids in different ways. We’re very diverse,” coach Joe DellaVecchia said. “We have a lot of kids that can do a lot of things.”
No one has done more on the ground this season for St. Joseph than Abdul Basir. He will return for Saturday’s M final against Brookfield after suffering a stinger in the semifinals.
“The St. Joseph offense is never just based off of one guy,” said Abdul Basir, who’s run for 2,315 yards and 28 touchdowns. “There’s so many good weapons on the team, from the receiving core all the way down to guys on the sidelines. Everybody’s ready to go.”
When asked Wednesday if he could recall a time when St. Joseph’s offense was this explosive, DellaVecchia pointed to the Cadets’ last state title season, 2010.
“In 2010 we scored at will,” he recalled, “but usually in the third quarter we were pulling everybody out of the games. The big thing is teams are scoring with us, so we’ve been playing a lot longer.”
The Cadets have allowed 109 points over the three games.