There may be no better place to watch a high school football game than New Canaan High School. From the scenic setting, to the people involved, to the talent of the teams over the years, Friday nights and Saturday afternoons at Dunning Field are a joy.
No high school sports team I can think of operates more like a small college program than the Rams. And a large reason for that is Lou Marinelli, who is in his 28th year as coach.
Marinelli has boyish charm, is a great strategist and is terrific with the media. If there is a better coaching staff in Connecticut I haven’t come across it. The team is 10-4 in the state tournament under Marinelli, and a large reason for that is because his staff will give New Canaan a big advantage when it comes to preparing for an unfamiliar opponent in a short period of time.
In doing interviews for a profile I wrote on Marinelli that will appear in Friday’s paper, the thing that I found most interesting is Marinelli is the school’s JV hockey coach. Bo Hickey, his close friend, who has been Marinelli’s running backs coach from the beginning, is the school’s hockey coach. Two years ago he needed a JV coach.
Though Marinelli had never coached hockey before, Hickey asked him to take the job for one simple reason.
“Louie can coach,” Hickey said.
It is a typical Marinelli story. How many other people in his position would do the same thing? Then again, how many people would even be asked?
The Rams were written off by the media before the season started because of all the starters lost from last year’s state championship team. Apparently my colleagues are not familiar with Marinelli’s track record. In two games again supposed contenders, the Rams defeated Trumbull by 28 points and Ridgefield by 27.
There are still a lot of games to be played and this is looking like a league without one dominant team. New Canaan will learn more about itself when it hosts 2-0 Danbury on Saturday.
In a season in which the race for the two spots in the FCIAC championship game could be closely contested, the Rams will be in an advantageous position because of having Marinelli on their sideline.