The six-time State Champion Darien High School boys' lacrosse team appears poised for another run to the pinnacle. The Blue Wave, which has won each of the five Class M titles since the divisional format was done away with, rolls into the 2011 campaign as the favorites to win it all once again.

As the No. 2 seed in last year's tournament, the Blue Wave crushed No. 1 New Fairfield 17-5 in the finale, and Darien brings back talented players throughout the lineup.

Darien entered the season with its usual high national ranking and the players and coaches have the mindset that they still have to prove they're the best -- a scary proposition for the opposition.

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"It doesn't matter where someone ranks us until we beat the teams we have to beat," senior captain and midfielder J.P Walsh said. "We're all really, really excited. This is going to be a huge year for us."

The captains are defender Eric Parnon and midfielders Baylis Treen and Walsh. Other key players are senior attackmen Case Matheis, Richard Gregory and Ben Preston. The midfield is led by senior Graham Maybell, juniors Henry West, Bobby Weaver, Jon Magnusson and Tim Murphy, along with sophomore Sean Foley.

Senior defender Christian Kolderup and junior Tony Britton will lead a group of backliners who will help protect senior goaltender Dylan Torey along with backups, senior Dylan Hurd, junior Hunt Bartram and freshman Phil Huffard. Darien's faceoff specialists are senior middie Brandon Coley and junior middie Clay Barker.

"We're an athletic team that's returning a lot of power on defense," said coach Jeff Brameier, adding that the only graduate from the defensive corps from last year is George Benetiz. "We have a good senior class and we're comfortable with what we have coming back."

Darien, as always, has a lineup full of college-bound players, including several who have been recruited to play at the Division I level. The team is in a tough conference which includes last year's Class L State Tournament semifinalists Staples of Westport, always-tough Greenwich, Class S runners-up St. Joseph of Trumbull and fellow Class M contenders New Canaan and Wilton.

If there was any question about just how good the team is, Darien pounced on season-opening opponent St. Joseph to the tune of an 18-4 shellacking on April 6, then toppled Greenwich 13-6 and defeated Danbury 21-2. The Wave will take on tough out-of-state teams Yorktown, St. Anthonys, Niskayuna and Manhassett all of New York.

It wasn't a cake walk to last year's state title. Darien narrowly got past familiar FCIAC foes Wilton and New Canaan, edging each by just a goal in last year's state playoffs.

"We're battle-tested. We should be in the mix, every year, for an FCIAC title and a state title," Brameier said.