NEW BRITAIN — The record-setting pass-rusher and the shutdown corner, two key cogs of Darien’s juggernaut defense, got the party started early on Saturday at Willow Brook Park.

Mark Evanchick brought the heat on Shelton’s Zach Tuskowski, forcing the senior quarterback to hurry a throw out to the flat. Christian Trifone, the head coach’s son, jumped the route and returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown.

Only 16 seconds into the Class LL championship, Darien had its first lead. And it didn’t let up.

With its dominant defense leading the charge, the No. 2 Blue Wave rolled past top-ranked Shelton, 39-7, and captured its first state in 19 years.

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CLASS LL KEYS TO THE GAME

MAD RUSH: Darien’s highly touted defensive line overwhelmed Shelton up front, sacking Dave Wells four times and forcing several other hurried throws. Gaels starter Zach Tuskowski broke his collarbone on the fourth play from scrimmage on a hit by star pass rusher Mark Evanchick.

INJURY BUG: It might not have changed the result, but the injury bug finally caught up to Shelton. Outside of No. 1 receiver Kevin Robinson, who had six catches for 86 yards and one touchdown, the Gaels’ banged-up offense didn’t do much of anything.

GIVING IT AWAY: Darien intercepted four passes, two of which went back for scores. The turnovers were uncharacteristic of a Shelton offense that had made a living on protecting the football for much of the year.

HISTORY DID NOT REPEAT ITSELF: Darien blew a 13-point halftime lead to New Canaan in last year’s Class L-Large final and lost 21-20. This year, the Blue Wave kept its foot on the gas and used two touchdowns in the first four minutes of the third quarter to go up 32-0.

— Doug Bonjour

“That was an unbelievable start for us. I think that did set the tone,” said Evanchick, who finished his career with a state-record 66 1/2 sacks after adding two more Saturday. “A pick-six to start the game, what’s better?”

What’s better? How about two pick-sixes? A 48-yard interception return by Christian’s brother, Bobby, off David Wells increased Darien’s lead to 18-0 midway through the second quarter.

All told, the Blue Wave registered four interceptions and held Shelton’s potent offense to a measly 124 yards.

“That’s an excellent football team,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said of Darien, which finished the year 12-0. “In my mind they’re the best team in the state. They have it all. They really don’t have any weakness. Defensively, they’re just tough up front.”

Plagued by injuries all season, the Gaels (12-1) lost Tuskowski to a broken collarbone in the first quarter and never recovered. Wells passed for 95 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in relief.

“It was just tough putting a backup quarterback in there in that position, but he played hard,” Roy said. “We tried to go in there and execute, but it just didn’t happen after that.”

Hudson Hamill intercepted Wells’ second pass and doubled the Blue Wave’s lead just moments later. Timmy Graham connected with the senior for a 3-yard touchdown, making it 12-0 less than four minutes in.

Graham finished 19-of-29 passing for 252 yards and two touchdowns to Hamill. He also threw one interception.

“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said, following the program’s first title since their Class S triumph in 1996. “Right now these boys and their coach are on Cloud Nine.”

Shelby Grant (12 carries, 38 yards) rushed for touchdowns of 5 and 7 yards, respectively, early in the third quarter to expand the lead to 32-0. At that point, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when, the Blue Wave could celebrate.

“We win a lot of lacrosse state championships. We’re all on the lacrosse team,” Graham said, holding back tears of joy. “To win one in football, I think we’ll remember this for the rest of our lives.”

dbonjour@ctpost.com; dbonjour@ctpost.com

DARIEN 39, SHELTON 7

DARIEN 12 6 14 7 — 39

SHELTON 0 0 0 7 — 7

D — Christian Trifone 20 interception return (Kick blocked)

D — Hudson Hamill 3 pass Timmy Graham (Pass failed)

D — Robert Trifone 48 interception (Pass failed)

D — Shelby Grant 5 run (Riley Stewart kick)

D — Grant 7 run (Stewart kick)

D — Hamill 37 pass Graham (Stewart kick)

S — Kevin Robinson 24 pass Dave Wells (Joe Zoppi kick)

Records: Darien 12-0; Shelton 12-1.