DARIEN—There’s a reason Darien has won 32 games in a row.
More accurately, there’s a slew of reasons; but one big one is the ability to adjust on the fly.
Nobody’s perfect, even if their record says they are, so when Darien looked a bit nonchalant in a 17-0 win over Fairfield Warde two weeks ago, coach Rob Trifone knew his team needed to hit the reset button.
“Needless to say, we were sluggish against Warde,” Trifone said. “And if it had to happen, let it happen in a win. So, we met with the team on Monday and we talked about the way they approached practice the Warde week and I said were fixing that this week, and we had very crisp, sharp practices and it showed in the first half against Trumbull. It was a good lesson for our team.”
That first half was a 41-0 clinic in high school football that eventually ended in a 48-0 win for the now 6-0 Blue Wave.
There’s no doubt that Darien is loaded at every position, the Warde game—which looks more like an anomaly after last week—was about complacency.
That newfound focus instilled isn’t just good news for the Wave, it’s very bad news for the rest of the state.
Every football team at every level is going to deal with injuries, but this year the injury bug seems to be biting the Blue Wave a little harder than normal.
“You don’t win 30-plus games in a row without being pretty healthy,” Trifone said. “Football is a game where you lose two or three key players and you’re struggling. We’ve had a few more injuries than usual this year, but nothing too serious, fortunately.”
At one point in the Trumbull game, No. 1 receiver Max Grant was in street clothes wheeling fellow starting wideout Patrick Burke in a wheelchair.
Meanwhile, Darien was driving right down the field with reserves like William Rolapp leading the receiving corps the last couple weeks.
“It’s guys that aren’t necessarily household names in our program right now,” Trifone said. “But they’re good role players that step up when we have some injuries.”
Help may be on the way however, as Grant—who hasn’t played since the second week with an ankle injury—and Sean O’Malley—a pass-rusher and running back who hasn’t suited up yet—may be only a week away from returning.
“We hope to get Max back in another week, we get Sean O’Malley back in another week,” Trifone said. “So, I think we’re going to get healthy at the right time.”
There’s high-flying attacks all around the FCIAC with school like Greenwich, New Canaan, St. Joseph and Ridgefield flexing their offensive muscles every week which makes for little talk about defensive play.
In that regard, look no further than Darien, which is allowing just 5.8 points per game—not even a touchdown’s worth.
“It’s certainly one of our strengths, and has been during the run and we’ve hung our hats on it the last couple of years,” Trifone said of his defense. “The difference this year, is how strong we are on the second and third levels. Not that we’re not strong up front, but it’s hard to replace some of the high-profile defensive lineman we’ve had.”
It’s impossible to consistently get guys that have played in the last few years like George Reed, Mark Evanchick, Jack Tyrell, Cord Fox, Quinn Fay and Andrew Stueber, but the 2017 front has held itx own—and the guys at the back end are up with the best Trifone’s ever had.
“It’s hard to compare one class to the next and one defense to the next,” Trifone said. “If we could take this second and third level and combine it with the line from the last couple years, then you’re totally lights out.”