DARIEN—Around high school football in Connecticut, different teams approach spring in different ways.
Some opt for practice and an intra-squad spring game, some just practice and some forego it all together.
While Darien doesn’t have the spring game, Rob Trifone believes that practicing for those ten days can play a productive role for the upcoming season.
“We had a very productive spring,” Trifone said. “Tome teams opt not to do it but I think it’s a very positive way to start off the summer and set the tone for what needs to get done over the next two months.”
Trifone and Darien—winners of the last three state titles—have proven that the needs that tend to arise on high school teams will be addressed in due time. That starts every year with addressing the turnover from a season ago.
“We’re very deep at receiver and running back, we got a lot returning from guys that either started last year or rotated in quite a bit,” Trifone said. “Up front you only return two linemen, the linebackers are all back and led by Connor Fay.”
Fay, an All-State selection from a year ago will be entering his third year in the middle of the Darien defense. If nothing else, Trifone knows he has a tackling machine with experience to anchor that side of the ball and bring along the newcomers.
Besides the veterans, it’s admittedly tough for him and the rest of his coaching staff to get a read on what the younger faces will bring to the team.
Wearing just shoulder pads and helmets, the spring is more about preciseness in the scheme, rather than actual football.
“I thought they looked really sharp in the spring,” Trifone said. “How good we are is not the issue, it’s how good everybody else is going to be. I think this is probably the best group of FCIAC teams that I’ve seen in a long time.”
The veteran coach isn’t wrong.
Darien will be strong as it always is, but schools like New Canaan and Greenwich look to be the class of the league in 2018.
The Cardinals went undefeated in coach Johnny Marinelli’s first year at the helm before falling to Darien in the snow in the state championship.
New Canaan has four Division I commits, led by Notre Dame-bound quarterback Drew Pyne, who is starting his third season as the signal-caller for the Rams.
Not to mention St. Joseph, which is always strong and returns a good group, or Trumbull, which should make a leap with former Staples coach Marce Petroccio taking over.
But Darien is still Darien, and in all likelihood will be in contention until the very end, led largely by a talented group of skill-position players.
That group starts with receiver, where the duo of Tyler Herget and TJ Cornacchia should form one of the most formidable duos in the state.
Herget was a focal point of the offense late last year, totaling 320 yards and four touchdowns.
Cornacchia saw less playing time, finishing with 173 yards and two scores, but Trifone has been impressed by what he’s seen from the rising junior so far.
“You saw him last year and that kid can catch anything you throw near him,” Trifone said. “I wouldn’t call it a surprise, but he has performed as expected and he had a great spring.”