Darien set to visit St. Joseph
Given how this FCIAC football season is shaping up, is it any wonder Week 4 brings another matchup of elite teams?
This time it is Darien and St. Joseph taking center stage with both teams ranked in the Top 10 of the state coaches poll and the Cadets in the top 10 of the state media poll at No. 6.
The Cadets are ranked No. 3 in the coaches poll with the Blue Wave coming in at No. 7.
Oh, and the two teams staged an epic double overtime affair last season, which St. Joseph's won, giving Saturday's battle in Trumbull a little extra juice, not that it needs it.
Darien coach Rob Trifone said his team remembers the game, but with 24 players graduating from last year, it is not their biggest motivation.
More InformationDarien (3-0) at St. Joseph (3-0)
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Key players: St. Joseph -- QB Jordan Vazzano; RB Mufasa Abdul-Basir; WR Lars Pedersen; Darien -- QB Silas Wyper; RB Nick Lombardo; PK Daly Hebert
At stake: Both teams have postseason aspirations in the both the FCIAC and at the state level. The dreams could be dashed for eithe team with a loss.
"I have heard a little bit about that game," Trifone said. "I think for the most part they have put that out of their minds and really, most of these kids were on JV last year."
The Cadets were highly regarded coming into this season while Darien was a bit of an after thought until convincing wins over Hillhouse and Greenwich grabbed the attention of the state.
St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia, for one, has taken notice of the Blue Wave.
"We are expecting them to do what they always do," Della Vecchia said. "Darien has a really good offense. They throw a little more than teams we have seen so far, but we have seen two spread offenses and know what to expect."
Trifone said he has watched St. Joseph on tape and it only confirmed his belief that the Cadets were one of the top two teams in the league.
"Coming into this year I thought the two best teams were New Canaan and St. Joe's, by far," Trifone said. "They are like an All-Madden team, I can't find a weakness. They have a massive `O' line, great quarterback, great running back and talented receivers. We are trying to put together schemes to get them off balance and sack Vazzano but you do that at the expense of coverage."
Wyper has not been the signal caller long, but has established himself as one of the FCIAC's top passers.
"He has been a pleasant surprise," Trifone said. "He only played JV last year but has proven to be a great leader and has lived up to the expectations."
By contrast St. Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano has been starting for three years and the Cadets feed off his experience.
"(Vazzano) has been there and he understands what it takes," Della Vecchia said. "He certainly gives our wide receivers confidence that he can get them the ball. We have a lot of kids with experience including on our offensive line. They have done a great job protecting Jordan and opening up the running game."
The running of the senior, Abdul-Basir, has helped create time for Vazzano to throw and given balance to the Cadets' potent attack.
"Mufasa is a hard runner and a tough kid and we are really happy to have him back running the ball for us," Della Vecchia said. "We are not a 50-50 run-pass team, but we take what is there. It is a big deal if you are able to run the ball."
Lombardo gets the headlines at Darien but Trifone says his team's strength is it's depth and cohesiveness.
"Lombardo is the big name, but he is surrounded by talented players in the backfield and at receiver," Trifone said. "I have coached more talented teams but I can't remember a team as tight as this one. They are all leaders and it is a nice chemistry."