DARIEN — Darien came out Saturday with an intensity it hadn’t had all season.

The Blue Wave defeated Staples 27-0 at home to earn a berth in the FCIAC title game with rival New Canaan on Thanksgiving, and after a season without much of a test undefeated Darien took the field against the rival Wreckers with something to prove.

“They were very ready,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said of his team coming into Saturday’s contest. “After the last three or four games where the starters had to come out at halftime they were looking forward to a challenge and Staples, who I think is a year away, has some very good young players and no matter what (Staples coach) Marce (Petroccio) is always very good; the intensity started Monday, you should have seen practice all week.”

For the second straight season, Darien (8-0) and New Canaan (8-0) will play for the FCIAC championship on Thanksgiving morning at Boyle Stadium in Stamford. Darien beat New Canaan 28-21 in OT in last year’s title game, only to see New Canaan return the favor in the Class L-Large championship 21-20. Darien is 3-2 against New Canaan the last three years, winning three straight Turkey Bowls and the Rams two straight state championship games. The teams will be meeting for the 89th time.

Saturday, the Darien defense was able to nullify the run-option attack of the Wreckers, forcing four turnovers and blocking three punts — one for a safety — while earning the shutout. However, it was what happened with 48 seconds remaining in the first half that will be remembered by the Blue Wave faithful for years to come.

Mark Evanchick, who came into the game needing just ½ a sack to surpass Bloomfield’s Dwight Freeney for the all-time Connecticut sack record, corralled Wreckers quarterback Andrew Speed and threw him to the ground.

Evanchick would finish the game with three sacks, putting him at 62½ for his career and firmly atop the record book.

“It was definitely a wave of relief,” said Evanchick, who was surprised postgame with a congratulations video from Freeney himself. “Looking back at this game a 27-0 shutout victory for us is great, we wanted to control the line of scrimmage going in, we know they have some very tough offensive lineman. They gave us all we could handle today, but we really held our own and stepped up to the plate.”

Offensively, Darien (8-0) was efficient and did plenty to hold up its end of the contest. Timmy Graham threw three touchdowns, two to Colin Minicus and one to Shelby Grant, and lineman Cord Fox ran one in from a yard out in Darien’s short-yardage package.

On the other side of the field, Staples (6-2) was hit with a blow very early that it couldn’t ever recover from.

Star running back Ethan Burger carried the ball on the first play for the Wreckers and came off the field with a leg injury and did not return. He was replaced by Connor Adrian.

“With Adrian at running back, who’s a very good player for us, going both ways against a team that’s going to throw like this team does playing safety and running back is tough,” Petroccio said.

The offensive woes however, Petroccio attributed more to the play of Darien than to the loss of Burger.

“I thought they did a very good job defensively and we couldn’t get any push up front,” Petroccio said. “We tried to run the option and we just couldn’t; they’re a very good football team.”

Staples now has it’s annual Thanksgiving matchup with Greenwich; needing a win and probably some help to reach the state playoffs.

aparelli@bcnnew.com; @reportedbytheAP


STAPLES 0 0 0 0—0

DARIEN 6 8 13 0—27

Records: S 6-2; D 8-0.

D—Cord Fox 1 yd run (PAT failed)

D—Colin Minicus 24 pass from Timmy Graham (2-pt failed)

D—Safety (blocked punt by Christian Trifone)

D—Minicus 5 pass Graham (Riley Stewart kick)

D—Shelby Grant 12 pass Graham (PAT failed)