FCIAC teams compete at Grip it & Rip it
NEW CANAAN — Last summer, Darien quarterback Timmy Graham was getting his first taste of running the Blue Wave varsity offense at the Northeast Grip it & Rip it 7 on 7 football tournament and it was a lot to take in.
This summer, after leading the Blue Wave to the FCIAC championship last fall and leading the varsity for a full year, Graham said everything is coming much easier to him.
“It’s a lot different. Everything is moving a lot slower and reading the field is a lot easier,” Graham said. “I have been running this offense since seventh grade but the speed is just so much faster at the varsity level. This tournament is great for the timing with the receivers and quarterbacks on offense and for the younger kids this is a good time to learn the varsity plays.”
Graham and the Blue Wave were in New Canaan Friday and Saturday along with 26 other teams from the northeast and even one from Canada at the Northeast Grip it & Rip it 7 on 7 Tournament.
Joining Darien from the FCIAC were Greenwich, New Canaan, Trinity Catholic and St. Joseph.
Grand Street from Brooklyn, N.Y. won the tournament, beating defending Class LL champion Southington in the championship game 30-23.
Darien was the top FCIAC finisher coming in third place.
Trinity Catholic quarterback Anthony Lombardi was playing in his first Grip it and Rip it and said getting on the field with receivers he may not have played with last season is invaluable.
“It gives me a better understanding of our guys. Who is faster than the other, who runs routes well,” Lombardi said. “Getting reps and working on timing are the best part. Seeing who can play because we have a bunch of talented guys.”
Being able to work on timing and getting repetitions is a big part of the tournament but teams also like to see other teams from their conference.
“It is kind of fun playing against FCIAC teams out of season,” St. Joe’s linebacker Cam Ryan said. “You can see what they are doing and what new things they might be working on. It is a good time out here.”
Harding will not be in the FCIAC this coming year, moving on to the CSC but they still enjoyed taking on and watching their old FCIAC foes.
Harding receiver Xavier Bass said building a relationship with his teammates was the biggest thing he takes away from the weekend.
“It’s a great experience. Throwing the ball around, getting closer to your teammates and quarterbacks get in tune with their receivers. It is just an all-around good experience,” Bass said. “Playing well here gives us confidence that we can complete with good schools. It is nice to see good competition and nice to be playing and not just practicing.”
The competition is not just for offenses to get in sync but also defenses, especially defensive backs.
“We are working on a lot of coverages, zone, man and footwork and knowing where to be when teams run their options,” New Canaan defensive back Mike Cognetta said. “You get to compete and see a lot of stuff. These teams bring a lot and you have to counter it and we learn what to do in certain situations.”