Rivals Darien, New Canaan capture state football championships

The Darien Blue Wave and New Canaan Rams both claimed state championships on Saturday, and will likely finish as the top two teams in the final state pool this week.

Darien ended its 19-year drought of state titles with a 39-7 blowout of the Shelton Gaels in the CIAC Class LL final at New Britain’s Willowbrook Park.

Christian Trifone started the game with a pick six, returning an interception 20 yards to give the Wave the lead for good. His twin brother, Bobby Trifone, added a 48-yard interception return in the second quarter, as the Darien defense had four picks overall.

Shelby Grant ran for TDs of 5 and 7 yards, and quarterback Timmy Graham threw two touchdown passes to Hudson Hamill — one for 3 yards and the second for 37 yards.

Darien, which finished the season with a 12-0 record, led 12-0 after one quarter, 18-0 at halftime, and 32-0 after three quarters. Shelton’s lone score came in the closing moments, after the Wave went up, 49-0.

The state championship was the first for head coach Rob Trifone, who took over as the team’s head coach in 2008, guiding the Wave to runner-up finishes that year and again in 2013 and 2014.

Darien’s last state title was under head coach Mike Sangster in 1996, when the Wave beat Bloomfield 21-16 in the Class S final.

The Blue Wave has won five state championships in program history, and has appeared in the finals 13 times.

The New Canaan Rams celebrate after Matt Cognetta’s 53-yard touchdown run for the opening touchdown Saturday in West Haven. — Dave Stewart/HAN Network photo

New Canaan completed its state championship three-peat with a wild 42-35 win over the North Haven Indians in the Class L final at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.

Ryan O’Connell scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard leap over the line with 3:34 remaining, capping a clock-eating drive of 6:06.

Senior running back Matt Cognetta had a fantastic day, racking up 225 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. He scored on a 53-yard run  on the Rams’ second play from scrimmage, and later added a one-yard TD run.

O’Connell scored twice on the ground, and Mike Cognetta had a three-yard TD run.

The Rams’ other TD came on a nine-yard pass from QB Michael Collins to Kyle Smith. Collins finished the year with 54 touchdown passes — the most in Connecticut high school history.

The win, which gave New Canaan an 11-1 record this year, was head coach Lou Marinelli’s 300th with the Rams.

New Canaan has won state championships in three straight years and seven times over the past decade. The Rams also have 11 CIAC titles and have appeared in the state finals 15 times.

Here are some story links from the games:

• Darien Times: Nineteen-year wait over early for Wave in 39-77 Class LL title win

• New Canaan Advertiser: New Canaan, Cognetta, run past North Haven for Class L crown

• New Canaan Advertiser: New Canaan football tops North Haven 42-35 for CIAC three-peat

• Darien Times: Finished Business

• The Ruden Report: Cognetta’s toughness, offensive resilience results in New Canaan’s third straight state title

• Stamford Advocate: Darien routs Shelton to win Class LL football title

• Stamford Advocate: For Darien, it really is all about family

• Stamford Advocate: New Canaan edges North Haven for third straight state championship

• The Ruden Report: Twelve months in works, Darien wins first state title since 1996

Head coach Rob Trifone and the Darien Blue Wave celebrate with the CIAC Class LL championship plaque Saturday in New Britain. — Darien Athletic Foundation photo