Darien, Greenwich, St. Joseph star in latest football polls

The strength of the top three football teams in the FCIAC — Darien, Greenwich and St. Joseph — is fully evident by the rankings of the most recent two Week 11 state high school football polls which were both released Nov. 13.

Undefeated Darien and Greenwich are ranked first and second, respectively, while St. Joseph is fourth in both the coaches poll compiled by The Day (New London) and the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register Top 10 Poll which is voted on by the media.

December 13, 2014. That is the date when the Darien High School football team last lost a football game — a 21-20 defeat to rival New Canaan in the state championship game of the 2014 Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Class L-Large Playoffs.

Since then Darien has won the previous two Class LL state championships and finished No. 1 in the final state polls both seasons. The winning streak is now up to 34 after this past Saturday’s 42-0 victory at Bridgeport Central improved this year’s record to 9-0.

It was Darien’s fourth consecutive shutout victory, with the last points scored against Darien coming in a 32-6 Darien victory at Staples on Oct. 13.

Although Darien was very much a senior-laden team last year, for coach Rob Trifone it is never a case of rebuilding in any of these given recent years but more simply a case of reloading.

Darien finished 13-0 last year after its 28-7 victory over fellow FCIAC foe Ridgefield in the Class LL final and the Blue Wave ended the 2015 season at 12-0 after defeating Shelton, 39-7, in the Class LL championship game.

Darien has a 46-1 record during these last four years as the the 2014 Blue Wave finished 12-1 and ranked fourth in the final Register Top 10 state poll after that championship loss to New Canaan.

So dominant is Darien that it has scored more points in six of its nine games this year than the total of 35 combined points it has allowed all year. The Blue Wave has outscored the opposition 346-35. That averages out to 38.44 points per game on offense and 3.88 points allowed on defense.

Darien was ranked No. 1 unanimously in both of the most recent polls, receiving 24 first-place votes from the media voting members and all 13 first-place votes from the coaches, including FCIAC coaches Joe DellaVecchia of St. Joseph and Marce Petroccio of Staples.

In both polls the voters vote on their respective top 15 teams in order and points are tabulated on a 30-28-26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis.

Darien compiled 720 points in the Register’s media poll and 390 points in The Day’s coaches poll.

Coach John Marinelli, the son of New Canaan’s current legendary coach Lou Marinelli, has done quite the job in having his Greenwich program improve steadily in each of the recent few years.

John Marinelli’s 2017 Cardinals improved to 8-0 when they cruised to a 57-7 home victory last Friday over Danbury. The Cardinals average a whopping 48.5 points per game and their defense allows 13.4 points per game. They have outscored their foes 388-107.

As it has evolved, both the media and coaches polls have the same teams in the same exact order in rankings 1-9 and those teams were ranked the same way in the previous week’s poll. They were all victorious last weekend.

Greenwich received 334 points in the coaches poll and third-ranked Ansonia (9-0) was just four points below that while the Cardinals had 644 points and Ansonia 564 in the media poll.

Fourth-ranked St. Joseph (8-1), that third FCIAC team among the top four, was just ahead of fifth-ranked Windsor in both polls. St. Joseph had 294 points, 10 more than Windsor in the coaches poll, while St. Joseph had 524 points and Windsor 513 in the media poll.

St. Joseph has won six straight games since a 42-10 loss at Darien on Sept. 23 and that was the only game this year in which DellaVecchia’s potent Cadets have scored less than 38 points. They average 41.55 points per game offensively and have allowed an average of 20.88 points, having outscored their opposition by a 374-188 margin.

The teams which repeated in slots 6-9 were Masuk (9-0), Shelton (8-1), Middletown (9-0) and West Haven (7-1).

New Canaan utilized a 45-0 victory Friday night at home over Fairfield Ludlowe to return to the Register’s Top 10 and become the fourth FCIAC team in it.

The 7-2 Rams, who have lost to Greenwich and St. Joseph, and South Windsor (8-1) each totaled 98 points to tie for the 11th most points in the coaches poll.

That No. 10 slot was the only one where the media and coaches pollsters disagreed as Daniel Hand (8-1) received 124 points to complete the coaches’ Top 10. Hand received the 15th most points in the media poll.

Coach Lou Marinelli’s Rams have won four straight and outscored their opposition by a 152-32 margin since Oct. 14, when the son’s host Greenwich Cardinals team beat his father’s team by a 36-21 margin.

Lou Marinelli, it cannot be forgotten, has had quite his own dominant program the last handful of years.

Last year his Rams gave him his fourth consecutive state championship and 12th overall with a 35-20 victory over Windsor in the Class L state championship game. They finished 12-1 and ranked second behind Darien for the second straight year in the Final GameTimeCT/New Haven Register Top 10 Poll.

In 2015, New Canaan (11-1) won the Class L crown with a 42-35 victory over North Haven. The 2014 Rams rallied back from a 20-7 halftime deficit to pull out that 21-20 victory over Darien in that wild Class L-Large state championship game to finish 11-1 overall and ranked second in the state media poll behind undefeated Southington (12-0).

The 2013 Rams set a school record for wins when they finished 14-1 after their 44-12 victory over Darien in the Class L championship in which John Marinelli was the offensive coordinator for his father.

So, including this year’s 7-2 record, New Canaan has a 55-6 overall record since the beginning of the 2013 season.

Other than the two losses this year, New Canaan’s only other losses from 2013-16 have been one each year during that Thanksgiving rivalry game against Darien. And, oh, by the way, the Rams need to win that game this year for the opportunity to win a fifth straight state championship.

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