QB has best game yet

The New Canaan High School football team spent the better part of the past week getting berated following a loss to St. Joseph that threatened both its FCIAC and state tournament hopes.

It also raised questions about the Rams, who opened the season with five wins against teams with a combined four victories.

Needing to keep their postseason hopes alive and answer their critics -- and perhaps themselves -- the Rams played with a sense of urgency Saturday, rolling to an impressive 43-7 rout of Wilton on their Homecoming Day.

Matt Milano threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for the team's other score and added a two-point conversion pass.

Kevin Macari, the Rams' All-State receiver, had five catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns. He also added a 45-yard punt return.

"We gave a hell of an effort and we're happy," Macari said. "We knew with everything that happened we had a slim margin for error. We are going to have to fight."

The victory was a confidence boost for a team that was shaken up seven days earlier, and needs wins and bonus points to have a chance at a fifth straight state title. The opportunity will come during the Rams' most difficult stretch of their schedule, three remaining games against Greenwich, Bridgeport Central and Darien.

"We appealed to our kids and asked them, `What are we?' " New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. "What kind of a team are we? Wilton's been in every game they played before today and it was important for our kids to see they can play with the good teams as well."

Though Milano threw a pair of interceptions, the Rams' vaunted vertical attack was the sharpest it has been all season. Milano completed five passes of 30 or more yards. Two of his scores to Macari covered 31 and 58 yards. He also hooked up with Patrick Newton on a 52-yard touchdown, though that was largely due to some nifty moves by the junior receiver.

"We exploded from the get-go," Macari said. "We got to open things up this week."

The Warriors (3-4) had played competitively in losses to Trumbull, Darien and New London, but fell behind early and could not recover.

New Canaan scored on its first possession and took a 15-0 lead before Wilton responded with an eight-play drive that resulted in Ned Hemmerle's 2-yard touchdown that made the score 15-7 with 8:32 left in the first half.

The Rams answered right back when Milano found Willie Gould alone in the left corner of the end zone from 18 yards for a 22-7 advantage.

New Canaan needed just six plays to travel 74 yards following the second-half kickoff. Joe Costigan had a 22-yard run and Conor Goodwin (110 yards of total offense) rambled 26 yards to set up Milano's 9-yard pass to Macari for a 29-7 lead.

"Fortunately we had a couple of guys who were able to catch the ball and able to help us," Marinelli said.

The New Canaan defense, led by Jimmy Joe Granito, rebounded from last week with a more consistent performance.

Hemmerle finished with 91 yards on 23 carries, and Matt Reyes-Guerra-Dunn had five catches for 66 yards to lead Wilton.

The Rams closed out the scoring in the final period on a beautiful 58-yard strike from Milano to Macari with 4:11 left. It erased a bit of doubt lingering in Marinelli's mind.

"After last week we were really wondering if we were really that bad," Marinelli said. "I think the kids made a statement."