NEW CANAAN—The judgement on Chris Silvestri from those in New Canaan will vary depending on which generation you ask.

Those 35 and over will remember the Rams star running back and safety, who played in the early 90’s and holds virtually every rushing record in New Canaan as well as being the winner of the Gatorade Player of the Year in his senior season.

Those younger will speak of the New Canaan defensive coordinator, who was helped the Rams win 12 state titles in his time as a coach.

After playing in college at Lafayette and Fairfield University, Silvestri knew he wanted to stay around the game.

“When I finished playing I coached at Fairfield University for three years and I loved it,” he said. “I was a graduate assistant and I was a defensive back and outside linebacker coach and it was a lot of fun and I knew I wanted to do that. When I got out of the college coaching career it was a leap of faith, you never know where it’s going to take you and I had an opportunity to work in the private sector and I was able to coach right after I got off of work and coach at New Canaan.”

Since then, he’s slid right into a culture that produces champion after champion. And it’s no accident.

“Each coach takes a lot of pride in what they’re doing,” Silvestri said. “We’re not here for the money. The community really rallies around the football program and the kids pick it up at an early age and what we strive to be as assistants. The upcoming youth players, we hope they can’t wait to play for us; we’re always around, we’re always trying to help and that hasn’t changed since I’ve been here.”

While that basic foundation remains constant, the game is ever changing, and one of the things that makes New Canaan so continuously strong it the ability to keep pace.

“We’re educators first, but were also learners, we’re students,” Silvestri said. “(Coach Lou Marinelli) does a great job of getting us out to learn new things. Year-round we’re trying to pick up things and learn the trends, he gets us in contact with a lot of college and professional and high school coaches. We’re always trying to get better, Lou has been through the wing-t, he’s been in the pro offense and now the spread and we’re doing some new things all the time. You’re always tinkering with things and it’s never perfect, but there is something in having pride in what we do and trying to get better and having an edge in getting kids get more involved.”

Silvestri couldn’t wait to play for Marinelli growing up, and now gets to use him as a sounding board and voice in his ear while coaching the defense.

“I respect his opinion 100%, I always try to pick his brain and he lets me know what he sees out there,” Silvestri said. “He’s been very complimentary of me and I’ve had great mentors…he grew up on the defensive side of the ball, so I have some of their philosophies that they really trust.”

Each of the last several years, Marinelli has listed the defense as a question mark heading into the season, trusting completely that Silvestri will get it figured out.

Without fail, he does.

“A good offense helps,” Silvestri laughed. “That’s certainly a good thing when you’re putting stress on teams offensively and teams are trying to play catchup. For the most part it’s the kids, they buy in to what we’re doing, most have chips on their shoulder when they go out and play.

“They’re all really good athletes, they study football on and off the field and we push the envelope learning, we’ll walk slowly at first doing a lot of the defensive installs but we don’t walk backwards and that’s what we try to tell them. It’s fundamental football to the best that we can do it and it’s been the same since Lou got here in 1981. It’s fundamental defensive football, how to tackle, how to get off blocks and how to cover kids.”

It’s really as simple as that.

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP