New Canaan beats Windsor for fourth straight state title
NEW BRITAIN — The New Canaan football program stands alone.
No. 2 New Canaan (12-1) used a dominant second-half defensively and a pummeling performance from its offensive line on its way to a 35-20 win over previously unbeaten No. 1 Windsor (12-1) in the Class L championship at Veteran’s Stadium in New Britain.
It is the fourth-straight Class L championship for the Rams and their 12th CIAC title overall.
“It means I’m getting old, that is what it means,” Marinelli said. “Eddie is a class act and for me to be tied with him is incredible. I should retire now so we can go out together. I am very fortunate to be a part of a great coaching staff and have great players.”
Graham Braden rushed for 190 yards on 24 carries as the Rams bigger offensive line wore down Windsor.
“This is fabulous. I am on cloud nine right now,” Braden said. “We knew they would be a little weak up the middle and I think we exposed that. I have to give all the credit to my O-line. They were fabulous and I am so proud of each and every one of them. I think we could have driven that bus we rode up on through some of those holes.”
New Canaan ran the ball 43 times for 242 yards while only passing it 13 times with Drew Pyne completing 10 of 13 passes for 137 yards.
Windsor, which came in averaging 35 points per game, cruised down to the 7 — instead of the Warriors taking an early lead, it was the Rams’ defense setting the tone, turning Windsor over on downs.
New Canaan would score on their first drive when lineman Teddy Hood, lined up as a fullback, dove in from 2 yards out, making it 7-0.
A fumble recovery off a botched snap set New Canaan up at the Windsor 8, where Pyne connected with Braden, putting the Rams up 14-0.
Windsor did rally with touchdowns by Jakhari Grant on a 12-yard run and Tim Gardner on a 1-yard plunge.
New Canaan also got a touchdown on a 26-yard pass from Pyne to Ryan O’Connell with 1:32 in the half. O’Connell finished with seven catches for 94 yards.
The Rams led 21-14 at half, but Windsor had little chance in the second half as defensive coordinator Chris Silvestri devised a plan to slow the Warriors’ attack.
Gardner, an All-State running back, had 100 yards rushing at the half, but only finished with 108 as the Rams shut him and the rest of the Warriors down.
“Our defense has been doing it for us all year,” Marinelli said. “(Silvestri) makes me look good and he has been doing it all year long. They say I have all these wins, but I have news for you. If it wasn’t for him as a player and as a coach and as a signal caller I am certainly not where I am. I love him like he’s my son.”
The New Canaan defense had four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery on the day.
With the defense holding the Warriors in check, the Rams offensive line took over on the other side against a tired team of Warriors, many of whom play both ways.
In the second half, New Canaan got two field goals from Grant Morse (31, 21 yards) and an 11-yard run by O’Connell, capping the Rams’ scoring.
Windsor added a score with 2:03 to play on another run by Gardner.
“They are a solid program,” Windsor coach Robert Fleeting said. “Holding penalties killed us and some missed blocking assignments up front hurt us. We continued to fight and we found some holes but we couldn’t sustain things. I really wish we could have played better defense. We could have given them a better game if our defense was better.”
NEW CANAAN 35,
NEW CANAAN 14 7 6 8—35
WINDSOR 0 14 0 6—20
Records: NC 12-1; W 12-1
NC—Teddy Hood 2 run (Grant Morse kick)
NC—Graham Braden 8 pass Drew Pyne
W—Jakhari Grant 12 run (Eric Foster kick)
W—Tim Gardner 1 run (Foster kick)
NC—Ryan O’Connell 26 pass Pyne (Morse kick)
NC—Morse 31 field goal
NC—Morse 21 field goal
NC—O’Connell 11 run (Braden pass Williams)
W—Gardner 8 run (kick failed)