New Canaan's defense dominating the oppostion
NEW CANAAN -- Look at the final scores of the New Canaan football team and you'll see they have allowed just 89 points through five games. A stat thay might impress you.
Take a closer look and you'll see that the Rams have only allowed six first half points all year -- on a kick return against Greenwich. What does that tell us? That most of the points scored against New Canaan have come with the Rams holding big leads and with the first-team defense on the bench.
The offense may grab the headlines by scoring over 40 points a game, but it is on the other side of the ball where the Rams are truly frightening.
In fact, if not for the defense getting off the field, the Rams would not be able to run nearly as many plays as they have this season.
"If you look at our last game with Danbury we had a short field almost every time because of our defense," head coach Lou Marinelli said. "We have a philosophy of a fast tempo offense and that only works if the defense can get you the ball back. They are not just a good defense, they have scored a number of points on defense, which is a tremendous help."
New Canaan's defense is full of returning starters, many of them three-year lettermen. That experience gives the coaching staff confidence and rubs off on the up-and-coming underclassmen.
More InformationChicopee (Mass.) (2-3) at New Canaan (5-0)
When: Friday, 7p.m.
Where: Dunning Field
A look at the Pacers
Head Coach: Alex Efstraios (10th season)
Key players: Tony Slaughter CB/RB, Dominic Cirillo OL , Nick Estey OL/DL; Michael Murdock TE/LB, Isaiah Green RB, Riley Campbell QB
About the Pacers: Playing out of the Suburban League in Western Massachusetts, Chicopee is just north of Springfield. The Pacers run a Wing-T offense, relying heavily on a smash-mouth running game. When the Pacers do air it out, it is mostly to the tight ends. The Rams defensive coaches may have to pull out some film from the early 90s, when the Wing-T was the popular offense in the FCIAC. The spread, rapid-fire offense of the Rams and the grind it out style of the Pacers makes for an interesting dichotomy.
-- Scott Ericson
"They are able to jump into a lot of thing because the knowledge is there," Rams Defensive Coordinator Bill Kurtz said. "We have to make certain we don't bypass the younger guys and teach them so that knowledge continues, but it is a big benefit to have those kids back."
New Canaan's veteran defensive players are able to make adjustments on the fly, being able to see opponents tendencies develop on the field.
"I think we are pretty fortunate that they are a pretty talented group but they are also very smart," Kurtz said. "Their football IQ is good, their knowledge in the game is good. They make things a little bit easier, that's for sure."
That senior leadership includes captains Cole Harris (LB) and Connor Buck (DL) as well as seniors Michael Root (LB), Brandon Pak (DL), Beau Santero (DL), Alex Dobbin (DL), Teddy Bossidy (DB), Max Wilson (DB) and Mike DiCosmo (DB).
DiCosmo says the Rams' defensive philosophy is simple, and kind of fun.
"We just like to fly around, hit people really hard and get to the ball," DiCosmo said. "We have had a lot of turnovers so far this year, so, we are doing pretty well."
The Rams have seven interceptions and six fumbles recovered through the first five games while registering 17 sacks.
Buck, who has two of those sacks, says getting to the quarterback is the most satisfying moment for him on defense.
"We just want to hammer the other team and dominate, it's pretty short and sweet," Buck said. "Getting to a quarterback feels pretty nice. I try to make sure he goes down, if I get the ball, nice, but I just want to get him down. We take a lot of pride in what we have done so far."
It is a long standing tradition at New Canaan that the defensive player who recorded the biggest hit the previous week gets the honor of leading the team onto the field the next week, carrying the ceremonial sledgehammer.
Last week the honor belonged to Harris, who has two interceptions and 49 tackles on the season, for a hit he made against Warde the previous week.
Harris said he is not necessarily comfortable leading the charge onto the field and being a rah-rah guy but is always honored to get a chance to carry the sledgehammer.
"It's pretty cool," Harris said. "I am not usually one to be there upfront with all the hooting and hollering but it was a nice change to lead the team out in front of the crowd."
As the days get shorter and the schedule gets tougher, the Rams may allow a first-half offensive score, they may not. But if the team hopes to raise FCIAC and Class L banners, it will be the offense on the front page, but it will be the defense that gives the Rams the chance to be there.