Waiting the hardest part
NORWALK — The high school football season officially kicks off Friday, putting an end to what Darien coach Rob Trifone is sarcastically calling, “the longest preseason in North American history.”
Except the Blue Wave won’t be playing.
This weekend, 15 of the FCIAC’s 17 teams will be on the sidelines. Some will be practicing, some will be scrimmaging and others will be taking a break from football altogether. And Trifone?
“We’re scheduled to scrimmage Trinity (Catholic) on Thursday, but Stamford has shut down practice at all schools today and (Wednesday) because of the heat,” Trifone said Tuesday at the FCIAC football media day at Bogey’s Grille and Tap Room in Norwalk. “So (Crusaders coach Donny Panapada) isn’t sure he can go on Thursday, nor do I blame him. So we’re up in the air.”
In place of retaining both its Thanksgiving rivalries and championship game, the FCIAC forced teams to trim their regular season schedules from 10 to nine games. Most teams won’t start until Week 2, while defending Class M-Small champion St. Joseph will have to wait until Sept. 25 at McMahon to kick off.
After graduating nearly his entire starting lineup, Cadets coach Joe Della Vecchia won’t let the time off go to waste. There’s still plenty of roster spots to be won and mistakes to fix.
“It is what it is,” Della Vecchia said. “It’s going to serve a good purpose where we can get a lot of little things done, correct a lot of things that we did wrong. We have more time to fix them. We don’t have to hurry up.”
Della Vecchia hasn’t had any luck scheduling a scrimmage, so practices and film study will have to serve as the Cadets’ main prep work for now. They don’t have any other choice.
“Some days we look great, some days we don’t look so hot,” he said. “It’s an experience thing. For some of the guys, this is the first time they’re really seeing things happen so fast. ... From that aspect, it’s a big learning curve for us.”
Greenwich’s John Marinelli is also tackling a learning curve, although he’s in a slightly different situation than a veteran like Della Vecchia. Marinelli’s prepping for his first head coaching gig after a lengthy stint as offensive coordinator under his father, Lou, at New Canaan.
Consider the younger Marinelli a fan of the extended time off.
“I like it, personally,” he said. “I don’t like the nine-game schedule, but I like having the extra week as a new head coach. It gives me another chance to work with the kids and make some decisions. Obviously, being there for only five months, I’m getting to know them.”
Greenwich has a scrimmage against Warde on Thursday, which Marinelli is calling the “tune-up” for the Cardinals’ Sept. 18 opener at Trinity.
But what about this weekend?
“I think it’s good to step away,” Marinelli said. “This weekend I’ll probably watch some college football.”