Updated 8:31pm Dec. 11 — Darien returned to the scene of a crime-not-its-own and vindicated the season.
Beating top seed Greenwich 31-22 back at Boyle Stadium for its first state title three-peat in school history, the Class LL crown helped to make the Turkey Bowl fiasco fade into nothing through the canopy of snowflakes that fell all game long.
I couldn’t have asked more from those trench people; because you know, you win those games in the trenches.
— Rob Trifone
“After that Turkey Bowl, when people counted us out — look, teenagers could have easily folded,” said Darien coach Rob Trifone. “But I made sure that wasn’t going to happen. I had a few words of encouragement.”
Count senior captain Mitch Pryor encouraged.
“We came out here more motivated than ever before,” said Pryor. “We did this for (Darien’s second suspended player) and Brian (Minicus). Maybe I’m not supposed to talk about that now, but that’s what we did this for. And that’s what I need to say.”
Hands down playoffs MVP quarterback Jack Joyce said it all with his play tossing his first of two touchdowns to Tyler Herget (30 yards) and running one in from 40 yards down the middle to give the Wave the first quarter lead — it sure needed to defend down the stretch — but that Darien never let go of the rest of the way.
The Wave finishes the season at 12-1, the Cardinals lose for the first time in 2017.
Joyce completed 11 passes on 24 tries for 102 yards and ran 20 times for 113 yards.
He was sacked four times.
Darien was up 21-13 at the half and had a second quarter touchdown reception from TJ Cornacchia (23 yards) with 11:21 on the clock and Pryor snow-capped it with 18 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, crashing in from the three.
Austin Hagander let sail with a 37-yard field goal to kick start the fourth quarter, and finished with four PAT.
Cards QB Gavin Muir went 15-for-34 for 280 yards, had two touchdowns, was intercepted once, sacked twice.
Tysen Comizio led Greenwich in rushing making it 110 yards on 27 sprints, and Muir was kept corralled only meandering 14 yards on three runs.
He passed four yards to Henry Saleeby — lead receiver with 80 yards — as Greenwich cut the lead to 14-6 with five minutes to go in the first quarter.
Muir threw 40 yards to Jael Negron to make it 21-13 with 3:48 to go in the second quarter and the Cards were stopped on the rushing PAT.
But Greenwich crawled back with a trifecta of field goals.
Zachary Moore kicked a 25 yard three-pointer in the third and made back-to-back field goals of 36 and 38 yards respectively in the fourth.
Then Pryor bashed in over the line with 18 seconds to go to snow cap the victory.
“We got after them and they really started to believe in themselves, without (the unavailable players),” Trifone said. “We had guys stepping up all over the place.”
The Wave defense could be named MVP collectively for holding back a spirited, dangerous last series of possession by Greenwich with a few minutes to play.
“Mike Forget continues to do a great job as our defensive coordinator,” said Trifone. “And I told our line, we’re going to win it in the trenches. And Greenwich put up a heck of a fight, there’s no question.
“But between our offensive linemen, Ryan Sullivan, Connor Henry — you’ve got Mike Neary, you’ve got Willy Keating and Bobby Keeney; they did a great job.”
Darien’s trenches were dug deep, even as the snow kept pouring in.
“And defensively you’ve got (Charlie) Zuro, you’ve got Neary, (Drew) Evanchick, (Sean) O’Malley, and Christian Evans,” said Trifone. “I couldn’t have asked more from those trench people; because you know, you win those games in the trenches.”