Darien High School Class of ’16 grad and outside linebacker Britton Barthold was part of the football team’s “chosen ones” as he said they were called.
As peers of the sons of Darien High School football coach Rob Trifone, he and his fellow football players had the special classification of being coached by Trifone from third grade through their senior year of high school. Such a long history with Darien football gives Barthold some insight into the story he is about tell with the release of his book, “12 —the story of the 2015 Darien High School football team.”
The book, which will be released on Aug. 3 on Amazon, is what Barthold calls a combination of memoir and news reporting.
In what he describes as exhaustive research, Barthold’s book is the product of nearly 30 interviews with former players and coaches — and his own experiences. He examines the pressures of Darien’s successful athletes — pressures that are not unlike those of any others across the country in their position. In asking his peers why they play football, many focused on winning.
“There were players trying to hide crying after the game. We were not supposed to lose,” he said. Barthold describes the program’s glories and the darkness in the book, which also discusses problems with youth drinking and more serious problems for the team that resulted from it. He also examines the intense reinforcement of the rivalry against New Canaan from a very young age.
“We were taught to hate New Canaan at 8 years old — and we didn’t know why,” he said.
Barthold also talks about head injuries and concussions — and how some players after a big game might have appeared dazed with the questions they asked, but no one would alert administration because the player’s absence might affect the next game’s outcome.
The name of the book, 12, comes from the team’s incredible inspiration — Jim Mulhearn. Mulhearn, a close friend of Coach Trifone’s, was a big fan and supporter of Blue Wave football. The 12th man as per football tradition, given the 11 players officially on the field, is a name for the fans and honors the impact their support has on the team’s performance.
He lost his battle with ALS in August of 2015. The team dedicated the 2015 season to Jim’s memory and honored him at the homecoming game Oct. 10, 2015.
With the loss of Mulhearn, Barthold said he and his team found a new, and passionate reason to win their games — in Mulhearn’s memory.
Among those interviewed for the book were former teammates Timmy Graham, the quarterback, and Mark Evanchick, defensive end, as well as Coach Trifone. In 2015 Darien beat archrival New Canaan, 28-21 in the Turkey Bowl. The team went on to win the state LL title over Shelton in December.
Barthold said he hopes his book impacts readers — “relive the rise” of Darien Football’s 2015 f0otball team— and makes them both laugh, and cry. It will be available only on Amazon beginning Friday, Aug. 3. Watch the trailer below.