Football: Darien lacks supertars, but still has plenty of talent
With several ongoing position battles, the live game action against the Senators -- the second of two scrimmages -- was one of the last opportunities for players to make a big impression on the coaching staff.
"Today is probably the best test. This is the final exam before we open up," Trifone said. "We've got some battles going on on both sides of the line, secondary, linebackers. Running backs will be Lombardo, Jay Harrison, John Reed. Those are pretty solidified."
The scrimmage against McMahon on Thursday as well as one against Branford on last Saturday served as a bridge for the Blue Wave to get ready for their season. As Darien quarterback Silas Wyper put it, it's nice to hit someone who isn't a teammate.
"We come out to practice intense every day, but it's nice to be able to hit someone other than your own color," Wyper said. "Last week we played an up-and-coming team in Branford. Today we have a challenge in McMahon. They're a fast, athletic team."
One of the main attractions in the 2013 Connecticut football is the FCIAC-SCC challenege, during which the two conferences will square off against each other.
The Blue Wave play host to defending Class M champion Hillhouse in Week 1, a game slated for 4 p.m. next Thursday at Darien High School.
It's a tall order to start the season, particularly when confronted with the enormous task of trying to stop Harold Cooper, the state's 11th-leading rusher with 1,640 yards last season.
"First and foremost, I think it's a great concept. I think the marriage of the two leagues and taking the top teams based on records and matching them up with that league based on records is the way to go," Trifone said. "You get punished a little bit for having success the last five years by playing a team like Hillhouse, but New Canaan, Staples and Greenwich are all in the same boat. Needless to say, Hillhouse is an unbelievable team."
By its own admittance, the Darien lacks a bona fide "superstar" on its offense, but Wyper believes that could actually be to his unit's advantage, as opposing defenses may have a difficult time figuring out which player deserves the most attention.
"No stars or anything like that but we all work well together. In our scrimmage against Branford, we had five guys catch a ball which is great because the defense can't key on one person," Wyper said. "To go along with the fact that we have no superstars, we have no egos either. So there's no one making stupid penalties or hogging all the attention."
Wyper himself is new to the starting lineup, replacing the departed Henry Baldwin after attempting only three passes last year. According to teammate Nick Lombardo, however, the transition has been about as seamless as can be.
"Getting the game feel with a scrimmage gets the adrenaline pumping, so it's a good test," Lombardo said. "We have a balanced offense this year. Silas brings a new dimension because he's able to run a little more than Henry was last year, but our passing game has always been good. Silas can make every throw and he can run too."
Lombardo, Darien's leading receiver last season (25-685-11), figures to have a prominent role on the offense. The speedster scored on a four-yard touchdown plunge against McMahon in Wednesday's scrimmage, but he's ready for the games that count.
"We've been thinking about Hillhouse since winter since it's the first game," Lombardo said. "Everyone's been in the weight room every day and conditioning a lot. We're in great shape and we're looking forward to Week 1."
The defense also sees considerable overturn, and while he indicated that several players had a chance to stake a claim to a starting spot in the scrimmage, Trifone is excited about the prospects of Mark Evanchick and George Reed, his starting defensive ends.
"They're both very athletic, aggressive, fast," Trifone said. "They're not the biggest kids in the world, but athleticism pays off."
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