Darien football shuts out Staples 24-0 in battle of unbeatens
The Darien football team led the Staples Wreckers 3-0 at halftime — an extremely thin margin by relative standards for the Blue Wave. As it turns out, three points is all Darien’s remarkable defense may have needed.
The Wave defense delivered its second shutout of the season, and the offense scored three touchdowns in the second half as the Darien won a battle of unbeaten teams, 24-0, over Staples Saturday at DHS.
The Wreckers were quite a challenge and kept it scoreless for most of the first half, but Will Kirby’s 34-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining in the second quarter put the Wave ahead and they never relinquished the lead.
“Whenever we have points on the board, we think of it as a win,” senior co-captain Connor Fay said. “We trust in our ability to shut out. Obviously, that’s not going to happen every game, but we trust our offense enough to be able to put up points, and we trust our defense enough to give up less. It’s really that simple.”
Darien improved to a perfect 5-0 and is one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the FCIAC as Greenwich is 4-0. Staples suffered its first loss and is now 4-1.
To Darien head coach Rob Trifone, the Wreckers are the real deal and even he was impressed by how well the defense handled them.
“If you were to ask me if I thought we were going to shut them out, I would have thought you were crazy,” Trifone said.”After watching them over four games, they have so many weapons. Quarterback (Jake) Thaw, every time he touches the ball, he’s an issue.
“We had a couple of defensive change-ups and they had a couple of offensive change-ups and they forced me to grab the whiteboard and start drawing up. That’s what a good football game is all about.”
The first half was a defensive struggle, as each team turned the ball over and failed to take advantage of opportunities.
The only points of the half came off the foot of Kirby, who’s 34-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright and dropped back through the goal posts for three points.
At halftime, the tight score didn’t faze the Wave.
“They’re very resilient and they’ve been here before,” Trifone said. “They’re very poised and our halftime was as quiet as could be, in a good way. There was a quiet confidence about them.”
“We came out and we were up by three going into the second half, but in the locker room, we didn’t get shaken,” Fay said. “We just knew we had to come with a better second half. Nothing rattles us.”
Darien found its scoring touch after halftime, reaching the end zone twice in the third quarter.
On their first drive of the second half, Darien marched down the field and scored when quarterback Cooper Hancock tossed a 14-yard TD pass to TJ Cornacchia in the back corner with 8:11 on the clock.
Kirby then capped a 60-yard drive by drilling a one-yard run through the Staples’ line, making it a 17-0 lead with 1:41 remaining in the third.
That lead seemed insurmountable for Staples, as the Darien defense continued to shut things down the Staples’ offense. Linebackers Fay, Sam Wilson and John Henry Slonieski led the way, and the secondary, which featured Bruce Ferguson (interception), Blake Cellar, Tyler Herget, and Jackson Peters, was outstanding.
Getting the shutout was a big plus for the defense.
“That’s huge. (Coach Mike) Forget loves that and we love to see it,” Fay said. “It creates a whole different energy for the game because it eases things up on our offense. They’re not chasing from behind; they’re able to calm down, do their thing and put up 24, which is obviously getting it done.”
Darien scored its final points when Will Rolapp scored on a 4-yard TD run with 3:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Even as the Wave was winning by four scores, Fay had high praise for the Wreckers.
“Hats off to them,” he said. “They came in and they thought they could come beat us, and they certainly had that chance to. That’s a very good team; they’re sizable and certainly bigger than us, but we were able to play our game.”
Darien 24, Staples 0
Saturday, Oct. 6, at Darien HS
Staples 0-0-0-0 0
Darien 0-3-14-7 24
D - Will Kirby, 34-yard field goal, 2:07
D - TJ Cornacchia, 14-yard pass from Cooper Hancock (Kirby PAT), 8:11
D - Kirby, 1-yard run (Kirby PAT), 1:41
D - Will Rolapp, 4-yard run (Kirby PAT), 3:22