Darien football wins Shoreline 7-on-7 championship

The Darien football team won the Shoreline football 7 vs. 7 tournament on Saturday, June 29. - Dan Nowak/Hearst Connecticut Media
The Darien football team won the Shoreline football 7 vs. 7 tournament on Saturday, June 29. — Dan Nowak/Hearst Connecticut Media

MADISON—There are no pads, no tackling and no linesmen in the Shoreline Football 7 vs. 7 Grip it and Rip It tournament.

While it isn’t real football, what is real is the fun that players and coaches said they had in the two-day event. Darien quarterback Peter Graham certainly had his share.

On Saturday, Graham had four touchdown passes to lead Darien to a 44-6 win over Notre Dame-West Haven in the championship game of the fourth annual double-elimination tournament at Hand. It was the second straight championship for the Blue Wave who came out of the winners bracket to secure the title.

“Everyone on our team loves this Grip it and Rip it tournament,” Graham said. “It’s a great way to start preparing for next season. It’s a lot of fun and it’s great for team building, bonding and uniting the team.

“It’s great way to start working on your rhythm. You get your receivers out there and you build reps. They only allow safeties and linebackers on defense and it’s a great way for them to get reps too. Our team gets to do it again in two weeks (July 12-13) when New Canaan hosts its Grip it and Rip it tournament.”

Mastroianni’s motivation

Eleven years ago, New Canaan hosted the first Football 7 vs. 7 Grip it and Rip it tournament. When Hand football coach Dave Mastroianni was exposed to the event, he liked it so much he decided to host his own version of the tournament.

“This event provides a great time to get your team together and have them compete with other teams from around the state,” Mastroianni said. “It’s a chance to evaluate what you have and also get them to compete with other teams. It’s competitive but it’s also fun.

“Each team has 15-20 players with quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, linebackers and secondary players. They play games and every player gets their reps and they are meaningful reps. For some teams it comes down to player availability with vacations and other commitments impacting their decision to come here. But this has become a popular event and slots fill up quick.”

There were 16 teams representing five leagues that competed. Leagues represented were the FCIAC, ECC, SWC, CCC and SCC.

ND-WH goes deep

Notre Dame-West Haven quarterback Jack Zilinsky had three towndown passes in a 28-6 win over Greenwich in the losers bracket final and he threw the lone touchdown in the loss to Darien in the final.

Notre Dame coach Joe DeCaprio was impressed with the event.

“We know it’s not real football, but it gives us the opportunity to compete,” DeCaprio said. “Dave (Mastroianni) does a great job organizing this event. He brings in great teams and it gets intense here with that level of competition. It gives all the coaches an opportunity to evaluate their kids.”