All of the practice equipment can now be stored for the year. All of the preparation is complete. By 5 p.m. today we will know how this story ends. It’s time for the players to give it their best on the field, and hopefully the game will be decided by that and not some freak bounce of the ball or miscue that spirals out of control.
These two teams met last year in the . In that game so many crazy things happened to Hand that from the stands we suspected that a bartender from Buffalo Wild Wings must have been on the phone to the groundskeeper at Ken Strong Stadium. There were three fumbles, two interceptions and a safety. And New Canaan capitalized on every bit of Hand’s misfortune to end the Tigers season, 39-21.
Then there was the 2007 Class MM Final played at Trumbull High School… That year Hand, led by gutsy sophomore quarterback Nick Merullo, put together a surprising 11 game win streak and found themselves with a 30-13 lead over New Canaan entering the fourth quarter. The Rams, led by quarterback Charlie Westfal, then scored 21 unanswered points to win the game 34-30.
New Canaan also won the first meeting of these two teams in the 1993 Class M Championship 35-14. That makes Hand’s all-time record against New Canaan 0-3.
The New Canaan Rams are making their sixth straight appearance in a Championship Final Game. They won four in a row until Masuk beat them last year 50-20. They lost one game in the 2011 regular season, losing to Stamford 36-29. That one loss kept them out of the FCIAC Championship Game and made their Thanksgiving match-up with Darien crucial to making the playoffs. They defeated Darien 42-21.
In the playoffs, New Canaan escaped with a 27-26 win over New London in the quarter-finals. New London scored with 1:45 left in the game and elected to try for two points and the win. New London running back Kyle McKinnon was stopped inches short to preserve the win for the Rams. Against Windsor, New Canaan was trailing 24-7 in the second quarter. They ended up coming back and kicking two field goals in the fourth quarter to win the game 27-24. The Rams have shown that they can never be counted out and they usually find a way to win.
New Canaan’s top players are quarterback Matt Milano (2,620 yards, 31 touchdowns); running back/linebacker Kevin McDonough and receiver Connor Kilbane.
Daniel Hand is coming into the game with a 12-0 record. They won their two playoff games convincingly. They are coming off a huge win over Masuk, the defending champ. Hand’s defense has been solid all year.
This should be a great game between two very similar teams. It will be interesting to watch the chess match between the two coaching staffs. Defensive fronts will have to be disguised as both staffs will probe for any advantage.
If Hand can play like they did last Saturday night, it’s likely that this story will end with an additional flag for the Surf Club. Let’s just hope that we get no calls from Buffalo Wild Wings.
Patch Player of the Week
After much deliberation, there is no way I can name one player as Player of the Week for the Masuk Game. That was such a great team effort, executed well on both sides of the ball.
Mostly clear, breezy, with high temperatures in the upper 30’s. Bundle up!