NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan High’s football team journeyed inside Hand High's 20-yard line three times in the first half of Saturday’s Class L championship game at Rentschler Field. The Rams came away with just three points, and the squandered chances proved costly as the Tigers rolled to a 34-10 victory.
“When you get in the red zone and don’t score, you can’t get that back,’’ New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “You don’t know when you’re going to get back there.”
Nicolas Vitale scored two touchdowns for Hand (13-0), which won its first state title since 2005. Henry Foye threw two touchdown passes, and Kevin Frey rushed for 211 yards and a score. Duke Repko scored New Canaan’s touchdown, and Collin Shapiro kicked a 26-yard field goal. The Rams finish 11-2.
“All you ever hear about is Xavier, Xavier, Xavier,’’ Marinelli said, talking about the state’s top-ranked team, which beat Staples on Saturday night in the Class LL championship game. “But Hand is a great team. They’re big, strong and fast. They kicked our butts tonight.”
Frey raced 70 yards for a touchdown on Hand’s first play from scrimmage with 1:07 gone in the first quarter. With 7 minutes to play in the first, Hand went up 14-0 on Foye’s 12-yard pass to Kyle Anderson.
New Canaan tried to answer on its next drive but stalled at the Hand 11 when Kevin McDonough was stopped on fourth-and-1. The Rams were also stopped deep in Hand territory with 5:38 left in the first half when a pass from Matt Milano to Connor Kilbane came up a yard short at the Hand 4.
Shapiro’s field goal with 1:36 left in the first half made it 14-3. Hand got one more touchdown before the half, moving 64 yards in seven plays. Foye’s 11-yard pass to Vitale put Hand up 20-3. Vitale’s 28-yard run early in the third quarter made it 27-3.
Repko’s 30-yard touchdown pass from Milano with 2:30 left in the third brought New Canaan closer. Hand responded with the game-clincher, a 1-yard run by Matthew Walsh with 7:29 left in the game.
“I really thought before the last touchdown that we had a chance,’’ Marinelli said. “But when you’re playing against a good football team, you can’t fumble and you can’t make mistakes.”
Milano finished 38-of-63 for 357 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for New Canaan. The Rams managed just 16 yards rushing, led by Robbie Distler’s 22 yards on seven carries. Dylan Leeming finished with 11 tackles for the Rams.