DARIEN, Conn. – Darien High’s football team treated its Thanksgiving rivalry game against New Canaan as if it were a playoff game. Then the Blue Wave went out and played like it, rebounding from an early 14-0 deficit to stun the playoff-bound Rams, 36-23.
“We kind of knew we weren’t going to make states going into it,’’ said quarterback Henry Baldwin, who led the victory by throwing four touchdown passes. “We worked hard all week, and we came out here and executed.”
New Canaan (8-2) carried an 11-game unbeaten streak against the Blue Wave (7-3). That streak included one win in a state playoff game and a tie. But Darien, which was hurt by injuries early in the season, put together its best effort of the season to beat the Rams for the first time since 2001.
“We had a lot of expectations coming into the season, a lot of seniors returning, and we were 4-3 at one point,’’ coach Rob Trfione said. “We came roaring back, and then we win this one today. The players and I believe that’s a wildly successful season.”
Baldwin was the architect, completing 15-of-29 passes for 234 yards. He threw three touchdown passes to Nick Lombardo.
“Down 14-0, I was not panicking,’’ Trifone said. “I’m sure some people thought, ‘Here we go again.” I was poised. I knew we had a great game plan. We made some adjustments in the first quarter, and the rest was history.”
Baldwin hit Lombardo on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 11:37 left in the second quarter to start Darien’s rally. Darien took the lead for good when Myles Ridder intercepted a pitch by the New Canaan quarterback and raced 30 yards with the fumble into the end zone. The conversion gave Darien a 15-14 lead, and the Blue Wave never looked back.
Baldwin’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Whiting made it 22-14 at halftime. Baldwin hit a flying Lombardo on a crossing pattern on the first drive of the second half, and the fleet halfback raced 30 yards into the end zone. Baldwin and Lombardo hooked up on a 31-yard touchdown pass for Darien’s final touchdown. New Canaan never threatened Darien's lead in the second half.
“I definitely think this is the way we were capable of playing all season,’’ Baldwin said. “We’re peaking at the right time. It’s unfortunate that we’re not going on. I can’t remember the last time Darien won its last high school game. This is great for us.”