DARIEN, Conn. – Two teams from Darien shared the Fairfield County Football League eighth grade championship title for the second straight year.
Darien Blue, coached by Jay Hardison, finished 10-0 after defeating Ridgefield Orange, 12-8, in the semifinals. Darien White, coached by Rich Joyce, finished 10-1. It beat New Canaan Black, 20-7, in the semifinals. If two teams from the same town in the league advance to the final, the teams are declared co-champions.
Joyce’s team won the seventh-grade championship last year with an 11-0 mark. Hardison’s team went 9-1, falling to Fairfield in the semifinals. The combined two-year record for the teams is 40-2. Last year, two Darien teams shared the eighth grade title as well.
“We knew a few years ago if we could consolidate to two teams, that we had the size and speed to compete for a championship,’’ Hardison said. “That’s exactly how it played out."
Both teams had close calls along the way. Hardison’s Darien Blue team beat Westport in the quarterfinals, 16-14, by stopping a two-point conversion. In the semifinals, Ridgefield drove deep into Darien territory in the fourth quarter before stalling. Charlie Sealy’s 25-yard interception return opened the scoring.
“Defense ended up winning both games for us,’’ Hardison said. “It was nail-biting time.”
Darien White lost to Ridgefield, 8-6, in its regular-season finale. Joyce’s team entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and beat Norwalk, Fairfield and New Canaan to earn a share of the championship.
“I think what it says is that everyone has bought into (high school coach Rob) Trifone’s system,’’ Hardison said. “It has worked well for everybody. There are aspects of power, speed and deception, and all three work at the youth level.”
Darien Blue’s team is Connor Galante, Brian Peters, Carl Hunter, Charlie Sealy, Joshua Stevenson, Stefan Schneider, William Barker, Riley Stewart, Ryan Corcoran, Joe Hardison, Charlie Wright, Nick Hill, Kevin Fitzmaurice, Ben Wilson, Trevor Gilronan, Jake Bieler, Logan Buckner, Justin Plank and Kip Rand-Ricciardi.
Darien White’s team is Jacob Velasco-Navarro, Quinn Fay, Teddy Fuller, Dillon Jones, Timothy Herget, Finlay Collins, Jack Joyce, Kody Schutzman, Zak Swetye, Charlie Charistensen, G. Emmett Sheehan, Sean McKay, Brooks Daley, Peter Marren, Tanner Strub, Charlie Olsen, Andrew Tomasello, Cord Fox, James Johnson and Andrew Stueber.