With No Stadium Lights, Darien Football Hits The Road For Playoff Opener

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Darien quarterback Silas Wyper throws to a receiver during the Blue Wave's win over New Canaan on Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Darien Athletic Foundation

DARIEN, Conn. – Darien High School’s football team earned the No. 1 seed for the Class L playoffs, which begin Tuesday night. But because the team does not have lights on its home field, Darien is forced to open the tournament on the road. 

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Darien meets Daniel Hand of Madison on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Brien McMahon High School. Darien (10-1) earned the top seed by beating New Canaan on Thanksgiving Day. Hand brings an 8-3 record into the tournament. The winner advances to Saturday’s semifinals.

The tournament also brings up, again, the longstanding issue of lights at the football field at Darien High School. Supporters have advocated for lights at the field for years, but the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission has not approved them. The lingering battle cost Darien the opportunity to play its first state tournament game at home.

“Of the four FCIAC teams that have qualified for states, we are the only one that cannot play at home,’’ football coach Rob Trifone said in a message on the Blue Wave Football Facebook page Sunday. “This situation not only deprives our players and fans of a tremendous community experience but also affects many other community organizations that would benefit as well as other sports that use the stadium field including field hockey and lacrosse. It’s my hope that this helps demonstrate the need for lights and how much we could all benefit from their installation.”

The light debate overshadows a seven-game winning streak by the Blue Wave, including the 28-24 Turkey Bowl win over previously top-ranked New Canaan on Thanksgiving. The game came down to the last play when Darien stopped New Canaan deep inside Darien territory.

Darien rebounded after its only loss on Oct. 5 at St. Joseph, which earned the No. 2 seed in the Class M tournament.

Darien has been led by the sensational play of quarterback Silas Wyper, with 18 touchdowns and 2,474 yards passing. Receivers Griffin Ross (69 receptions, six touchdowns) and Nick Lombardo (37 receptions, 10 touchdowns) give Wyper a pair of dangerous targets.

Senior Andrew Nault had 13 tackles in the win over New Canaan, and sophomore lineman Mark Evanchick (12 sacks on the season) has emerged as one of the best players in the league.

Hand lost to New Canaan, 50-21, in the first game of the season. Its other losses were to Xavier and West Haven. But Hand has won two straight Class L championships.

Darien’s last state championship came in 1996. The Blue Wave fell to New Canaan in the 2008 championship game. In its most recent playoff appearance, Darien lost to Masuk in the semifinals of the state tournament in 2010.

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Comments (4)

MLB4110:

I'm an alumni Blue Wave football player. Whenever we played at schools with lights, it was a very different experience than playing on Saturday mornings. Its something every kid wants to experience. The lights would bring more fans out to the game. It would also help with scheduling home games for all sports during the fall and spring who use the field. There should be some restrictions with the lights like how long they can be on and what not. This has nothing to do with money but with residents who so not want the lights.

just_looking:

Darien continues to be a town that reacts instead of plans. The cent string of multimillion dollar projects illustrate that. They do not do what is right they react to the current issue de jour with the simplest solution, which means the least push back from residents and their lawyers. We no public pool, poorly designed parks and a high school with no pool and no stadium lights.
Admit it.

gatorx:

While the Darien Blue Wave certainly deserves credit for being the #1 seed, this hardly serves as reason to put in lights. In fact, I believe it serves as absolute proof that Darien is fully capable of producing championship teams WITHOUT the utter intrusion of lights.

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