#TrainingCampTour Day IV: Darien

The Blue Wave have the right guys to pick up the pieces from a devastating 21-20 New Canaan state championship victory.

Darien Motivated By The Ultimate Defeat

“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s going to hang with me for awhile. Just seeing them celebrate on the field…that stings a lot. -Mark Evanchick, Darien Defensive End.

A reporter rarely has the opportunity to speak with a young athlete that possesses such a gift to answer a question with powerful words in a succinct manner of speaking. Mark Evanchick will give you what you need off of the gridiron and leave you speechless with his performance on the field.

The 6-foot, 228-pound senior has collected five forced fumbles, 201 total tackles, and 43 sacks in a terrific career at Darien High. I can assure you that he does not want to finish his career with the Blue Wave without nabbing one ring.

Evanchick’s (center) 2014 season was his best yet: 80 tackles and 25 sacks! What does he have in store for 2015?

I floated this question to Mark and his coach Rob Trifone: “Have we seen the best that Mark Evanchick has to offer?”

“I think this year’s determinant is that usually seniors perform at their best in their last year. Hopefully, that is the case.” This a simple answer posed in a profound way by Evanchick.

“Hard to tell. Mark has about 20 different speeds. Depends on how P.O.’d he is on any given day.” This is a sincere answer from an authentic man, Rob Trifone, who has come so close in the past few years to bringing a state title to Darien for the first time since 1996. Trifone followed up that answer by recounting Evanchick’s four-sack, first half performance in 2014 state title game against a New Canaan linemen who supposedly had shut him down in the Turkey Bowl two weeks prior.

But what happened in the second half to Darien?

“Obviously, you do pay attention to it, but it is part of life,” said Trifone when looking back on the harrowing loss. “In that FCIAC championship, {a game Darien trailed 21-0 in the 2nd quarter} you go back, that’s a game that New Canaan should have beat us and we were able to beat them {28-21 in overtime}. Vice versa. The tables are turned in the state championship, we should have beat them because we were out playing them at times, but they were able to come back to win that game.”

“It was a bitter taste in our mouths,” added defensive back/wide receiver Colin Minicus. “We all wanted that game, especially for our seniors. We just watched it fall out of our hands. Most of the returning juniors know what feeling feels like. Nobody likes that feeling. We are all fighting hard to redeem ourselves.”

Minicus (pictured right) has a state championship ring in boys lacrosse. Can he use that experience to empower his teammates this season?

Minicus watched as great two-way players like George Reed, Will Hamernick, Jack Tyrell, Jack Griffiths, Peter Archey, and Griffin Ross moved on from Darien without an elusive CIAC crown. He’s also watched the 1996 team, that last Darien team to taste state championship success.

“{They were} great leaders, great teammates to each other and I think that’s what we are trying to focus on this year is to bring every one up to the stage and get as many bodies out there as we can,” said Minicus.

This may be the last best chance for the Blue Wave for a while, with all of the turnover from these amazing early 2010’s Darien teams. This current senior group holds a special place in Rob Trifone’s heart.

“This particular group is a group that has been with me since 3rd grade because my twin sons {Christian and Bobby} are seniors as well,” noted Trifone. “And so we’ve been through the ranks. In the youth leagues, they were able to win a championship and they have always said that they wanted to win a state championship in high school, so that’s the carrot before them this year.”

Timmy Graham is a rather large part of that group. He completed 206 passes for 2,525 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. Big-time security blankets such as Reed (OL), Hamernick (OL), Tyrell (OL),  Griffiths (OL), Archey (RB), and Ross (WR) are gone, but his leading receiver in terms of yardage (645) is back for more and that is Colin Minicus.

Expect Shelby Grant to join the Trifone brothers as new sensations with more playing time in a fast-paced Darien endeavor in 2015. Grant is likely to be the quickest member of his team, but with what I saw today, it may not matter. The Blue Wave spent half of the session sprinting at least 30 yards up field and back. It was timed…very carefully. I believe the best time 00:18:38. It showed me that Darien, led by Trifone’s band of third grade buddies, will do whatever it takes to win the big one this season.

Follow the #TrainingCampTour as it happens on Twitter. Please check in to cptvsports.org nightly for other team training camp recaps. For more on the Darien football team, tune in to the 2015 High School Football Training Camp special on September 4, 2015. Watch Friday Night LIVE Football on CPTV Sports beginning September 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Follow @FrankieGrazie6 on Twitter to keep with me on my #TrainingCampTour