‘They Just Refused to Lose’: Recalling New Canaan Football’s Historic Undefeated 2008 Season, 10 Years Later

The year 2008 was supposed to be about rebuilding for the New Canaan Rams football program: The team was ranked in the bottom half of the FCIAC’s preseason polls and only a handful of starters from the previous season were returning. They were not expected to accomplish anything special. Yet they ended up doing exactly that, with unforeseen contributions from a particularly tight-knit squad that would post an undefeated record heading into a dramatic showdown versus New Canaan’s longtime rival before moving on to states—cementing a legacy whose storybook season launched 10 years ago this month. Behind center

One of the squad’s returning starters, tri-captain Nate Quinn, switched from defense to quarterback for 2008, marking a dramatic turnaround for what New Canaan had been fielding in recent years at the all-important position. The Rams had won consecutive state titles in 2006 and 2007 with guys like Curt Casali and Charlie Westfal at QB.

High Marks for New Turf Fields at NCHS, Despite Delay in Lighting

Despite a yet-unresolved delay that’s cut down on practice hours, those making use of the newly laid turf fields in their inaugural spring at New Canaan High School are giving high marks for a facility that’s more weather-resistant, flexible and consistent with those of area towns. Though the lights at the new Water Tower turf fields are not yet powered due to recent storms, athletes, coaches and officials from the nonprofit organizations that run youth sports here say the fields—part of a an estimated $5.8 million project that also includes the new track at NCHS, a public-private partnership between the town and New Canaan Athletic Foundation—already are paying dividends. “The new turf is great because there is more space to play when it rains,” fourth-grade lacrosse and soccer player Emma Barnard said. “That’s a good thing.”

The track and fields project has been “a long time coming,” Recreation Director Steve Benko said. “When we’re finished, we’ll have a spectacular facility.

‘This Is Why We Play’: New Canaan Football Tops Windsor 35-20 for Fourth Straight Class L Championship

As darkness enveloped New Britain’s Veterans Memorial Stadium, Lou Marinelli stood alone at midfield, long after his New Canaan Rams defeated Windsor 35-20 for their fourth straight Class L championship. “I don’t want to leave,” Marinelli said. “We’re counting down the minutes on the sidelines and I’m saying, ‘Damn, I can’t wait until it’s over.’ But now I don’t want it to be over.”

For Marinelli, the time to reflect is well-deserved. The win marked the 12th state title in his 36 years as head coach of the Rams and his 331st career victory, tying former West Haven and St. Joseph coach Ed McCarthy for the most wins in state history.

New Canaan Football Tops Notre Dame-West Haven 20-17 in Class L Semifinals

In a season filled with ups and a few downs, praise and scrutiny, hype and over-analysis, it seems only fitting that Drew Pyne’s finest moment in his young New Canaan career came on the heels of what could have been his lowest. New Canaan’s poised freshman quarterback rebounded from an interception deep in Rams territory and—buoyed by a dramatic defensive goal line stand—engineered a 95-yard second half touchdown drive for a lead the No. 2 Rams (11-1) would not relinquish in a 20-17 Class L semifinal win over No. 6 Notre Dame-West Haven (8-4) Monday night at Dunning Field. “That was incredible,” New Canaan senior co-captain Ryan O’Connell said of Pyne’s performance.