New Canaan 6th Grade Red Football Tops Ridgefield


The old adage “the best offense is a good defense” rang true Saturday night as the New Canaan 6th Grade Red football team blanked the Ridgefield 6th Grade Black 6-0 on the road at Tiger Hollow.

New Canaan took advantage of two turnovers and held the Tigers to 43 yards of total offense en route to the opening night win. Meanwhile Big Red’s offense dominated the time of possession with long, sustained drives that kept Ridgefield’s offense off the field or deep in its own territory during the rare instances in which they had the ball.

“Ridgefield was a tough team,” New Canaan head coach Nick Cascione told “The boys responded well and they played a complete game.”

Trey “Spiderman” Hartnett was a two-way star for New Canaan, hauling in three receptions for 40 yards, including one for the game’s only touchdown. Hartnett also had a highlight-reel interception and two tackles to lead New Canaan (1-0) to the win.

“It’s good that we got our first win of the season out of the way,” Hartnett said. “We played great, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

It’s tough to see where New Canaan can improve, as Big Red dominated Ridgefield (0-1) in every facet of the game. The solid running of Mack “The Knife” Seelert (9 carries, 54 yards), “Shiftin’”Griffin Gentner (8 carries, 40 yards), QB Giovanni Cascione (9 carries, 31 yards; 5-7, 49 yards, TD passing) and Brendan “Don’t Call Me Tom” Hagan (2 carries, 22 yards) helped Big Red out-rush the Tigers 147-44.

The ground success came despite the imposing presence of Ridgefield’s defensive lineman Joel Strand, indisputably the most-feared defensive player in the league. That said, New Canaan’s offensive line was more than up to the task as Cooper Dinan and Charlie Harrison constantly stymied and ultimately exhausted the Tigers’ star with expert double-team blocks, mitigating the 6-foot Strand’s impact. Fellow linemen Teddy Rosen, Reese Hanrattie and Alex Capelo provided ample protection for Cascione, who was able to mix in an efficient, effective passing game to Hartnett, Hagan (1 reception, 5 yards) and Seelert (1 reception, 4 yards) to complement the ground assault.

After winning the coin toss, New Canaan elected to start on offense and proceeded to drive straight down the field. A remarkable 19-yard Cascione-to-Hartnett hookup in triple coverage on third-and-7 helped New Canaan extend the drive, a mantra that echoed throughout Tiger Hollow the entire game.

Behind the blocks of Flynn “Mister” Coffey and Zach “I Am The” Manna, Big Red drove to the Ridgefield 6-yard line, where Cascione floated a perfect pass to Hagan in the front corner of the end zone for an apparent touchdown. A phantom holding call negated the score, however, and New Canaan subsequently turned the ball over on downs as time ran out in the first quarter.

New Canaan’s offense didn’t have long to rest, as a fumble on Ridgefield’s first play from scrimmage was recovered by George Stewart at the Tigers 30-yard line. Three plays later, Cascione hit Hartnett on a 14-yard TD strike for a 6-0 New Canaan lead with 6:15 to play in the first half.

Big Red’s defense flexed its muscles again on the ensuing Ridgefield possession as tackles by Sean Watchmaker, Caden Bowling and Ryan “Dash” Calyanis set up a fourth-and-11 at the Ridgefield 29. Hartnett made a leaping pick of a pass over the middle at the 45 and returned it to Tigers 18-yard line, giving New Canaan possession with 4:12 left in the half, and allowing Big Red to take the lead into the intermission.

The second half was much of the same story as the first as New Canaan’s defense—led by Tommy “Whatever He Wants He” Goetz, Gustav Neubohn and Bennett “Canuck” Corley—held Ridgefield in check. The Tiger passing game was non-existent, netting negative-1 yards due to tight coverage from Declan Ratner and Jake “The Snake” Ellis and—despite being without D-lineman Ned Ravanesi for the game—front line pressure from Dom “The Dominator” Rasso and Gunnar Watson as the Tigers were forced to punt with 4:15 left in the third quarter.

Meanwhile New Canaan was content—and able—to burn valuable time off the clock, as the “Thunder & Lightning” tandem of Seelert and Gentner ate up significant yardage with big blocks from wideouts Charlie Chisholm and Richie Whitcomb. Unsung hero Harrison’s flawless snaps from center allowed Big Red to continue their momentum, and although a 13-play, 54-yard drive failed to produce any points after stalling at the Ridgefield 16, it served its purpose. By the time Ridgefield got the ball back, there was less than six minutes left to play and 84 yards to go—numbers which added up to an inevitable New Canaan win after the Tigers turned the ball over on downs just five plays later.

“Everybody contributed,” Cascione said. “The O-line was tight, defense was solid…when you put up a goose egg, it’s always a beautiful thing.”

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*NC – Hartnett 14-yd. pass from Cascione (kick failed)

Key stats:

*Giovanni Cascione: 5-7, 49 yds. passing, 9-31 rushing; 3 tackles
*Trey Hartnett: 3-40 receiving, TD; INT, 2 tackles
*Mack Seelert: 9-53 rushing, 1-4 receiving; 3 tackles
*Griffin Gentner: 8-30 rushing; 2 tackles
*Brendan Hagan: 2-22 rushing, 1-5 receiving; 2 tackles
*George Stewart: 2 tackles, fumble recovery
*Total Offense: NC - 196, R - 43
*Turnovers: NC - 0, R - 2

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