NEW CANAAN -- What a difference a year has made for the Stamford High School football team.
It was just 12 months ago that the Black Knights pulled off one of the major upsets of the FCIAC season, a seven-point win over New Canaan that propelled them to a great finish that carried over to a 2-0 start this fall.
Twelve months -- even the last six weeks -- now seem like 12 years. The Black Knights have been in a free fall even since, one that continued Friday night with a 35-0 loss in a rematch with the Rams, their sixth in a row.
In stark contrast to Stamford's troubles, brought on by a combination of injuries -- four of its five starting offensive linemen were forced to leave the game -- and a pronounced loss in confidence, the Rams maintained course for what now seems like an annual trek to the state playoffs.
It wasn't always pretty: New Canaan's offense in the first half was noticeably rusty after a 13-day layoff due to Hurricane Sandy.
But the defense finished with six turnovers and set the tone when, after Stamford drove to the 1-yard line on its opening possession, the Rams came up with four straight stops.
"Had they scored right there it could have been a different game," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. "Defensively we are getting better. It really helped us tonight. It set up all of our touchdowns."
"I over-pursued a little bit and stuck my hand back in for an arm tackle," said Harris, who completed a nice bookend when he scored the game's final touchdown on a 2-yard run. "The ball fell right in my lap."
Stamford fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, and six plays later Louis Hagopian scored on a 1-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
Three plays after that, Brown, who split time with Tyler Kane as Stamford coach Bryan Hocter looked to shake up the offense, was intercepted by Zach Allen, who returned the ball to the Black Knights' 41-yard line. That set up the prettiest touchdown of the night, Nick Cascione's 28-yard pass to Austin Read in the far corner of the end zone.
"Injuries are just killing us," Hocter said. "Guys were banged up tonight and we lost a few more kids and had to play a lot of sophomores. I don't think the defense was horrible. Offensively, we just can't score. We're really struggling right now."
Harris said there was a reasonable explanation why the Rams took longer to gain traction with the ball.
"It's a little bit easier on defense to come out and play after a long time off," he said.
Though many of the New Canaan starters from last year's game have graduated, Harris said that retribution was a theme for the team this week.
"We really wanted to get this one," he said. "A little bit of payback. It was more for the coaches. They wanted it a lot and we wanted it for them."
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NEW CANAAN 35, STAMFORD 0
STAMFORD 0 0 0 0--0
NEW CANAAN 0 21 7 7--35
NC--Cole Harris, 35 fumble return (kick failed)
NC--Louis Hagopian, 1 run (Nick Cascione pass to Michael Root)
NC--Andrew Read, 28 pass from Cascione (Neal Koller kick)
NC--Christian Miranda, 10 TD pass from Teddy Bossidy (Koller kick)
NC--Harris, 2 run (Zach Bruno kick)
Records: Stamford 2-6; New Canaan 7-1