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Saturday, March 24 Sports

Rams football tackles new issues in 2014

The reigning state football champions have found life on the throne to be a bit uncomfortable.

But it's by no fault of their own.

The Rams returned to practice this week for five days of conditioning before contact practices open Saturday in anticipation of their 2014 campaign set to begin Friday, September 12 at Hand.

Thus far, the Rams have learned they will be without starting running back and senior captain Frank Cognetta, who broke his foot this summer. Cognetta is projected to be sidelined for at least half of the season. In his stead, Cognetta twins Michael and Matthew will take carries.

"It's part of the game. Next man up," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. "I hope we get him back as soon as we can. It's part of the game. He's a hell of a kid. He's one of our captains."

Who now hands the ball off to the Cognettas is a different story. As told by Marinelli, the Rams are without a surefire starter at quarterback, and the team hopes projected first-stringer James Cravatto will be ready to play in time for the season opener. Otherwise, senior wide receiver Alex LaPolice will be forced to take snaps out of position.

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"We're trying to get James ... up to speed," Marinelli said. "If he can get up to speed, we won't have to use Alex, and we'll have speed on the outside."

LaPolice split snaps with junior Mike Collins during the Grip It and Rip It 7-on-7 passing tournament at New Canaan High School over one month ago. Whoever steps in under center will be replacing graduated senior Nick Cascione, who guided New Canaan to a 12-1 record through a rugged schedule last season.

This year's slate will be just as difficult, according to Marinelli.

"It's as tough as it was last year. The only difference is we graduated 28 seniors that played last year that we're going to have to fill in for," Marinelli said.

Looking at the rest of the FCIAC, Marinelli believes rival Darien is a slight conference favorite, closely followed by Staples and Greenwich.