Groff, New Canaan rally to beat Maloney for Class L championship

NEW BRITAIN -- Lou Marinelli was soaking wet from a Gatorade bath with the temperature in the upper 30s and dropping fast.

It was a fantastic feeling for New Canaan’s longtime football coach.

“I’ll take a Gatorade bath like this anytime, any weather,” Marinelli said with a smile. “It was great.”

New Canaan capped a remarkable season by scoring the final 10 points, the last three on a 19-yard field goal from Ty Groff with 2:34 remaining, and defeating Maloney 16-13 in the CIAC Class L championship game Saturday at Arute Field.

It’s the first CIAC championship for New Canaan (12-1) since 2016, and the 13th overall, all under head coach Lou Marinelli. Marinelli, who has coached the Rams since 1981, won his first state title 40 years ago in 1982.

“It’s amazing,” said Marinelli, whose Rams came in ranked No. 4 in the GameTimeCT poll. “These kids are amazing. I’m glad we won, but I’m going to miss them. It’s such a good group. The way they kept coming back and coming back. This group of seniors, I’m going to miss the hell out of them. To be able to accomplish this is just unbelievable.”

For Groff, the senior kicker and quarterback, the winning field goal was a fitting ending for a record-setting career. He booted three field goals in the final, the longest from 41 yards, and broke the state record with 27 career field goals.  He had 15 this season, including seven in three playoff games.

The most emotional moment came with a simple snap, as he took a knee on the final play of the game.

“I started crying a little bit,” Groff said. “I got emotional because no one deserved this more than us. Maloney is a heck of a good team. Kudos to them, they’re a strong-willed team with heart. But I’ll take us against anybody and day of the year.”

It was a disappointing ending for third-ranked Maloney (11-2), which had won the program’s first state championship last year and was looking to add a second straight crown.

The Spartans displayed their patented electricity on a 95-yard kickoff return from Marquis Ward in the second quarter, and had a 13-6 lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hang on.

“Not many words right now,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said. “Obviously, we’re all disappointed. This is not what we wanted to have happen.

"The game was in our grasp, leading in the fourth quarter and we’ve been so dominant in the fourth quarter. It’s just a tough thing.”

New Canaan’s defense held the Spartans to just 147 total yards, and caged star running back Josh Boganski, who rushed 15 times for 38 yards. Quarterback Kyle Valentine passed for 119 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted by the Rams’ Griffin Gentner twice.

“Our defensive staff, led by (coordinator) Chris Silvestri, he spends hours and hours with the guys to come up with different schemes,” Marinelli said. “He’s unbelievable and that’s been our staple for the last couple of years.”

Groff booted two field goals in the second quarter to stake New Canaan to a 6-0 lead, but Ward's 95-yard kickoff return put Maloney ahead 7-6 at halftime. It was the Spartans’ seventh special teams touchdown this season.

“Marquis is electric,” Frederick said. “Our special teams have been great all year and they gave us that spark there.”

In the third quarter, Valentine hit Donte Kelly for a 24-yard score and a 13-6 lead

New Canaan answered when Hunter Telesco scored on one-yard run with 9:44 remaining. Telesco led the Rams’ offense with 30 rushes for 107 yards.

After a defensive stop, New Canaan moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, before Groff kicked his final field goal for the winning margin.

“It was amazing,” Groff said. “I would much rather punch one in for a touchdown, but if it came down to a field goal, I knew I’d be ready. To have one more is pretty amazing.”

Player of the Game

Ty Groff, New Canaan: It’s not often a kicker can be looked at as a possible player of the year, but Groff’s resume includes a state-record 27 career field goals, seven in the playoffs and now three in the championship game, including the game-winner.


“It’s an unbelievable experience to play for coach Marinelli and all the coaches on the New Canaan staff. All of them have so much dedication and it showed tonight.” – New Canaan senior Ty Groff; @dstewartsports

New Canaan 16, Maloney 13

NEW CANAAN   0  6   0  10 — 16
MALONEY          0  7   6   0 — 13
NC — Ty Groff 41 field goal
NC — Groff 24 field goal
M — Marquis Ward 95 kickoff return (Josh Scaramuzzo kick)
M — Donte Kelly 24 pass Kyle Valentine (pass failed)
NC — Hunter Telesco 1 run (Groff kick)
NC — Groff 19 field goal
Records: New Canaan 12-1, Maloney 11-2