The Last Crusade,Maybe Not

By JOE RYAN
Norwalk-The speculation has been around for a while with people whispering it was only a matter of time until the proud tradition of Trinity Catholic football would come to an end.
It seems they received a chance last week from the Diocese of Bridgeport to keep the program alive as a Co-op after it was said a piece of paper finally did what no FCIAC team could ever really do competely and stop the Crusaders.
It is a sad time not just for the former players and members of the Trinity Catholic family but it is also a sad time for high school atheltics overall. It is hard to cling to the romantic notion of “bunch of underdogs” overcoming huge odds to post a memorable win.
The theme of a band of brothers being stronger together than the team across the field with the fancy uniforms and large roster numbers.
The men wearing the green and gold always kept the faith and strived to compete for the chance to make the dream a reality.
I was lucky enough to be an observer at a lot of those games.
It started with a sunny afternoon when Gene DeVito and Anas Koummall led Trinity to a win over Darien at the Blue Wave Stadium. Yes, the Crusaders were led by Bryan Fox and won a game which now would seem impossible but Trinity was stacked with players that year. Vinnie Cortese, Ryan Durkin, Eric Stevens and Tegge Steele were some of the other names.
They would lose in the waning moments against Joel Barlow at home and against Stamford to prevent them from having a classic season but they made a lasting imression on me as a reporter.
Fox handed off the reigns to Pete Stokes and he gave them to Donnie Panapada but the theme and effort never changed. They even made the state playoffs a couple of times as the number of players kept shrinking.
How could this under-sized and undermanned unit hope to compete with teams like New Canaan?
Then, there was the day when on a muddy Alumni Field, the green and gold stood toe to toe with the Rams and won on a last minute field goal.
There was that night in an icy rain and Boyle Stadium when Panapada led the team to it’s first post season win in many years.
John Madden used to tell his Oakland Raiders:
“Don’t worry if the horse is blind, just load up the wagon.”
I always toook it to mean to stop worrying about all the reasons we can’t accomplish this task and start working towards making it happen. Those words always rang in my mind as I watched a Trinity game.
We hope to interview athletic Director Frank Fedak next week to confirm all the information availabale but for now we can only hope.
There have been so many memories for me and even more for the town of Stamford.
Even if a pen ends up doing what no FCIAC team could ever do and stop the Crusaders, those images will never fade.

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