The names change, but the goal at the start of every season remains the same for the New Canaan football team: win a state championship.
Matt Milano threw three touchdown passes Thursday -- all to fellow senior Connor Kilbane - as the Rams began their quest for a fifth title in six years with a 49-6 victory over Bassick at chilly and rainy Kennedy Stadium in Bridgeport.
"For our senior class, we want to be able to have something special, go far in the playoffs and hopefully win a state championship," said Milano, who is coming off a season in which he threw a state-record 42 TD passes.
The Rams were especially eager to get this season started based on the way last year ended - a 50-20 loss to Masuk in the CIAC Class L finals that ended their four-year state title reign.
Kilbane said the team put a piece of paper over the score of the Masuk game that had been posted in the weight room.
"It doesn't say anything now," he said. "It's just a blank piece of trophy, so the determination to get there is incredible. We want it and we're going to go after it."
As friends since the fourth grade, Milano and Kilbane have developed a special bond, and that chemistry was on display Thursday.
The pair hooked up for a 14-yard TD on New Canaan's first possession, then combined for scoring plays of six and eight yards in the third quarter.
Milano finished 18-of-30 for 173 yards while Kilbane, who figures to replace Kevin Macari (now at Georgetown) as the Rams' top receiver, had 10 catches for 106 yards.
"The fact that Masuk embarrassed us last year, enough said," Kilbane said. "We want to restore our tradition and our name. Losing by that much is unheard of in our minds."
Thursday's effort might not have been perfect and New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli, who is beginning his 31st season, said the Rams showed some rust.
Still, New Canaan got off to a fast start, needing just 78 seconds to take the lead. The Rams were efficient at the start of each half, scoring two touchdowns in the first and third quarters.
After Robert Distler bulled in from the 2-yard line to make it 14-0, Jake Miller returned an interception 25 yards for the Rams' next score.
Collin Shapiro booted a 30-yard field goal and the Rams scored two safety on special teams mishaps by Bassick for a 28-0 halftime lead.
After Milano's two TD strikes in the third quarter, the Rams' final score came on Nick Cascione's 32-yard TD scamper with 1:42 remaining in the contest.
"We were fortunate to jump out ahead of them early," Marinelli said. "Had we not jumped ahead early, it could have been a whole different game."
Like every school in the region, the Rams missed some practice time in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
"Not only were we anxious to get going, but with the hurricane, you couldn't play, and then we had some scrimmages in the pouring rain because it was the only time we could do it, so it's been a little disjointed," Marinelli added. "But I think the kids were really anxious to get back and let's see what we can do again."
The Lions were playing their first game under new coach Derrick Lewis, who could not have picked a much tougher opponent against whom to make his debut.
Bassick did have one highlight. After the Lions fell behind 42-0, Reggie Chavis hooked up with Marlo Macklin for a 77-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter.
The Rams finished with a 370-112 edge in total offense, although the Lions were held to just 24 yards in the first half. They had a little more success operating against New Canaan's reserves after Marinelli pulled his starters.
New Canaan also recorded seven sacks and forced three turnovers but despite the lopsided margin of victory, Milano feels there is plenty of room for improvement.
"Not bad," he said. "It's a start, it's the first game, pretty sloppy, I thought, Most of our offensive coaches thought so as."