Piniati and Marens contribute to Raiders football, despite season ending injuries.
TORRINGTON: As we put a ribbon on the fall football season, one of the most memorable in decades here in Torrington, it would be a mistake not to talk about two Raider gridiron warriors who were critical parts of the team but due to injuries, were unable to finish their years on the field they so loved.
Tyler Marens and Nick Piniati were two key players coming into the 2015 campaign, which from the outset was thought to have the potential to be a memorable one.
Both would find their roles change drastically because of those injuries that would have both on the sidelines when their senior years on the football field came to an end.
Piniati, a linebacker for head coach Gaitan Rodriguez the past three years, was lost during a scrimmage against Sheehan during the preseason on a play that didn’t look bad at first but resulted in a neck injury that would cost him the entire season.
I for one, applaud the job that all involved with the decision made when they decided not risk a permanent injury by having the senior standout come back to play, no matter how hard it was on the young man.
Too often we see either parents or coaches lean towards seeing that player just one more time on the field of battle, only to come away with disastrous, life altering results.
His coach understood what his player went through, missing his senior year and applauded how he dealt with the disappointment, on and off the field.
“Nick handled it just about as well as he could,” Rodriguez said, “I know it was rough but he kept his head up and supported his teammates. For me it was like having another coach on the sidelines and at practice.”
Piniati was part of the original four players who started playing football together all through their middle school days as part of the Pop Warner program. Marens, Connor Finn and Nate Bresson were the other three teammates who came up through the ranks.
In the case of Marens, who was the Raiders offensive weapon at the running back position during his sophomore and junior years, his loss was felt more on the defensive side of the ball where he was one of Torrington’s best pursuit options.
Marens was often left on his own to react to what he saw, regardless of the call because his speed and toughness allowed him to seal the outside on sweeps, something that hurt the Raiders late in the year after he went down with an elbow injury making a tackle in a game against Wolcott.
“Tyler was such a tough player,” Rodriguez said, “Pound for pound, he was the strongest player on the team.”
What astounded you when you watched Marens was how often he would make something out of nothing by refusing to go down at the initial point of contact.
How often did Raider fans witness Marens go into a pile, disappear only to reappear at the second level of the defense on his way to another long touchdown run.
In his senior year, the Raiders featured fellow upperclassmen Newton Frias more often, making it even more difficult to stop Marens, especially during their “Monster” formation.
After the injury, Marens kept himself involved during practice and during games could still be seen using his speed, this time going after point after attempts that needed to be returned.
Both of these young men were part of one of the most special season to grace Torrington in decades.
They were part of a group that went through the tough times, kept their head up and believed in Rodriguez and his coaches and will be celebrated for a long time to come.
Even though they missed either all or some of the 2015 campaign, Piniati and Marens will always has a place in the hearts of Raider fans.