New Fairfield football’s run to CIAC semifinals a family affair for Fatas

New Fairfield football head coach Anthony Fata has never been able to watch the game film from the 2015 Class M state championship game.

It was the Rebels second appearance in a state title game. New Fairfield lost to SWC rival Brookfield 21-14 in 2015, and to St. Joseph in the 1983 S-I game.

Fata and the fifth-seeded Rebels are just one win away from another crack at a state title with top-seeded Bloomfield looming as a host in the Class S semifinal round at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

A large piece of the puzzle in New Fairfield’s journey this season has been Fata’s son, Ryan.

Ryan Fata, a senior, scored two touchdowns to help New Fairfield defeated Holy Cross 41-7 in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. It was the Rebels first appearance and win in the playoffs since 2016.

A second-team All-SWC selection, Ryan Fata has scored eight touchdowns (five receiving, two rushing and one kickoff return) and has been the team’s top receiver.

This is not the first time Anthony Fata has coached one of his sons, but it is the first time one of his sons has gotten a chance to play in the postseason.

TJ, or Anthony Jr., was a freshman during New Fairfield’s 2015 run when it lost in the Class M final, and a sophomore when it made the Class S tournament a year later, but he never got to play for his father in the postseason games.

The next two years, TJ played for the varsity team as it narrowly missed the playoffs.

“It is a shame when TJ was a senior in 2018 that we didn’t get into the playoffs because we could have made some noise that year,” Anthony Fata said. “We fell a little bit short, finishing the season 6-4 and missing the cut.”

Though Ryan Fata has already gotten more playoff playing time than his brother, he also one less year of football.

“As soon as we knew there wouldn’t be a 2020 season, Ryan came up to me and said we needed weights for the house,” Anthony Fata said. “I got a bench and weights and he, to his credit, would lift religiously.”

Ryan Fata, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound slot/defensive back was not the only one of his fellow 24 seniors to take advantage of the weight room, which is a big reason for much of the team’s success, Anthony Fata said.

Ryan Fata and many of his teammates still remember those seasons, wondering how far they would go when it was their time.

“A lot of my teammates and friends had brothers who were on those 2015 and 2016 teams,” Ryan said. “We remember watching that championship game and those playoff games. We all pictured ourselves being there one day, and I hope that happens in a few weeks.”

Ryan Fata also remembers wondering how he and his father would interact on the field.

“I always saw my brother as a role model and I always thought it was cool to watch my dad coach my brother,” Ryan Fata said. “I was always curious what it was going to be like. Now that I am here, I don’t see him as a father once I step on that field, when we practice or play, I see him as a coach.”

When the pads are on, there is no preferential treatment. There is just the New Fairfield Rebels and its many components.

“The relationship we have on the field is like that of any other player,” Anthony Fata said. “TJ and Ryan were both captains and they are both great leaders. On the field I view them as senior captains doing everything that they could help the team, I never viewed them differently as my sons.”

In a large senior class of 24, most of which had no varsity experience, Ryan Fata was named a team captain, and has shown to be deserving of the title.

“Being named captain was a big honor,” Ryan Fata said, “Some people may have thought I was just being named captain because my dad is the coach, but I think I have proven myself. It has been an honor this season getting to lead my teammates and friends to a great season.”

Should Anthony Fata bring New Fairfield its first title in program history in his 11th season, having his son/captain on the field with him will certainly be one for the scrap book.

“It has been great for Ryan, to have the season that he is having, and the team is having,” Anthony Fata said. “It is special, and I know when the season is over, I will probably feel it a little bit more. Right now, it is just about preparing for Bloomfield.”; @AldamWill