The members of Norwalk Firefighters Local 830 work well together as team when on the job. Turns out they're also accomplished as teammates in the Stamford YMCA Flag Football League.
The Firefighters play in the semifinals at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at Westhill High School against top-seeded WesConn of Greenwich. The department is the two-time defending league champion.
Four fireman started playing eight years ago when a friend asked Fort Capomolla to help recruit players for a team. Capomolla, Steve St. Onge, Dennis Dustin and Marc Chimento were the original foursome. After a year, the Fire Department created its own team.
Capomolla, a former player at Stamford High, says the squad lacks superstars, but its strength is playing as a unit. "It's not a one-man show,'' says Fort, who plays primarily defense. "On any given day, somebody could be the guy that gets the game ball. We don't have one that stands out that much above the rest."
The Firefighters have been a perennial playoff contender. They improved when David Dustin, a former Brien McMahon quarterback, joined four years ago. Gene DeAngelis, a veteran firefighter who also plays on the department softball team, is the offensive coordinator.
The team reached the semifinals with a 28-7 victory Sunday. That sets up a rematch against Wesconn, the league's No. 1 seed. The Firefighters defeated Wesconn in the semifinals of last year's playoffs in five overtimes. St. Onge caught a touchdown pass at the end of regulation that forced overtime. "The league director calls it the Immaculate Reception,'' Capomolla said. "He was practically horizontal, and he managed to grab it and stay inbounds. It's the best catch I've ever seen in the league."
The Firefighters end up as a lower-seeded team because of player availability. Many work weekends, causing their lineup to fluctuate every week. When it comes to the playoffs, however, team members work with their colleagues to make sure shifts are covered. "Our first priority,'' Capomolla says, "is to protect the citizens of Norwalk."
Fort says spouses sometimes have difficulty understanding their passion for playing. Many are former football players, however, and this is their Super Bowl. "We're not the NFL, and we're not professional athletes,'' he says. "But we put our heart into it, maybe more than some professionals. We love sports and we love competing. That's why we do it."
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