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The play that gave Arkeel Newsome yet another state record was designed to go left.
Newsome, like all great artists, improvised. The Ansonia senior tailback took a step to the left, cut back to the right, and ran for 57-yard touchdown to start the second half of Thursday's game.
"I saw the right lane open, so," Newsome said, his voice trailing off.
The run made Newsome the state's career rushing leader and was the highlight of the Chargers' latest beat down, a 56-21 rout of Masuk in the marquee game of this weekend's NVL vs. SWC Challenge.
"That's the good thing about him — he's got the ability to cut it back," Ansonia coach Tom Brockett laughed. "I'm not coaching him too much. You do what he does, the great ones, it's natural.
"He was awesome tonight."
Newsome ran 26 times for 395 yards and six touchdowns for the Chargers (6-0), the top-ranked team in both The Day Top 10 state coaches and New Haven Register media polls.
Newsome has 8,397 career rushing yards, based on the statistics Ansonia entered into the MaxPreps.com database. He passed former Ansonia great Alex Thomas for the state record (8,279).
"He has a great feel and understanding where the field is, what his blocking schemes are and how to attack them," Masuk coach Dave Brennan said. "You don't teach vision. That's a natural thing for athletes of Arkeel's ability."
Ansonia left guard and senior co-captain Antone Mack said, "He just has incredible balance. … Blocking for Arkeel, since I'm with him, it's normal for me (to see), but if I were to watch him from another team, I'd like to block for him because he's kind of a safety blanket for you. And if you make a mistake, he might make someone miss and just be out of the park."
The Chargers (6-0) have been so dominant that Newsome never finishes games. He was taken out of the game with more than seven minutes left in the third quarter after scoring on a 66-yard run.
Newsome (5-foot-8, 182 pounds) has just 106 carries this season.
Newsome has run for 1,579 yards and 25 touchdowns. That's an average of 14.9 yards a carry.
"I think the one thing that's hard to get through to people," Brockett said, "is he's tough. He'll run over you. He'll run through you. He'll drag defenders. He'll carry them. He is one tough guy."
Tackles Tyler O'Connell and Matthew Simon, guards Ryan Hovan and Mack, and center Corey Dzienkiewicz made it all possible for Newsome.
"I thought this was their best effort of the year," Brockett said of the offensive line.
Newsome got his record. Ansonia, for one night, got to smile at its detractors.
The Chargers are perennially knocked for beating up teams in both the lightly regarded NVL and the CIAC's Class S division. Their critics have said that they wouldn't have won a state-record 18 CIAC state titles if they played in a tougher league or bigger state division.
Masuk (4-2) won't be confused with some of its great teams of the past, but one would be hard-pressed to find many instances over the past 18 seasons where a team manhandled it like Ansonia did on Thursday.
It was the Panthers' worst loss since Morgan beat it, 35-0, on Sept. 15, 1995.
Junior Jai'Quan McKnight completed all three of his passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Tajik Bagley had two catches for 82 yards and a score.
"I think that teams know that we can play outside of the league," Dzienkiewicz said. "We can play with L (and) LL schools."
Senior Saiheed Sanders was a beast at linebacker (one sack). Sophomore Tyler Bailey had an interception to set up Ansonia's third touchdown of the first quarter.
Brockett said, "There was a great high school coach who's not coaching anymore. He was here tonight. I saw him before the game, and he said — 'you don't think Ansonia is good? Go play 'em, then go tell me what you think.'
"We know we're capable of being beaten, but we also know that we have some pretty good football players who can get after it. We take pride in what we do."
• • • •
Doug Bonjour, Hearst Inc.: Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome sets state rushing record.
Kountry Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American: Ansonia rolls as Newsome runs into the record book.
Bryant Carpenter, Meriden Record-Journal: Week 6 previews.
Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated: Newsome sets all-time state rushing record in Ansonia's rout of Masuk; SCC beat; SWC-NVL beat; and, Pooch's Picks. Wait — two JRC staffers wrote SWC-NVL notebooks?
Michael DiMauro, TEAM DAY staffer/Mike Napoli's beard fumigator: Week 6 previews.
Kevin Duffy, Hearst Inc.: Anything's possible for Ansonia's Newsome.
Scott Ericson, Hearst Inc.: New Canaan's defense dominating the opposition.
Tom Evans, Norwalk Hour: Norwalk's 'D' line a force on gridiron.
David Fierro, Hearst Inc.: Greenwich visits high-flying Trumbull.
David Greenleaf, Bristol Press: Bristol Central football faces huge test against Middletown.
Carl Josephson, New Britain Herald: New Britain must take care of football against Simsbury.
Kevin D. Roberts, Bristol Press: Bristol Eastern football travels to Meriden to play Maloney.
Matt Straub, Bristol Press: Plainville football looking for respect against Berlin.
Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant: Glastonbury Defense Has Yielded No TDs In Last 10 Quarters.
Thanks for reading. More later.
Vaya con dios….
East Lyme returned just five players with any varsity experience and lost its first four games. It's made gradual improvement and downed Woodstock Academy last Friday, 42-7, its second-straight victory.