By NED X. GRIFFEN
Matthew Simon asked the reporter how he was doing after Friday night's CIAC Class S final.
"Probably not as well as you're doing," the reporter replied.
"Nobody is doing as well as me right now," said Simon, an Ansonia senior lineman.
No football program in the state has been doing as well as the Chargers have the past three seasons. They ran over Naugatuck Valley League rival Woodland, 51-12, to win their third straight CIAC championship.
It was a CIAC record 19th state title for Ansonia, and it's the first team to ever win 15 games in a season. The Chargers are expected to finish as the No. 1 team in The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll.
It was also the Chargers' 43rd consecutive victory, the state's second longest streak. They haven't lost since Dec. 11, 2010, when St. Joseph beat them in the Class S final (49-28).
Yep — Ansonia's Class of 2014 didn't lost a game in three years.
Senior co-captain Antone Mack played varsity the last two seasons as a starting guard.
"It's the greatest feeling (the winning streak)," Mack said, "but the worst feeling at the same time because you don't want to be the team to lose. But then going all the way and winning all the games, it's probably the greatest thing in life. You can't buy these types of moments."
Newsome said, "It's an awesome feeling. I never thought we would go 43-0 and (win) three titles in a row."
The Chargers set a single-season scoring record (724) and were only in danger once all year. They trailed Seymour by six points with six minutes left in their Nov. 7 game. They rallied to take the lead, and then breathed a sigh of relief when the Wildcats missed a late 28-yard field goal to win, 21-20.
"It's not easy to play for Ansonia," Chargers coach Tom Brockett said. "You're under a lot of pressure. We ask a lot of our kids. Those 12 seniors that are left standing have given everything they have.
"We started talking about it last year in January — that people are going to tell you how good you are, you can't get beat. It's easy (to lose) if you just, for one second, let that guard down or start to think (you're unbeatable) or don't push yourself, you get beat. ... That night (against Seymour) is a perfect example. You turn the ball over six times. We don't get any turnovers. You don't win high school football games that way, and our kids still found a way to fight and believe that they could win and kept playing and did."
The Chargers got contributions from many against Woodland. Tyler Bailey intercepted the first play of the game, setting up Newsome's 6-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game.
Bailey forced a fumble on the first play of the next drive. Teammate Witold Gul returned it for a 27-yard touchdown.
Sophomore Tajik Bagley, who could Ansonia's workhorse next season, had five carries for 48 yards and a score.
Linebacker Saiheed Sanders, who should be on every All-State team, and fellow backer Tyler O'Connell each had a team-high seven tackles.
And then there was Newsome. The UConn-bound senior ran 34 times for 259 yards and four touchdowns. He opened the second half with a 44-yard run to break his own state-record single season rushing record. Newsome holds the record for most yards rushing in a season (3,867), most touchdowns in a season (68), as well as the career records for rushing yardage (10,672), touchdowns (187) and points (1,162).
Newsome also threw an 11-yard jump pass to Thomas Majchrzak for a touchdown.
"Arkeel ain't seeing over that line, so he better get up," Brockett said.
Mack said, "I know he'll go on to bigger-and-better things. I can say I blocked for an NFL running back. Hopefully I can say that."
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Anyone who follows football has heard that old chestnut that teams around these here parts must be able to run the ball because it's unpossible to throw late in the season when the weather gets cold and windy and snowy.
New Canaan almost threw as much as it ran during Saturday's 44-12 rout over Darien, its biggest rival. It was very cold. Boyle Stadium was covered in snow. And Rams quarterback Nick Cascione completed 14 of 24 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
New Canaan also avenged its 28-24 loss to Darien on Thanksgrabbing.
"We've been in this a few times," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said of the snow. "It looks pretty good today. We actually played pretty well in the snow. It turned out to be fun. I was a little hesitant coming into it. I was thinking about, "well, if we (play Sunday) with the sun, and it'll be 36 degrees.'"
New Canaan, one of the state's finest practitioners of the Tony Franklin System, ran a lot of screens and was able to throw downfield. The conditions actually worked in its favor as Blue Wave defenders had a hard time gaining their footing when Rams receivers made their cuts.
"(The screen passes) weren't part of the game plan," Cascione said, "but then we saw what God was giving us. We just threw the ball and took what was given to us."
Marinelli said, "We learned that in the last game (against Darien). We had wind and everything else, and we were trying to throw the ball deep. We did on the first play of the game and scored, but then it was harder and we had to go to a more intermediate passing game."
Alex LaPolice caught four passes for 86 yards and a touchdown for the Rams. Cole Turpin added four catches and a score.
"(The snow) is almost to your advantage if you throw," Marinelli said.
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We're sure folks around Ansonia don't want to hear that Darien coach Rob Trifone contends that New Canaan is the state's No. 1 team.
"I've said it before - that is the number one team in the state," Trifone said. "I know the people up in the Valley don't want to hear that, and unfortunately because we beat them, they're not going to get the number one nod. But let's have Ansonia come on down and play that team, and let's see how they do."
The Rams were number one in both The Day and New Haven Register Top 10 media polls for four weeks in November. They overtook Ansonia for the ranking after whomping eventual Class M champion St. Joseph, 61-20.
Darien's Thanksgiving upset dropped the Rams to No. 3 in The Day coaches' poll prior to states.
"I said to the media all week, I said most teams in the state of Connecticut cannot beat that team once. You're asking us to beat them twice. Again, I think it's one of the best New Canaan teams I've ever seen."
It was pointed out to Trifone that he and his team screwed up the Rams' chance to be No. 1.
"I certainly did," Trifone laughed, "but nonetheless, they were by far the better team today."
It's likely a moot point, of course — Ansonia should finish the season No. 1, even if the Rams pick up a few first-place votes for winning a tougher division.
• • • •
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT — the Class LL final between Southington and Fairfield Prep was postponed (again) on Sunday.
The CIAC announced that the game was, "tentatively rescheduled to 7:05 Mon., final determination to be made by 10am Mon."
Tentatively? HAH. The game will be played even if we're struck by the Apocalypse foretold by John in the Book of Revelation.
BEWARE THE FOUR HORSEMEN.
MSGVarsity.com will broadcast the game. We'll assume that the cuddly George DeMaio will also be live on WELI (960-AM).
• • • •
Marinelli won his state-record ninth CIAC championship. He and former Bloomfield-New Britain-New London-Harding coach Jack Cochran were tied at eight.
"Is that right," Marinelli said when told about his record. "I'm glad I'm winning at something."
Ansonia's state championship win gave Brockett his 100th win in his eighth season as head coach. He has the state's highest career winning percentage (.934, 100-7) and five state championships.
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CLASS LL STORIES
■ Bob Birge, Norwalk Hour: Wilton's DelliSanti, Prep seek Class LL state title.
■ Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated: Preview capsule.
■ Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American: Blue Knights put their trust in Barmore; and, Southington eyes Class LL title.
■ Carl Josephson, New Britain Herald: History one win away for Southington football; Pair of brothers have Southington rolling; Record-setting year for Southington; Southington rallied after one loss of season to Hall; and, Smick a kicking weapon for Southington.
■ Ken Lipshez, Meriden Record-Journal: Knights coaching staff fosters chemistry.
■ Matt Straub, New Britain Herald: Fairfield Prep has plenty of motivation, talent for Class LL title game; Father-son combo part of Southington success.
■ Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant: Southington's Tyler Hyde won't rest until he has a championship.
CLASS L STORIES
Watch the replay at MSGVarsity.com!
■ Jon Chik, Hearst Inc.: New Canaan battles through snow to claim Class L championship over rival Darien.
■ Scott Ericson, Hearst Inc.: LaPolice, New Canaan take the cake; and, Let it snow: New Canaan wins Class L title.
■ Steve Geoghegan, Norwalk Hour: New Canaan wins state championship.
■ Nick Greene, Hartford Courant: New Canaan tops Darien 44-12 for Class L title.
■ Jordan Griffith, MSGVarsity.com: New Canaan gets revenge, wins Class L title.
■ Dave Ruden, The Ruden Report: Rams reach goal of going out the right way; and, On balanced receiving corps, it is LaPolice's turn to shine.
CLASS M STORIES
Watch the replay at MSGVarsity.com!
■ Kevin Duffy, Hearst Inc.: Reaction: St. Joseph crushes Brookfield; and, CIAC football finals go on while safety ignored.
■ Rich Gregory, Hearst Inc.: St. Joseph wins Class M state championship; and, St. Joe's offensive line plows a path through the snow.
■ John Malone, MSGVarsity.com: St. Joseph runs assay with Class M title.
■ Peter Paguaga, JRC Amalgamated: St. Joseph tops Brookfield for Class M championship.
■ Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant: St. Joseph takes Class M championship.
■ Kountry Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American and despondent Woodland grad: Chargers prove they're best in state.
■ Roger Cleaveland, Waterbury Republican-American: Chargers raised the bar even higher in Ansonia.
■ Pooch Diggity Dogg, JRC Amalgamated: Newsome, Ansonia go down in history.
■ Michael "Pucks" Fornabaio, Hearst Inc.: Ansonia makes history with Class S state title.
■ Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant: Ansonia wins its 19th state championship.
■ Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American: Newsome, Ansonia win third straight state crown; and, Kingsley, teammates enjoy years of success at Woodland.
■ Sean Krofssik, Meriden Record-Journal: A handful of rings for Brockett.
■ Tom Yantz, Hartford Courant: Ansonia wins third straight state title behind Arkeel Newsome.
• • • •
A special HATS off to the affable Charlie Williams for his yeoman work as the on-field timekeeper at the Class L final.
The Boyle Stadium scoreboard went KA-BLAMMO before the game (and, later, the PA).
Charlie unleashed his trusty watch and went well out of his way to let coaches, players and the media know how much time was left in each quarter. It was especially helpful for said media given they chart when a drive begins and when a team scores.
• • • •
Thanks for reading. More later.
Thank you. Drive thru ...