Ansonia awes, upsets, daffy NVL, polls, and 1,198 other words
Some fans began streaming out of Ansonia High School's Nolan Field on Friday moments after their team had just gone ahead by 47 points.
There were still 11 minutes left in the game. …. in the third quarter.
The Chargers graduated the majority of last season's CIAC Class M championship team. They also opened the season against two teams that, during the preseason, were mentioned as Naugatuck Valley League contenders.
None of that has mattered as Ansonia keeps winning and winning big.
"We take everything seriously," senior co-captain Jh'mel Trammel said after Friday's 47-16 pasting of Woodland of Beacon Falls. "We're hungry. We don't care about how we won (a championship) last year. We're thinking about this year. We want to win it again."
Ansonia is ranked second in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll behind Xavier of Middletown, which has won 28 straight games. Already folks are talking about the Chargers winning a state-record 18th CIAC state championship this December.
"People want to crown us champs," Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. "We have a long, long, long way to go. I don't want to hear any of that nonsense from anybody.
"(People) can think whatever they want, (that talk) doesn't go on in that locker room. We bring it every week."
The Chargers have shown no drop-off from last season and, much to the dismay of opposing coaches, might have more offensive firepower than last year.
Ansonia has more skilled receivers this season in senior co-captains Andrew Matos, Ryan O'Connor and Raeshaun Finney (the latter who's a tight end).
The improvement in the passing game is impressive given that first-year starter Jai'Quan McKnight is just a sophomore. He wasn't even supposed to be the starter, or a quarterback, either.
Senior Tyler Lester was going to start his first season at quarterback, but broke his leg during the preseason.
McKnight, a running back, was moved under center. Last Friday, he completed all eight of his passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns against Woodland.
Matos caught all three touchdowns and had five catches for 177 yards.
"I thought Jai'Quan was great," Brockett said. "He's a sophomore, he's a young kid, but he's going to be a great one. He's growing up right in front of our own eyes. And Andrew, he's up there with the best in the state as a receiver."
The offense still runs through tailback Arkeel Newsome, though. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound junior ran for a state-record 3,763 yards in 14 games last season, second best in the nation based on statistics provided to MaxPreps.com.
Newsome also set state records for most touchdowns in a season (62) and points in a season (388).
"You give him a crack, he's gone," Brockett said. "He's definitely a great one.
"We have a lot of guys on the outside (at receiver) that are mixing it up and making plays. It puts a lot of pressure on a defense. Do you load the box up to stop Arkeel? Then you're leaving a lot of guys on an island."
Ansonia's defense has been just as good as the offense. It's allowed 42 points, although much of that was against the reserves. It shut out Woodland through three quarters.
"We just want to play hard," Trammel said. "We want to prove to ourselves that we can do it again, especially for the seniors. We want to do it one more time.
"As juniors, the seniors, they had their shot (and won a state title). Now we want to get ours. We just want to do it again."
■ ■ ■ ■
Trinity Catholic of Stamford pulled off the weekend's biggest shocker as it beat then No. 8 New Canaan in overtime Saturday, 31-28.
John Benalcazar ended the game with a 21-yard field goal for the Crusaders.
There's more to the story, however. It had been exactly 28 years since Trinity had beaten New Canaan.
It gets better — Pete Stokes quarterbacked Trinity to that win on Sept. 22, 1984. He's now the Crusaders head coach.
Shaquan Howsie ran 22 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns for Trinity.
■ ■ ■ ■
HATS OFF to Westhill of Stamford as it beat Trumbull in overtime Friday, 37-30, breaking its 19-game losing streak.
The Vikings also made history, as it was their first win over Trumbull in the 39-year history of their program.
Davell Cotterell scored on a 4-yard run in overtime for Westhill, and Brandon Turner's interception ended the game.
Cotterrell ran for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
■ ■ ■ ■
Oh, NVL, what got into you this weekend?
Ansonia's thumping of Woodland was the exception in The Valley over the weekend as the region featured three wild games.
Naugatuck's Mick Pernell returned the opening kickoff for an 86-yard touchdown. He also ran 29 times for 122 yards.
The Red Raiders had long touchdown runs by Justin Olenoski (77 yards) and Matt Nicolari (89 yards).
Not to be outdone, Wolcott stormed back from a 21-point deficit to stun Torrington, 39-34.
Torrington led 20-0 early in the second quarter. It later extended its lead to 21-6 that period.
The Eagles fought back thanks to the running of Joe Lynch and Mike Nicol. Lynch ran 11 times for 129 yards and four touchdowns, the last of which was the game-winner with one minute, 19 seconds left in the game.
Nicol had 19 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
The wackiest game of them all happened Saturday when Crosby of Waterbury outscored St. Paul of Bristol, 56-49.
Crosby, at one point of the game, scored 22 unanswered points in a little over three minutes.
Chris Herrera had 17 carries for 122 yards and three touchdowns and ran for three two-point conversions for Crosby. Jayson Morrison scored on a 95-yard interception return. Mike Reyes ran for a 19-yard touchdown with 1:19 left in the game to give the Bulldogs a 56-43 lead.
Logan Marchi completed 27 of 50 passes for 367 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions for the Falcons. Daija Fitzpatrick added eight catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
■ ■ ■ ■
The Day of New London Top 10 state coaches' poll (now with more ties!): 1. Xavier-Middletown (2-0, 12 first-place votes); 2. Ansonia (1); 3. Tie, Hand (2-0) and Staples-Westport (2-0); 5. Windsor (2-0); 6. Tie, Masuk-Monroe (2-0) and West Haven (2-0); 8. Greenwich (2-0); 9. Glastonbury (2-0); and, 10. Berlin (2-0).
The New Haven Register's Top 10 media poll: 1. Xavier (23 first-place votes); 2. Staples (2); 3. Hand (1); 4. Ansonia; 5. Windsor; 6. Greenwich; 7. Masuk; 8. Ledyard; 9. West Haven; and, 10. Darien.
Ned Freeman's cold, emotionless Top 10 at CalPreps.com: 1. Ansonia (2-0); 2. Xavier (2-0); 3. Staples (2-0); 4. Hand (2-0); 5. Masuk (2-0); 6. Greenwich (2-0); 7. New London (2-0); 8. Newtown (2-0); 9. West Haven (2-0); and, 10. Ledyard (2-0). Windsor is ranked 11th, Glastonbury 21st and Berlin 37th.
The Day of New London’s Top 10 state coaches' football poll
First-place votes in parentheses, record, points tabulated on a 30-28- 26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis, and last week’s ranking:
1. Xavier (12) 2-0 388 1
KNOW THIS: The Falcons took apart North Haven on the ground and the air in last Friday’s 49-12 win. DeAngelo Berry ran for 166 yards and four touchdowns, and Tim Boyle completed 17 of 26 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. NEXT: vs. Fairfield Prep, Friday, 7 p.m.
2. Ansonia 2-0 348 2
KNOW THIS: Great news, Class S contenders — the Chargers are throwing the ball with efficiency. McKnight completed all eight of his passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-16 rout of Woodland last Friday. NEXT: vs. Derby, Friday, 7 p.m.
T3. Hand 2-0 330 3
KNOW THIS: The Tigers’ offense had stalled against Hillhouse last Friday, so they put quarterback Matt Sullivan into the game to run the Wildcat. It worked. The senior ran 10 times for 139 yards and touchdown in a 37-19 win. NEXT: vs. Cheshire, Friday, 7 p.m.
T3. Staples 2-0 330 4
KNOW THIS: Yep, we have a tie this week. Nick Kelly and Jack Massie both ran for two touchdowns in last Friday’s 49-6 romp over Bridgeport Central. NEXT: vs. McMahon, Friday, 7 p.m.
5. Windsor 2-0 278 NR
KNOW THIS: Robert Quinn Fleeting did more with less in last Friday’s 49-7 clubbing of Bristol Central. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns, and ran five times for 80 yards and two touchdowns. NEXT: vs. Bristol Eastern, Friday, 7 p.m.
T6. Masuk 2-0 204 9
KNOW THIS: It’s early, but it sure looks like the South-West Conference championship goes through Monroe. Again. NEXT: vs. Immaculate, Friday, 7 p.m.
T6. West Haven 2-0 204 6
KNOW THIS: Another tie? Life, and Top 10 polls, are funny. Ervin Philips and Eddy Williams both ran for three touchdowns in last Friday’s 40-28 win over Guilford. NEXT: at Notre Dame-West Haven, Friday, 7 p.m.
8. Greenwich 2-0 187 7
KNOW THIS: The Cardinals picked up five more points, but dropped a spot thanks to Masuk’s ascension. Jose Melo competed 13 of 18 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another in last Friday’s 48-2 win over Bassick. NEXT: vs. Trumbull, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.
9. Glastonbury 2-0 152 10
KNOW THIS: Newington was tied at 28 with the Tomahawks at halftime in last Friday’s game. Glastonbury hit the afterburners in the second half and went on to win, 63-28. Tyler Janssen had 14 carries for 149 yards and four touchdowns, and Ben Berey scored on a school-record 99-yard kickoff return. NEXT: at Conard, Saturday, 1 p.m.
10. Berlin 2-0 142 NR
KNOW THIS: The Redcoats make their season debut after coming up big last Friday against Rocky Hill. The Terriers trailed by five points in the fourth quarter and was moving towards the end zone, but Berlin’s Kyle Young recovered fumble at the 15. Scott McLeod later scored on a 10-yard run as the Redcoats won, 25-14. NEXT: at Tolland, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Dropped out: New Canaan (8).
Also receiving votes: Ledyard (2-0), 108 points; Darien (2-0), 94; New London (2-0), 75; Middletown (2-0), 62; Holy Cross-Waterbury (2-0), 55; Southington (2-0), 54; Tie, Hillhouse-New Haven (1-1) and Norwich Free Academy (2-0), 52; Newtown (2-0), 48; Cheshire (2-0), 42; St. Joseph-Trumbull (1-1), 18; Tie, Cromwell (2-0) and Fairfield Prep (2-0), 16; Tie, New Canaan (1-1) and North Branford (2-0), 12; Tie, Brookfield (2-0) and Derby (2-0), 11; Tie, Avon (2-0) and Hartford Capital/Classical/Achievement (2-0), 7.
The following coaches voted: Tom Brockett, Ansonia; Jim Buonocore, Ledyard; Craig Bruno, Bunnell-Stratford; Steve Filippone, Hand-Madison; Rob Fleeting, Windsor; Tanner Grove, Montville; Jude Kelly, St. Paul-Bristol; Tim King, Valley Regional-Deep River; Sean Marinan, Xavier-Middletown; John Murphy, Masuk-Monroe; Marce Petroccio, Staples-Westport; Bob Zito, Maloney-Meriden.
MOST VIEWED MEDIA
MOST DISCUSSED STORIES