2012 Class S championship preview: Ansonia vs. North Branford


Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome

No. 1 Ansonia vs. No. 3 North Branford

WHEN/WHERE — Saturday, 10:35 a.m., Rentschler Field, East Hartford
ON THE AIR — Radio: WELI 960-AM; TV: CPTV Sports; Online: ESPN 3, Watch ESPN app
COACHES — Ansonia: Tom Brockett (7th year, 84-7, 3 state titles); North Branford: Mark Basil (11th year, 82-34)
RECORDS — Ansonia: 13-0 (NVL champs); North Branford: 12-0 (Pequot League Sassacus 1st place)
HOW THEY GOT HERE — Ansonia: def. Prince Tech 53-16; def. Hyde Leadership 41-13. North Branford: def. Trinity Catholic 49-28; def. Woodland 62-27.
STATE TITLES — Ansonia: (17-8) 1976-S, 1977-S, 1979-M, 1981-SII, 1982-SII, 1983-SII, 1984-SII, 1987-S, 1988-S, 1989-S, 1994-SS, 1995-S, 2002-S, 2003-S, 2006-S, 2007-S; 2011-M; North Branford: (1-1) 1979-S

North Branford QB Brandan Basil

TOP PLAYERS — Ansonia: Soph. QB JaiQuan McKnight (1,300 yards 23 TDs, 6 INTs); Jr. RB Arkeel Newsome (2,008 rushing yards, 35 TDs); Sr. WR/LB Andrew Matos (970 yards, 13 TDs); Sr. TE/DE Raeshaun Finney.Sr. LB Hezekiah Duncan Jr. Corey Dzienciewicz (6-4, 250); Sr. OL/DL Jh’mel Trammel (5-9, 217); Sr. DB Ryan O’Connor; Sr. OL Antone Mack (5-9, 260); Soph. OL/DL Tyler O’Connell (5-9, 230). North Branford: Sr. QB Brandan Basil (166-for-267 passing, 2,793 yards, 40 TDs, 7 interceptions); Sr. RB/KR Joe DeLucia (1,090 all-purpose yards, 26 TDs); Sr. RB/LB Dale Hausman (1,311 yards rushing, 13 TDs; Sr. RB/LB Chris Caron (48 receptions, 993 yards, 15 TDs), Sr. G/DE Christian Sgro (10 sacks); Sr. Alex McGuigan (545 yards receiving).

WORTH NOTING — Ansonia has the Connecticut-best 17 state championships, all since the CIAC playoffs began in 1976. … The Chargers have won 27 straight games. Their last loss was in the 2011 Class S final to St. Joseph. The Connecticut record is 49 set by Cheshire from 1992-96. Ansonia’s best winning streak is 35 games from 2005-08. … Newsome set the state record for career touchdowns with 116 in Ansonia’s semifinal win over Hyde. The previous record was held by former Charger Alex Thomas. … Brockett has the best overall winning percentage (.923) in state history, passing former Southington coach Joe Orsene who went 50-4-1 from 1961-66. … Ansonia has scored over 40 points in 12 of its 13 games. … Ansonia lost former coach Jack Hunt, who won 193 games and seven state championships from 1987-2005, to cancer on Thanksgiving morning. … North Branford quarterback Brandan Basil is the son of coach Mark Basil. …The T-Birds are playing in their first state final since losing to Bloomfield, 40-7, in the 2001 Class S championship game. The T-Birds defeated Ansonia 21-20 in the semifinals that year. …North Branford has met Ansonia twice more in the state playoffs. Ansonia has won both meetings: 47-14 in the 2007 Class S semifinals and 28-0 in the 2008 Class S semifinals. This is Basil’s first state championship game as coach. He is 0-2 vs. Ansonia. … The Thunderbirds average 234 passing yards and 226 rushing yards. … North Branford has scored at least 40 points in 11 of its 12 games. The Thunderbirds scored 70 in a win over Old Saybrook on Oct. 12. … The Thunderbirds scored nine times, piling up 546 yards in their semifinal win over Woodland, which lost to Ansonia twice this season including the NVL championship game.

Ansonia's Andrew Matos

OUTLOOK — North Branford has always had a solid football program. But this year, armed with 19 seniors, talented skill players and tough linemen and backers, North Branford has become one of the teams in the state and is looking like a strong contender for the Class S title. Basil is a talent at quarterback, Hausman is fast and tough to bring down, DeLucia and Caron are top-notch receivers. This offense can score and the defense, led by all of those players and Sgro is exceptional. But Ansonia, well, Ansonia’s a whole new ballgame. North Branford is well aware. The T-Birds have faced the Chargers in the playoffs before. They understand the Chargers’ talent and tradition. Maybe at midseason, North Branford’s prospects would have looked better. But with electric back Arkeel Newsome back in top form, the Chargers have one more weapon in their arsenal to go with terrors like Duncan and McKnight. If Ansonia has a weakness, it’s the experience up front, but if Newsome gets into the open field, he’ll be tough to catch. Ansonia’s defense is another worry, with Trammell, Duncan, Matos and Finney roaming the running and passing lanes. North Branford’s dynamic offense should be able to score, at least early until Ansonia adjusts. But as solid as the T-Birds’ defense can be, it’s still prone to giving up yards. And there hasn’t been a team that’s figured out how to stop Newsome or Matos or McKnight… or Ansonia.

OUR PICK — Ansonia 49, North Branford 28.

Sean Patrick Bowley

32 Responses

  1. Remmy says:

    The unsung hero of the Ansonia defense the last three years is Ryan O’Connor. Watch out for #14 on defense.

    Matos is outstanding. He’ll likely be the most talented player on that field come Saturday.

    With that said, I expect a good game early on.

  2. The Dude says:

    Ansonia 48 North Branford 32- North Branford is the best team to come out of the Pequot in a long time, maybe ever. Their skill position players are definitely talented enough to make Ansonia sweat for the first time in a couple of years. But Newsome, Matos and company pull away in the end.

  3. ciacfollower says:

    NB over Ansonia is the genuine upset here.
    The Chargers have the cross-hairs on them, & the Birds are hungrier and have more to prove.

  4. c-o-n-spiracy says:

    just read a story about why ansonia is so good. read quotes from all credible sources but was just waiting for somebody to say what was really on their minds. i was literally laughing reading these comments. nobody wanted to mention the pink elephant in the room or in this case the elephants living in waterbury and will be moving to ansonia for their freshmen year.

  5. ciacfollower says:

    Oh c’mon C-O-N Man, that was shallow, do elaborate !

  6. Rob says:

    Ansonia has won 17 state titles. Arkeel Newsome has won 1 state title. Ansonia was a great program before Newsome and McKnight and they will be great after they are gone. They grew up in Watrerbury and moved to Ansonia, primarily to play football. This was a decision their parents made in the best interest of the kids.

    If a family who lives in Cromwell decides it is in their childs best interest to attend Xavier (for whatever reason: sports, education, religious beliefs) then the family pays for the child to go to Xavier. This is a decision made within the rules for the benefit of the kid.

    Same situation in Newsome’s case. His parents decided it was in his best overall interest to play football for Ansonia, so he moved to Ansonia. Bottom line: He lives in Ansonia. He goes to Ansonia High School. He plays football for Ansonia High School.

  7. ciacfollower says:

    @Rob – nothin wrong with that, right ?
    With exceptionally successfull programs like Andonia’s & Hands, people (losers) naturally want to try & create a conspiracy theory.

  8. c-o-n-spiracy says:

    ok, so xavier recruits too. so you named arkeel and his state title. are you going to go through and count off the other ones won with kids from other towns? (or it only benefits your stance to say just this one)

  9. ciacfollower says:

    * Ansonia’s….Apologies Chargers

  10. Kyle says:

    Alex Thomas played in The Pop Warner system his whole life, won two state titles, Kenny Tinney, same thing, won two state titles. There’s 4 state titles, from two players who were the best players this state has seen in a long time. Your point….

    Arkeel came to Ansonia so he can better himself, who wants to run for 900 yards at Kennedy and go no where, okay Ill go to Ansonia and be the states all time leading rusher in every category….ever.

    Sounds like he made the right move. Go knock on the door where he lives in Ansonia, they’ll answer.

    Stop with you recruiting thing, its part of what goes on now a days you’re beating a dead horse and sound like a woman complaining on her period. When Arkeel goes to Miami next to hometown its going to say….Ansonia BAHAHAHAHA! Keep crying cause we have him for one more year and his cousin who might be better for two more years!

  11. ciacfollower says:

    Before they kick it off tonight,

    here’s my pics one last time :


  12. ciacfollower says:

    The real elephant in the room with all this banter, is when are Ansonia & Hand gonna play each other. I’m glad to hear the FCIAC & SCC are finally gonna mix it up during the regular season but when these two titans finally play each other (& it WILL happen some year) it will make last Oct 12th’s “game of the century” seem like a sideshow.

  13. Rob says:

    Also, a very important distinction in all of this:

    Arkeel Newsome sought out Ansonia, not the other way around. He and his family actively chose to have Arkeel play his high school ball at Ansonia, not the other way around.

  14. Reggie Palmer says:

    @ CIAC follower
    Don’t the laws of probability alone make picking 3 upsets very unlikely? You might get 1 of the 3.

  15. tj says:

    I’m bummed about the rain, thank goodness for CPTV/ESPN3. My picks:

    Xavier 27 – NFA 14
    For those who were at the Hillhouse game, like me, know Xavier “took a licking and kept on ticking” and by the 4th quarter Hillhouse was exhausted, which led to crucial 4Q penalties and turnovers and X’s comeback victory. Same scenario with NFA, but exasperated by the rain.

    North Branford 42 – Ansonia 41 (in OT)
    I know nothing about NB except for what I’ve seen on video – what I see I like. Ansonia’s play action is a killer, but there’s got to be one close game. Right?

    Hillhouse 47 – Berlin 6
    Hillhouse’s band and dancers are the best – I hope they make it to the game, because this one is over by the 8:00 minute mark of the second quarter.

    Hand 40 – Windsor 13
    Windsor dominated NC, though you wouldn’t know it from Ruden’s biased (surprise!) article. I bet Windsor incurred more penalty yards than yards gained by NC’s offense. That said:
    Masuk squeaked by Middletown.
    Windsor squeaked by Middletown.
    Hand whipped Masuk.
    Hand will have no problem with Windsor.

  16. ciacfollower says:

    Reggie – Only one of my pics is a genuine upset, & thats the Birds over the Chargers.
    Apparently I’m the only one on this blog who follows the whole CIAC.

  17. Jesse says:

    I am in the Navy and have served for th elast 13.5 years and have lived in Florida and Virginia were football is big time.
    St Thomas Aquinas usually a top ranked team in the country recruits kids all the time and they continually win.
    In Chesapeake, Va they have specialty programs kids can go through in certain high schools. So you get kids going to play at certain high schools to go through the educational program. If you believe that football has nothing to do with going to that school then you would be foolish.
    But to move to Ansonia from Waterbury and be mad at a kis is ridiculous. Who the hell wants to live in Waterbury? What kind of recognition is he going to get there? NONE, that’s how much. Who is the last kid to get recruited out of Kenedy?
    Sounds like sour grapes to me.

  18. Garf says:

    @5 It baffles me that you can take an article so full of positivity and respect and try to turn it to something negative… I especially appreciated the respect shown by Filippone and Marinan. This is something we can all do a better job with…I know as someone who has gotten so much enjoyment in life from watching Ansonia kids develop and succeed in football that I now have a greater appreciation for other programs. This year alone I was a huge fan of Frusciante and Kelly at Staples, the matrix from Montville (Jeremiah Crowley – kid is sick), Hand’s D, and Cooper and Anderson at Hillhouse, among others. Here’s a link to the article btw…


  19. Arthur T. says:

    Who wants to live in Ansonia, it’s a dump! After Football season, what happens in the valley? Nothing but crime.

  20. Reggie palmer says:

    @ ciacfollower
    1st pick wrong pal. Not too late to change!

    Tj (above) is right. Windsor has the talent/potential to beat Hand, but plays way too sloppy to have a prayer = no shot.

    Scc going 3 for 3!

  21. ciacfollower says:

    Reggie – Me & Tj laid our pics out there before kick-off. I didnt notice yours…Pal

  22. Reggie Palmer says:

    @ ciacfollower
    It is better to be silent and thought a fool, than to post dumb picks and remove all doubt.

  23. Jesse says:

    Arthur have you lived in the Valley?

  24. Xhs says:

    Well ciac follower you are 0-2 and it wasn’t close. Congrats to Ansonia. They should rename class s to class Ansonia. Another very good class S team and you deserve your props. Sooner or later you will get sick of cream puffs and jump up with the big boys. You have a program that could handle it. Sorry to say but until you do I have you as #7 in the state with the three SCC teams better, Staples, Windsor and NFA (debate able ) but congrats on a great season

  25. Garf says:

    @25 Ansonia won Class M last year 35-0 final I believe.

  26. another fan says:

    ESPN3 commentaters during the halftime interview badgered Kyle Brennen? of the Waterbury Republican, about how Ansonia has such a great team year in and year out,totaly discracefull on their part because ,while Kyle was a class act in answering the dumb questions he did finally ellude to the fact a couple very talented kids came from Waterbury.I wish Kyle added that it is just recently Ansonia has been getting kids with talent to move to Ansonia from Waterbury and if every town could build a program like Ansonia has then they too can attract players from anywhere the parents decide the future is beter for their kids.

  27. another fan says:


    Ansonia played just as many cream puffs as Saples,Windsor,and NFA.I do respect that other SCC team (*added) Hand for playing top rated teams consistantly.

  28. RAY BROWN says:


  29. GHS1973 says:

    @Ray…I’m a beleiver in your boys from Ansonia, but they would be beaten back by the big beasts of the LL, IMO…I could be wrong, though…I wish we could squeeze 2 more games in, after the Finals to settle it all…But, Thanksgiving came early this year, and it’ll probably be late next year…Not enougth time usually before XMAS to get those kind of games in, unfortunaly..

  30. GHS1973 says:

    LL vrs M, and L vrs S, with the winners taking it, No questions asked…

  31. GHS1973 says:

    obviously…the two victors play each other for the final win…