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
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.
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.
- FURTHER READING
- Previewing the Class S championship – NVL Football Blog (Kyle & Remmy)
- Brockett expects battle from North Branford in Class S final — Connecticut Post
RELATED VIDEOS (Look for more tomorrow)