WALLINGFORD >> Winning a 19th state championship — and its third straight — serves as plenty of motivation for the Ansonia football team.
But there were a few other sources of motivation this week that may have helped the second-seeded Chargers eliminate third-seeded Rocky Hill 49-27 Saturday in the Class S semifinals at Sheehan High’s Riccitelli Field.
First, after falling to Ansonia 49-21 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Coginchaug coach John Bozzi told the Hartford Courant: “We lost to one guy. You take away Arkeel Newsome and this is a less-than-average football team. At this point right now, as they are, they wouldn’t be the best team in our division, let alone the state.”
Also, Newsome, who rushed for 492 yards and seven TDs against Coginchaug, lost out on the State Gatorade Player of the Year award to Middletown’s Dario Highsmith, despite being the state’s all-time leading rusher.
Newsome finished Saturday’s game with 269 yards and five touchdowns on 36 carries for the state’s lone undefeated and No. 1 team. The 14-0 Chargers will face No. 4 Woodland in the final on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at Central Connecticut State’s Arute Field. Ansonia beat Woodland 48-7 in the Naugatuck Valley League championship game on Nov. 20.
“We have worked for this. We definitely deserve it,” Newsome said.
Said Ansonia coach Tom Brockett: “None of that other stuff is even discussed. We are only worried about one thing: what we have to do.”
Rocky Hill (11-2) made it interesting with two quick touchdowns to start the third quarter to get the Terriers within 34-21, but Newsome was too much to overcome.
“I have a great bunch of kids. I love them. They did everything I asked them to do. They (Ansonia) are just a little bit too much for us,” said Rocky Hill coach Dave Coyne, who coached his final game for the Terriers Saturday. “These kids sent me out with a great season. I’d like to have played one more week, but that’s not to be.”
Newsome, who will play at UConn next season, rushed for four of his touchdowns in the first half. The second TD went for 64 yards while the fourth one on the final play of the first half went for 46 yards.
Newsome had 195 of his yards in the first half.
“Arkeel is a special player. I’ve said before that Arkeel has nothing left to prove,” Brockett said. “He is as consistent as you can be. He started for us as a freshman and since his sophomore year, he has been the best player in the state of Connecticut.”
Chris Young, who finished with a team-high 137 yards on 20 carries for the Terriers, scored his second touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Then Rocky Hill recovered the onside kick.
Three plays later, quarterback Andrew Jenkelunas his tight end Thomas Seaver (6 catches, 119 yards, two TDs) for an 18-yard touchdown to pull Rocky Hill within 34-21.
But Newsome answered with his final touchdown, this time a 32-yard run, and that was it for Rocky Hill.
“He is patient. He waits and waits and he uses his blockers well. He has a great offensive line,” Coyne said about Newsome.
Quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight threw a pair of TD passes and Tyler O’Connell recovered a fumble and made an interception off a tipped pass for Ansonia.
This will be the fourth straight state championship game for Ansonia, which will also attempt to become the first program in Connecticut history to win 15 games in a season.
“We have had so many great players, there is great consistency on the coaching staff, the community really buys into it and the kids take great pride in playing for Ansonia,” Brockett said.
Ansonia 49, Rocky Hill 27
Rocky Hill 7 0 14 6 0 — 27
Ansonia 14 20 8 7 0 — 49
A—Arkeel Newsome 1 run (Witold Gul kick)
R—Chris Young 29 run (Greg Marzilli kick)
A—Arkeel Newsome 64 run (Gul kick)
A—Arkeel Newsome 1 run (Gul kick)
A—Witold Gul 71 pass from Jaiquan McKnight (run failed)
A—Arkeel Newsome 46 run (Newsome run)
R—Chris Young 14 run (Marzilli kick)
R—Thomas Seaver 33 pass from Andrew Jenkelunas (Marzilli kick)
A—Arkeel Newsome 32 run (Newsome run)
A—Tom Majchrzak 15 pass from Jaiquan McKnight (Gul kick)
R—Thomas Seaver 18 pass from Andrew Jenkelunas (Marzilli kick)
Team records: Ansonia 14-0; Rocky Hill 11-2