NEW BRITAIN >> For the third time in the last five seasons, and 11th overall, the St. Joseph football team is a state champion, rolling over Brookfield 54-16 at Central Connecticut State University’s Arute Field.
“It’s a different group of kids. In 2011 we lost a lot of players and all these kids had to play as sophomores and we got beat up a bit,” St. Joseph’s head coach Joe Della Vecchia said. “To make the playoffs last year and get knocked out early, we had a little attitude coming into this year and we knew were better than that and wanted to finish it off.”
Musfasha Abdul Basir rushed for 166-yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half, leading the way for the Hogs (13-2) in the snowy conditions.
“The conditions didn’t bother me. I prefer running in snow and rain; it makes me work twice as hard. It’s kind of fun jumping around, sliding in snow,” Abdul Basir said.
“A great day for them (offensive line). They were just moving people out of the way and made great running lines for me and (Joey) Civitella. They work hard all week and they were relay serious about this game and wanted to leave with a big statement.”
Abdul Basir rushed for both of his touchdowns in the first quarter, carrying the load for the Hogs early on, which was their game plan.
“More due to the field conditions when we got here, we thought we’d have to play more of an inside game,” Della Vecchia said.
After Abdul Basir’s two touchdown runs, St. Joseph turned to quarterback Jordan Vazzano who started the game off throwing two incomplete passes. He then completed his last five passes, four of them to four different receivers. All of them went for touchdowns.
“The first couple were more mental than having something to do with weather,” Vazzano said. “I was confident the whole time I was confident in game plan and my whole team.”
Della Vecchia was confident that his senior quarterback would be able to pass through the snow.
“We talked before the game and said he was fine,” he said. “He has a strong arm and big hands, so he felt fine. He just wasn’t putting heat on the first two passes.”
Jack Yerxa had a 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter for St. Joseph.
The Cadets were able to do what they wanted to against the Bobcats’ defense all game.
The Bobcats (11-4) were in search of their third state title.
“We got beat by a better team. They were as advertised,” Brookfield head coach Rich Angarano said. “Not much we could do as an offense and they ran the ball down our throats.”
The Bobcats were able to get on the board, scoring two touchdowns late, runs by Brad Westmark and Bobby Drysdale in the fourth quarter. Drysdale rushed for a game-high 172 yards in the loss.
With his third state title under his belt, Dellavecchia doesn’t have a favorite.
“They’re all special in their different ways,” said Dellavecchia. “First two with my sons and this one, we worked really hard the past three years to get back here, you never know when you’re going to get an opportunity like this. It’s a special feeling.”
BROOKFIELD 0 0 0 16 — 16
ST. JOSEPH 16 22 16 0 — 54
SJ — Mufasha Abdul Basir 3 run (Abdul Basir run)
SJ–Abdul Basir 1 run (Mark Hirschbeck pass Jordan Vazzano)
SJ–Lars Pedersen 30 pass Jordan Vazzano (pass failed)
SJ–Mark Hirschbeck 21 pass Vazzano (Hirschbeck pas Vazzano)
SJ–Abdul Basir 54 pass Vazzano (Hirschbeck pass Vazzano)
SJ–Jack Yerxa 40 fumble recovery return (Joey Civitella run)
SJ–Shane Miller 46 pass Vazzano (Civitella run)
B–Brad Westmark 27 run (Austin Reich run)
B–Bobby Drysdale 50 run (Drysdale run)
Rushing: SJ – Mufasha Abdul Basir 19-166, 2 touchdowns; Christian Trefz 7-15; Joey Civitella 3-13; Shane Miller 4-12. B – Bobby Drysdale 21-172, 1 touchdown; Brad Westmark 7-54, 1 touchdown; Austin Reich 9-44; Daniel Jackson 3-5; Gabe Pompette 1-3.
Passing: SJ – Jordan Vazzano 5-7, 168, 4 touchdowns. B – Brad Westmark 3-12, 15.
Receiving: SJ – Shane Miller 2-63, 1 touchdown; Mufasha Abdul Basir 1-54, 1 touchdown; Lars Pedersen 1-30, 1 touchdown; Mark Hirschbeck 1-21, 1 touchdown. B – Liam Clancy 1-10; Bobby Drysdale 1-5; Nick Seis 1-0.
Team Records: St. Joseph 13-2, Brookfield 11-4