State football beat: St. Joseph making habit of reaching finals; Who’s No. 1?

Video above from WTNH’s

St. Joseph's Mufasa Abdul-Basir

St. Joseph’s Mufasa Abdul-Basir

SOUTHINGTON >> Joe DellaVecchia and his St. Joseph squad are becoming quite familiar with the annual CIAC football tournament press conference, held Wednesday at the Aqua Turf.

The Hogs were guests of honor at the event for the third time in five seasons.  During that span, DellaVecchia has led St. Joseph back to relevancy.

“I hope it means we’re back,” DellaVecchia said. “That was my goal when I took over. It took a little longer than I wanted it to.”

DellaVecchia began his tenure at one of the state’s most dominant programs in 1998. Although DellaVecchia’s early teams were consistent, they were unable to duplicate the success the program enjoyed for nearly two decades prior.

That changed in 2009, when DellaVecchia guided the Hogs to their first state title since 1990. Another championship followed the next season. After going 4-6 in 2011, the Hogs reached the state quarterfinals last year.

St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia

St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia

Now, St. Joseph will play for the Class M state championship when it faces Brookfield on Saturday at 10:05 p.m. at CCSU’s Arute Field. The Hogs will attempt to win their 11th title in 13 championship game appearances.

“In 2009, we broke through,” DellaVecchia said. “I think that was the boost we needed. It gave the kids a lot of confidence, and a lot of kids started coming to the school again. We think we’re where we want to be; that we’re going to have a chance to compete, and have a shot at the playoffs. That’s our goal every year. Hopefully we can stay here.”

DellaVeccia said this senior class is reminiscent of the seniors from the 2010 team that included DellaVecchia’s son Joe, a quarterback who just finished his junior year at Stonehill, and Temple sophomore Tyler Matakevich, who led the Owls in tackles for the second straight season.

“That (2010) was an unbelievable class,” DellaVecchia, the coach, said. “Having those kids helped bring other kids into the school. We’re starting to get more players; we’re building our numbers back up. This senior class I have now is kind of similar. They played as sophomores, and they kind of built themselves up to get to this position.”

The great debate

Ansonia entered the postseason as the No. 1 team in the Register Top 10 Poll. The Chargers (14-0), who have won 42 straight games, are the state’s only remaining unbeaten team.

But will a victory, and even a convincing one, over Woodland be enough to keep Ansonia in the top spot?

Many pundits feel the winner of the Class L final, a rematch between New Canaan and Darien, is more deserving.

Darien (12-1) handed New Canaan (13-1), the FCIAC champion, its only loss, a 28-24 decision on Thanksgiving. Darien’s only loss is to Class M finalist St. Joseph.

New Canaan was ranked No. 1 before losing to the Blue Wave. Ansonia was ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll, jumped to No. 1 the following week and then was bumped from its perch when New Canaan defeated St. Joseph on Nov. 1.

“I have not seen Ansonia play this year,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “I know they’re a great program, but I don’t know much about them, and I don’t know much about their league.

“I do know that the best team I’ve seen this year is New Canaan. In my opinion, if you beat a No. 1 team twice in the same year, you deserve at least some share of No. 1, but we have to get there first.”

Darien, like New Canaan, has an impressive resume. The Blue Wave defeated Class L semifinalist North Haven on the road in the regular season before knocking off New Canaan on Thanksgiving.

Then Darien earned comeback victories over Hand and Middletown during the first two rounds of the playoffs to set up another meeting with the rival Rams.

“In our last four games, we had to come from behind,” Trifone said. “There’s no question this team has a lot of character and grit. We’ll see if we can do it again. But, once again, we’re facing, in my opinion, the best team in the state of Connecticut.”

Weather Woes

According to the CIAC by-laws, the state finals must be completed by Sunday, “or there’s no championship,” executive director Paul Hoey said.

Although the finals were on as scheduled as of Wednesday night, the threat of inclement weather looming for this weekend may force the CIAC to come up with alternative plans.

Those plans could include moving the start time of the Class LL final up to earlier in the day on Saturday and playing the Class L final at another site, possibly Fairfield University, on Sunday, although this was not confirmed by the CIAC.

A possible switch could help Darien and New Canaan. Parties from both schools have been outspoken about wanting to move their state championship game to a site closer to their hometowns.

The CIAC said it will make an official decision by  noon Thursday.

Common bond

Ansonia's Arkeel Newsome

Ansonia’s Arkeel Newsome

Ansonia’s Arkeel Newsome, Southington’s Stephen Barmore and New Canaan’s Teddy Bossidy will all be playing for a state championship this weekend.

But the three also have something else in common: they played together in the Football University Youth All-American Bowl while in the eighth grade. They were participants for the East team against the West team in the event held at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Northwest Catholic quarterback Christian Flynn also played for the East team.

Southington QB Stephen Barmore

Southington QB Stephen Barmore

Ansonia will face Woodland for the Class S title on Friday at 7:05 p.m., New Canaan battles Darien for the Class L title on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. and Southington squares off against Fairfield Prep for the Class LL title on Saturday at 6:05 p.m.

“It’s crazy,” said the UConn-bound Newsome, “that we all played together in eighth grade and now were back as seniors trying to win a state title.”

Said Barmore: “It’s kind of cool to see us all back here. I’ve kept in contact with them, especially with Arkeel and Christian, over the years. It’s really nice to see them having such successful seasons, too.”

Barmore remembers how Newsome returned a kickoff for a touchdown during the East’s victory, an early indication of Newsome’s potential. Newsome, already the state’s all-time leading rusher, will attempt to win his third straight title.

“Just watching him play, looking at him from the sideline, I thought he was going to be something special,” said Barmore, who will attend Yale. “He’s had one of, if not the greatest, Connecticut high school football careers. You could really see (the talent) with him at that age.”


  1. Player's mom says

    last I checked the score board this season SJ beat Darien 28 to 14 & coach Dell took his starters out and put his JV team in the last 8 minutes of the game.

  2. I'll be watching from my warm home says

    New Canaan will beat Darien by 4 TDs and lock up #1 in state.
    Southington and Prep will battle to the death with SHS coming out on top by less than a TD.
    St Joe’s and Ansonia will bore us as they cruise past whoever they’re playing.

    Final Poll
    1. NC
    2. Southington
    3. St Joseph
    4. Ansonia
    5. Prep
    6. Darien
    7. West Haven
    8. Middletown
    9. Hand
    10. North Haven
    11. Glastonbury
    12. Xavier
    13. New London
    14. Brookfield
    15. Ridgefield

    • HSFB_fanatic says

      Brookfield in top 15? No chance. Newtown (where are they) blew them out twice. Hand at #9 is a gift based on past years. X beat them. New London???

    • willie says

      new london should be about 30. very weak schedule, lost to some really weak team. middletown about 15. very very weak schedule. yea i know they played darien did wilton and ridgefield (cancelled xavier on thanksgiving, not to be encouraged but not a factor in ranking..just a footnote) newtown 14. brookfield out, come on. that leaves a slot. best other team if the truth be known is shelton. i have no connection to shelton but on the merits they belong in the top 15.

  3. bandwagoner says

    It will be very hard to argue against SJ for #1 if they, Prep and Darien win on this weekend. Also SJ is the last team to beat Ansonia in 2010 class S championship (the last time they matched up).

    A little aside, Matakevich finished the season with 106 solo tackles. Second best was a mere 18 behind.

  4. PapaDags says

    Don’t understand how you could even think of putting SJ #1—-how does beating Ansonia 3 yrs ago mean anything to your logic? It will come down to NC or Ansonia. Darien will not win again. And right now Ansonia is on top.. So NC will need a blowout to even be considered to leapfrog the #1 team as it stands today- well that’s the way I see it

  5. willie says

    winner of darien-NC is number should be number 1. if nc clear. if darien, well they beat the best other team it seems twice and, while they lst to st joes, have better record and played a much tougher schedule in L to win the finals. this is all clear.
    if southington wins they are number two. not as tough a schedule as st joes but better record and tougher class.
    if prep wins, probably have to go with st joes 2 and prep 3. prep will have had a much tougher and impressive road to a class title than st joes. however, same record and while it was a hail mary pass i think one has to treat a head on win with teams with the same record as sacrosanct. yes prep is a different team now and would probably beat st joes but that is all hypothetical.
    ansonia 4 I suppose. then loser of nc and darien next and loser of prep at southington. silly to have ansonia number one jsut because they are number one now ie dont move them if they dont lose. silly. begs the question why did anyone put them number one to begin with…

  6. BIG DOG says

    Papa you got Seymour on your mind and Ansonia in your blood.From a logical standpoint and I know that’s hard with you NVL people but do really think Ansonia’s resume is worthy of an overall state title compared to say the L winner?Go drum up some support from Wags[Ray] and Remmy on your side of the blog….Read the latest post from your fearless leader he might even change his vote again this weekend.Only ones with any knowledge over there is Fish and Drake they see the whole picture.Enjoy the rout of whipping boy Woody tomorrow a team that should of lost to little bitty Derby if not for a miracle.You and Ray can hoist the S trophy at mid field and gloat WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS of the small division.

  7. Realist says

    Thank goodness the games will start soon…because all this blather in the posts is really getting ridiculous. Let’s all bundle up and head to New Britain and let the kids on the field decide it for real. All you guys who are reliving your AMAZING high school football days can then chill out 😉

  8. JB says

    Need to change these games to Friday night. Forecast is for 7+ inches of snow Saturday 9am thru Sunday 12noon … that would close every high school in the state. Probability is too high that the CIAC won’t be allowed to risk all those players and fans buses into that weather pattern. New Britian forecast …

  9. JB says

    That is cutting it close … hope the storm moves in slower that expected. Regardless, not going to be a passing day … wind chill around 5 degrees. Shutdown defense will win the day. NC by 3 TDs

  10. johnnybaccala says

    The CIAC has now ruined my entire weekend. Was planning on attending all three games but now can go too only two. Ansonia vs Woodlands on Friday and New Canaan vs. Darien on Saturday. My son who plays for ST.Joes will be very upset that I choose the New Canaan vs. Darien game but lets get real. That game should be a classic.

  11. says

    when you lie its hard to keep track——-ansonia played same schedule last 15 years and was voted no.1 3 times.if ansonia wins they will be only 15-0 team in state—if they get jumped it will be a travesty to the kids——roll chargers

  12. johnnybaccala says

    SPB….Only kidding about my son. I agree with Ray that if Ansonia gets jumped by another team in the state it wouldn’t be fair to the kids from Ansonia. The problem I have is how did they ever get to #1 in the first place. Because New Canaan lost or because Darien was beaten by Joes or that Joes was beaten twice by NC. Look at the schedules those three teams played. Why didn’t Platt move to #1 when they were undefeated or Newtown for that matter. Very curious to see if Woodlands can give Ansonia a descent game. By descent I mean within four touchdowns in the first half. I only saw Ansonia play once this year and that was against Torrington. Being nice here but Torrington and Abbott Tech would be a toss-up Check that Abbott Tech would be a 3 point pick.

    Ansonia is very good though and are well-coached but it’s a shame for everyone that with their schedule they cannot be challenged.

    Line change on the Torrington-Abbott Tech game. The techman are now a 4 point pick. Over and under 16.

  13. willie says

    unfair to the ansonia kids not to rank them number 1? is that how the number 1 ranking should be decided? why dont we just rank all of the top 20 teams number 1 so as not to hurt anyones feelings? i am of course as concerned for the feelings of the ansonia kids as everyone else, and have great respect for the ansonia program and what they have accomplished, great class s school cleaning up in class s. but what about the feelings of the 100s or 1000s of kids who play a tough schedule, banging heads week after week, some wins some loses? how do you seriously explain to the kids at prep or st joes or shelton or darien if they beat nc for a second time or any of the other 20-25 schools that would easily go 15-0 if they played ansonias schedule that ansonia has to be number one to be fair to their kids? is this fair to those 100s or 1000s of kids? no it is not. what message does this send? hint: dont take the tough road in life, play the angles…
    oh, but we have to keep ansonia number one because they are number one now. great logic! begs the question why are they number one now? what idiots put a team who plays such a weak schedule number one? oh because they are undefeated..oh but 20-25 schools would be undefeated if they played ansonias schedule. oh well it would be unfair not to rank them number 1…these arguments are like pushing on a string.
    and when the ansonia fans, or apologists, are cornered on the merits (quite easy to do because on the merits they have an extremely weak case), they switch to personal attacks eg you are ansonia hater or you are jealous….

  14. T says

    @Ray Brown Ansonia was voted number 1 over a Greenwhich team in 2007 that had one loss- to the number 1 undefeated team in Florida. That shows how inept the voters are. Sadly, Ansonia fans thought they deserved the number one spot that year. Ansonia will never change because they know the system benefits them

    • Sean Patrick BowleySean Patrick Bowley says

      @T – to be fair to us, in 2007 Ansonia destroyed an unbeaten team, 35-0 — a team, by the way, which was led by a guy named Jordan Reed. Ansonia held him and New London to 91 yards of total offense.

  15. T says

    @bandwagoner you should be blocked from the blog after your comment. To think that SJ beating Ansonia in 2010 holds any weight makes everyone on this blog think less of you and St. Joes as an academic institution. What does solo tackles have to do with anything? SJ lost twice to NC so if NC beats Darien they will be ranked ahead of SJ. If Darien beats NC, they will be ahead of SJ with only one loss. I understand they lost to SJ but they had a tougher schedule and beating NC twice (most talented team in the state who beat SJ twice) will propell them to the number one spot. Everyone knows St. Joes is going to win their game. You shouldn’t post again. St Joes should be cheering for NC if they want the number 2 spot. Please never post again!

  16. big ansonia fan says

    You are all ansonia haters (except ray)!! these other teams are all over rated. Tell them Ray. Ansonia does not play anyone who is over rated! This is why we are number 1. You have to be fair to our kids! we are number 1 and undefeated! You want to be undefeated, transfer to our league or shut up! What about fairness to kids on teams who actually play each other??? Only an ansonia hater would ask such a stupid question. These teams are over rated! We have seen the film! Are you listening you jealous hater! Do I have to repeat myself? Ray-please tell them.

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