OXFORD — The rivalry between the Ansonia and Derby high school football teams dates back to 1902. Although the players, coaches — and sometimes venues — change, one constant continues: the Chargers commitment to a power running offense.
Friday night Ansonia’s hard-running, coupled with its strong defense, lifted the Charges to a 38-0 victory over the Red Raiders at Oxford High.
“We’ve been playing football for how many years now with Ansonia?,” Derby coach George French said. “And they’ve been running power and iso for god knows how long? What you see is what you get. It’s the same football we were watching today that in 1970 they’re running, power and here we are running power again. It’s their brand of football and it’s the way they play. They do a great job of it. They always have.”
Shykeem Harmon led the way for Ansonia, which improved to 6-0 and leads the all-time series with Derby 59-28-8. The junior standout finished with 253 yards on 15 carries — four going for touchdowns.
“Coming up here, we knew we had to get the job done no matter what,” Harmon said.
In the buildup to the 95th edition of the rivalry there was some mild controversy that the game would be staged at Oxford High, which is where the Red Raiders have played while the school’s Ryan Sports Complex continues its multimillion dollar renovation.
That midweek murmuring certainly overshadowed any on-field drama Friday night — Ansonia’s swarming defense and Harmon took care of that in short order.
Ansonia forced a quick three-and-out — including a sack of Zerion Montgomery by Troy Sanders — on the first Derby possession. On the next play from scrimmage Harmon went 43 yards to make it 7-0 with barely 90 seconds gone.
“It started on the first play,” French said. “They shot out with a cannon, with the power. They took it to the house and that was the end of it.”
Ansonia also forced two fumbles on Derby first-half kickoff returns. Javel Parker recovered the latter to set up Harmon’s fourth touchdown that made it 35-0 with 3:09 left in the half.
“I thought our kids took a step forward tonight,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. “We played really hard. I thought it was a physical game on both sides. There was some good hitting, which is good to see.”
All told the Chargers forced the Red Raiders into four first-half turnovers, including an interception by Jalen Johnson and a fumble recovery by Devin Coniff. Ansonia’s defense didn’t let up in the second half and preserved the shutout.
“Sometimes we’re not focused, but when we are focused that’s going to happen every time,” Johnson said. “We just have to come prepared, come to every practice prepared.”
Ansonia’s special teams also received a lift via Johnson’s 28-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.
Montgomery broke off a 50-yard run late in the second quarter, but the Red Raiders (2-4) drive stalled inside the Chargers’ 20.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Shykeem Harmon, Ansonia — The junior finished with 253 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
Derby defender Davon Wilson used some sleight-of-hand to come away with a strip while Ansonia quarterback Sheldon Schuler attempted a quick handoff to the fullback.
“It was a good old-old-fashioned game, move on to next week.” — Ansonia coach on his team’s 38-0 win over Derby.
ANSONIA 38, DERBY 0
ANSONIA 21 14 3 0—38
DERBY 0 0 0 0—0
A—Shykeem Harmon 43 run (Jalen Johnson kick)
A—Harmon 15 run (Johnson kick)
A—Harmon 66 run (Johnson kick)
A— Sheldon Schuler 8 run (Johnson kick)
A—Harmon 3 run (Johnson kick)
A—Johnson 28 Field Goal
Records: Ansonia 6-0; Derby 2-4