Week 6: No. 4 Ansonia at No. 5 Newtown, Friday, 7 p.m.
ANSONIA >> Despite the graduation of Arkeel Newsome, the state’s all-time leading rusher, and most of its talented offensive line, the Ansonia football team is still on the brink of history.
The fourth-ranked Chargers will attempt to tie Cheshire’s state record of 49 consecutive wins when they visit No. 5 Newtown on Friday night at 7 at Blue and Gold Stadium. Both teams are 5-0 this season.
The Chargers’ most recent loss came against St. Joseph in the Class S state championship game in 2010, a year before any of the current Ansonia players entered high school.
Not one Charger has experienced the bitter taste of defeat during their varsity careers.
“That’s a great accomplishment,” Ansonia senior lineman Larry Cafaro said. “We take pride in that every day, every time we go to practice and every time we take the field. We take great pride in defending our streak.”
During this remarkable run Ansonia has won 48 straight games, three straight Naugatuck Valley League titles and three consecutive state championships.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. “The thing is, so few of our kids started the past few years. It’s a brand new group of kids. Now it’s their chance to really go out and earn it and continue to add to it.”
With Newsome no longer in the backfield, and a rebuilt offensive line, the Chargers have relied on the steady leadership of senior quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight, who piloted Ansonia to each of its last three state championships.
“We lost a lot of kids that have graduated,” Brockett said. “We have some back, obviously what Jai’Quan has done as the quarterback for this football program is remarkable. He’s started a lot of football games.”
Cafaro, who was a tight end last season, senior receiver Witold Gul and senior Tyler O’Connell, the only returning starter on the offensive line, all saw significant action last season.
But there’s a host of others who are first-time starters. Despite some inexperience, Ansonia is progressing as Brockett expected.
“I think a lot of them waited a long time for their chance to play Ansonia football,” Brockett said. “I think we’re a much better football team now than we were in Week 1, which is a tribute to them.”
While the Chargers dealt with the growing pains, Cafaro admitted the streak has been discussed only sparingly, and that it hasn’t been much of a distraction.
“I think our seniors, and the rest of the team, take one game at a time, game by game,” Cafaro said. “We worry about what we have to do each game. We don’t really focus too much on outside distractions.”
But as the Newtown game drew nearer, McKnight acknowledged the coaches have mentioned the streak with more frequency. McKnight said breaking Cheshire’s record would be meaningful, but it’s not the only goal they hope to accomplish by season’s end.
“It’s a goal to break, but not a long-term goal,” McKnight said. “Our long-term goal is to get to the state championship game every year, compete and win the state championship.”
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