ANSONIA >> Although Ansonia has loftier goals — like winning a 20th CIAC state title — the Chargers still look forward to playing on Thanksgiving morning against rival Naugatuck. Despite the once-fierce rivalry being rather lop-sided in recent years, Ansonia-Naugatuck is still one of the bigger treats on the Thanksgiving week schedule.
Ansonia senior quarterback Bryson Cafaro and junior running back Markell Dobbs both couldn’t wait to suit up and step on the field against their neighbors to the north. Cafaro and Dobbs ended up playing vital roles for Ansonia in a 44-0 rout of the Greyhounds Thursday at Nolan Field.
The win capped an unbeaten season for the Chargers (10-0), who will be the No. 2 seed for the upcoming Class S state playoffs. Ansonia, ranked No. 8 in the Register Top 10 Poll, will host a quarterfinal round contest against No. 7 Stafford/East Windsor/Somers on Tuesday.
Cafaro completed 5 of 8 passes for 82 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Rowley. Cafaro and Dobbs were both selected as a game MVP for the Chargers.
“Naugatuck is always a big game every year,” Cafaro said. “A lot of people come and look forward to it. When you’re younger, that’s the big game. Everyone talks about it, a lot of alumni come back, and you just want to play and get the win.”
Dobbs echoed Cafaro’s sentiment.
“It definitely feels good,” Dobbs said. “I grew up my whole life watching this game, and my dream was to play in one in high school.”
Ansonia now holds a 72-35-11 series lead against the Greyhounds. The loss denied Naugatuck (7-3) a playoff berth in Class L.
“They had playoff hopes, so I knew we had to come out and play because I knew they were going to bring the energy, too,” Dobbs said.
Dobbs intercepted a Mike Plasky pass on the third play of the game and then it took the Chargers just three plays to take the lead for good when junior Justin Lopez scored on a 22-yard run with 10:58 left in the first quarter. Ansonia took a 9-0 lead after a Naugatuck lateral was fumbled and went out of the end zone for a safety.
“When you get beat in this manner, it’s not broken down to one play or two plays,” Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno said. “It was a difficult game. They had a really good team and we have to play a lot better to get there.”
Dobbs scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 39 yards to give the Chargers a 23-0 lead after one quarter. Dobbs finished with 160 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries — all in the first half. Dobbs recorded his second interception of the game in the second quarter. Dobbs, known for his offensive prowess, admitted he “kind of likes defense better than offense”.
“It definitely feels nice (to get two interceptions),” Dobbs said. “Coach (Tom Brockett) moved me from safety to corner during the week and he said ‘I trust you to guard him (Naugatuck receiver Jalen Datil)’ and he was like ‘He’s a fast kid.’ He is a fast kid. I just had to play aggressive.”
Cafaro’s touchdown pass to Rowley came in the second quarter. Malcolm Martin scored on a 15-yard run and Lopez on a 3-yard run, also in the quarter, as Ansonia led 44-0 at halftime. Junior Cody Teodosio made two receptions for 65 yards. Both catches brought the ball close to the goal line and the Chargers ended up scoring after each one.
“Anybody on the offense can score,” Cafaro said. “Cody even had a couple of chances to score, but he didn’t get in. That just shows how balanced we are and you can’t just key on one player.”
ANSONIA 44, NAUGATUCK 0
Naugatuck – 0 0 0 0 – 0
Ansonia – 23 21 0 0 – 44
Ansonia – Justin Lopez 22 run (Bryson Cafaro kick)
Ansonia – Safety
Ansonia – Markell Dobbs 1 run (Cafaro kick)
Ansonia – Dobbs 39 run (Cafaro kick)
Ansonia – Chris Rowley 7 pass from Cafaro (Cafaro kick)
Ansonia – Malcolm Martin 15 run (Cafaro kick)
Ansonia – Lopez 3 run (Cafaro kick)