Ansonia senior quarterback Bryson Cafaro saved, perhaps, his best performance for last.
Cafaro played an integral role in leading the Chargers to a 28-21 victory over Rocky Hill in the Class S state championship game. It was the 20th title for Ansonia, which finished unbeaten at 13-0.
It was the second straight title game that Cafaro got the start at quarterback. The Chargers lost to Bloomfield in the Class S final last season.
“I learned a leadership role,” Cafaro said. “I learned from the players last year, mostly the offensive line. They told me after the game (against Bloomfield) that we would be back and that we had to win (this) year. They said it’s going to change your life, and that you’re going to be talking about it the rest of your life. It hasn’t really sunk in, but it’s amazing.”
Cafaro completed just 2 of 12 passes for 38 yards against Rocky Hill, but one of those completions was a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior Jake Butler that gave Ansonia the lead for good with 9:22 remaining. Cafaro was a victim of two dropped passes, both likely touchdowns. The biggest impact Cafaro had was running the ball. He rushed eight times for 77 yards and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Chargers up 28-14 with 6:07 left. Cafaro also ran in a conversion and tossed a conversion pass to junior Cody Teodosio.
“He was awesome,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. “He kept playing. The breaks weren’t going our way, and they haven’t gone our way the last two years up here (at New Britain’s Willow Park, where Ansonia also lost to Bloomfield). The kids, they keep fighting, and not hang their heads, and kept battling knowing that break was coming, you could feel it. They kept fighting. It’s such a tribute to those kids.”
Coming into the title game, Cafaro had run the ball just 14 times, with two going for touchdowns. Cafaro, who signed to play baseball at Fairfield, also recovered a fumble on defense.
“We used him a little bit,” Brockett said. “He was a little banged up during the year, but he most certainly is an unbelievable talent. Played with unbelievable heart and desire. The performance he played today, first time in his career to play both ways and to step up that way, unbelievable job by him. He’s going to go down as one of the Ansonia greats for brining this title back today.”
Ansonia junior running back Markell Dobbs ran 34 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns against Rocky Hill. Dobbs finished with 2,404 yards and 32 touchdowns in his first season as his team’s starting tailback.
“Tremendous,” Brockett said. “What am I going to say about him? He was awesome. For that kid to improve like that where he was and become one of the marquee players in the state of Connecticut, I don’t know.”
New Canaan won its fourth straight state title, and 12th overall, with a 35-20 victory over previously unbeaten Windsor in Class L.
New Canaan was playing in the final for the 10th time in 11 seasons. The Rams haven’t lost to a team other than Darien since the 2012 Class L semifinals vs. Windsor. New Canaan’s only loss this year was to Class LL champ Darien in the regular-season finale.
“You know what’s special about it?”, New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “It’s special for these seniors. Back in spring practice when I said ‘hey, what’s going to be your legacy as seniors?’. I’m thinking in the back of my mind ‘how could they ever match what they did last year?’. Sure enough, here we are and we’re lucky enough to win it again against a very good Windsor team.”
New Canaan took a quick 14-0 lead before Windsor tied the game. The Rams then scored the game’s next 21 points.
“For our kids to hang in there like that,” Marinelli said. “They never gave up. I’m just very proud.”
New Canaan tallied 364 yards of total offense. Windsor had allowed just 76 points entering the state final.
“We felt like we were a little bit bigger up front,” Marinelli said. “I think that helped us. I just think up front we were bigger. I think we wore them down a little bit.”