Entering this season, most pundits predicated that Seymour’s clash with Valley rival Ansonia would be the game of the year in the Naugatuck Valley League.
It very well may still may be, but only Ansonia enters Thursday’s contest against the Wildcats unbeaten.
Seymour (5-1) was on the losing end of a 33-30 decision to Wolcott on Oct. 7.
“I would have liked to have played better,” Seymour coach Tom Lennon about the Wolcott game. “Some of the hype and other things led people to believe that it was a bigger upset than it was. Credit Wolcott. I see them being 9-1 and having a home game for the (Class M) playoffs.”
Ansonia (6-0) defeated Wolcott 62-21 in this season’s opener. The Chargers and Seymour square off on Thursday at 6 p.m. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased in the main office at either high school Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Prices are $5 for adults, $3 for high school students and $2 for senior citizens.
Ansonia is led by junior running back Markell Dobbs and a big and physical offensive line.
“It’s the same challenges they always are,” Lennon said about Ansonia. “They play an old school brand of smash mouth Valley football. They are big up front and have a talented running back, it’s like a broken record when it comes to them.”
Seymour and Ansonia were tied at 14 at halftime last season before the Chargers dominated the second half en route to a 35-14 victory. The two have played several close games in recent years, although the Wildcats have not defeated Ansonia since 2004.
Despite that, Lennon said his team will be ready.
“I believe our kids are not going to be intimidated by the name on the helmet,” Lennon said. “It’s going to be a matter of who comes out and plays the best on Thursday night.”
Since the Wolcott loss, it’s been back to being business as usual for Seymour. The Wildcats defeated Kennedy 48-7 on Oct. 14, which marked the 400th victory in program history, and then Seymour blanked Derby 42-0 this past weekend.
The Wildcats, who went 10-2 and advanced to the Class S state semifinals last season, returned one of the state’s best players in multi-threat quarterback Jaylen Kelley. Kelley has completed 43 of 69 passes for 1,061 yards and 17 touchdowns against just one interception. He’s also rushed 85 times for 653 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“The offense starts with Jaylen,” Lennon said. “He’s been doing great for us this year.”
Junior Bobby Melms has rushed 42 times for 428 yards and eight touchdowns. Melms has added 11 receptions for 164 yards and two scores.
“Bobby Melms has developed into an excellent counterpart,” Lennon said.
Senior Alex Massie leads the team with 15 catches for 392 yards and seven touchdowns. Seniors Jake LaRovera and Lucas Bowen have combined to make 12 catches, while junior Ryan Keough and sophomores Cade Klarides-Ditria and Ian Sadick have also contributed either at receiver or out of the backfield.
“The receiving corps has shown improvement week in and week out,” Lennon said. “They have gotten better and better.”
Seymour graduated two standout receivers in Mike Burns and Jake Bleau.
“Jaylen has picked up where he left off,” Lennon said. “But, without them (Burns and Bleau) this year, Jaylen’s had to pick up the slack and spread the ball around a little more. He’s had to develop a little more in the passing game.”
Bowen (56 tackles), senior Charlie Ritchel (55 tackles) and senior Trajan Lounsbury (47 tackles) lead the Seymour defense.
“The defense has been solid,” Lennon said. “In years past, we’ve had some big names on defense. Now, we just have 11 role players. Across the board what we preach is just 11 guys doing their job.”