Could this finally be the end?
Thursday night at Jarvis Stadium in Ansonia, the Chargers will put their 46-game winning streak on the line against Seymour. The Wildcats almost pulled a monumental upset last year against Ansonia but a pair of missed field goals by Frank Marcucio ended their hopes. But these guys are probably better than last year’s bunch, and the Chargers aren’t the same team — even without their nagging injuries.
So, is this the perfect storm? Can Seymour beat Ansonia for the first time since 2004? Here are the guys’ thoughts on the big ballgame. (By the way, this Game of the Week is presented by Blanchette Sporting Goods.)
Remmy’s Keys to the Game: This could quite possibly be the best game in the NVL thus far. What we’re hearing is Ansonia QB Jai’Quan McKnight will play while RB Tajik Bagley’s now looks like he will play after getting reps in practice today. If for some reason Bagley doesn’t play, that means Tyler Bailey will be seeing action at RB and it also means Ansonia doesn’t have a gamebreaker split out wide. This allows the Wildcats to focus on what Ansonia is doing with its run game because the real threats will not sit at the WR position. I think Bagley is a huge loss for Ansonia. Seymour has a solid defensive front, so this matchup will be key. Everyone knows about what Seymour almost pulled off last season by forcing many turnovers. However, I don’t think last year’s game will have any impact on this year’s game. The weather and field conditions should be good, so they shouldn’t play a big factor this week. Assuming everyone on both teams is healthy, I think Seymour will need to force at least two turnovers and capitalize off of them to beat the Chargers. But with Bagley out, Seymour’s got a shot. Again, Seymour’s defensive front will have to play a great game and confuse an Ansonia offensive line that has not had much time playing together. With a more experienced Seymour line, as opposed to Ansonia’s, I think the ‘Cats have a slight chance in pulling the upset.
Kyle’s Keys to the Game: I’ll chat with Ansonia coach Tom Brockett on Wednesday to get an update on the Chargers’ injuries — or at least as much of one as he’ll let on — but my gut feeling is that Jai’Quan McKnight will pretty much play as normal while Tajik Bagley will either be limited or have to sit out. While Ansonia is certainly better with Bagley on the field, I don’t think his loss is irreplaceable or impossible to overcome. Tyler Bailey is a capable runner and similar to Bagley. Let’s not forget: Bagley isn’t Arkeel Newsome. Bagley isn’t as tough to bring down and he doesn’t have the blistering speed, so Bailey and Armanni Rivera can team up to replace him. Of course, McKnight will be called upon to increase his role. That does leave open the possibility for turnovers, especially if he airs it out. I’ve never been overly impressed with his deep ball — it’s usually been the result of a one-on-one matchup exploited from the running game and has a little more than a 50-50 chance of completion on a jump ball — and I expect that Joey Salemme will be the main matchup guy in Seymour’s secondary. So while Ansonia’s offense might be in a bit of a flux state, Seymour’s offense is a pretty known quantity. Salemme will be the guy, with perhaps a few screens thrown in here and there. Ansonia won’t let him go for 200 yards, but I don’t think Seymour will give up end-to-end scores on the other side. I see a whole lot of defense in this game for a change. Which defensive front can confuse the other’s offensive line? That could be the biggest key of the whole game because athlete for athlete, these teams are very similarly matched up. Also, look out for special teams. Onside kicks killed Ansonia in this game last year. I wouldn’t be shocked to see one go the other way.