Ansonia quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight has never lost a game with the Chargers. He and his team will try to tie Cheshire’s all-time winning streak Friday at Newtown. (Credit: GWImages)
It’s finally time for the game for which everybody has been waiting. It’s Ansonia’s chance to take its place in Connecticut high school football history. Win, and Cheshire’s 49-game winning streak in the 1990s will no longer stand alone. Newtown, the only ranked team on the Chargers’ schedule since 2010, will try to prevent it.
This Game of the Week is presented by Blanchette Sporting Goods.
Remmy’s Keys to the Game: Newtown is a very sound team that has some studs and runs an offense that doesn’t rely on just one of its superstars to get things done. The QB, Jacob Burden, is a first-year starter and has many weapons at his disposal. His offense has shown it can rely on its rushing attack to win games. It’s a bit easier to run the ball effectively with a massive offensive line. The Nighthawks have played in a few games where things have been shaky. However, they were able to correct the issues and put each of those games away. We’ve seen how effective Ansonia’s defensive front is against the run versus NVL teams. But this week will be true test for that defense due to Newtown’s size up front. I think Newtown’s size on the offensive line could help or really hurt it come Friday. Ansonia’s guys aren’t as big, but they are very fast, relentless and blow up many plays in the backfield. If Newtown’s line is able to wear down Ansonia’s defense, it’ll be a long night for the Chargers and it’ll give Newtown the opportunity to control the clock and keep Ansonia’s offense off of the field. The Nighthawks may very well rely on their wide receivers to make plays and win this game for them. But my guess is Newtown will try to establish the run before going to its wideouts and will try to wear Ansonia down. This could really hurt Ansonia as most of its guys play both ways. Being that the Nighthawks are fairly balanced, it will be interesting to see how Ansonia lines up on defense. Ansonia usually has the athletes to be able to cover WRs one-on-one but that’s going to be tough with a target like WR Julian Dunn and two other solid receivers on the field for Newtown. I believe Ansonia will take its chances and start the game playing man coverage and will try to shut down Newtown’s run game with an extra safety in the box. This will also allow Ansonia to get pressure on Burden and may lead to Newtown calling quick pass plays (fades to Dunn and quick drags over the middle just behind blitzing LBs). Being able to force turnovers by pressuring the first-year QB will be on the minds of that defensive front. As for the Ansonia offense, McKnight will have to play a hell of a game. I think it’s great that Tajik Bagley is relatively healthy for this game as it allows Ansonia to call more of a variety of plays on offense and makes for a more exciting game in general. Spreading out Tyler Bailey wide will take one or two guys out of the box and will allow McKnight and Bagley to play off of each other. Newtown will try and make sure Bailey and Bagley don’t get theirs, though. But that opens things up for McKnight, big time. Ansonia loves to run power and if Newtown’s defensive ends crash down and safeties cheat, expect McKnight to run wild on QB keeps and hit Witold Gul on some big passes for scores as well. I think that’s how the game will be won.
Kyle’s Keys to the Game: Remmy with some solid analysis so I don’t know how much more I have to add to all of that. I will put out a couple of points I’ve been talking about through the weekend and leading up to this game. I think the first quarter will be absolutely critical, particularly for Newtown. Can the Nighthawks handle Ansonia’s speed? It won’t take long to figure that out. If Newtown shows its ability to stick around and keep hitting in the second half, how will the Chargers react? They’ve only been in that situation once, and they got lucky to escape with a win in the face of six mistakes. Newtown is more multi-dimensional than Ansonia on offense, but the Nighthawks cannot turn over the ball. Jacob Burden will only be in his sixth start at quarterback and has thrown three interceptions this year. The Chargers’ secondary will be the most talented one he’s seen so far. Ansonia is always aggressive in the secondary, usually playing press coverage with a high safety. With multiple All-State-caliber wide receivers in Julian Dunn and Troy Frangione, the Chargers will have to mix coverages. I wonder, too, what kind of pressure Ansonia will try to bring against a Newtown offensive line that averages 6-foot-1, 264 pounds. The other thing for Newtown is that sound tackling is a must. There are so many teams that lose to Ansonia for no simpler reason than the fact that they can’t make the first tackle a yard or two off the line of scrimmage. Newtown’s linebackers are very talented, and with a group of big men up front, they stand a chance against Ansonia’s triple-headed offense. Still, though, the speed adjustment will be something for which the Nighthawks can’t really prepare.
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