Ansonia, meet Woodland. Woodland, meet Ansonia. Oh, you already know each other? OK then.
The Naugatuck Valley League’s two best teams have outlasted everyone else in Class S and will meet Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University’s Arute Field for a state championship. It will be the Chargers’ fourth straight trip to a state final and Woodland’s first since 2005.
No. 2 Ansonia (14-0) didn’t have many issues in a 49-27 win over No. 3 Rocky Hill. Arkeel Newsome ran 36 times for 269 yards and five touchdowns while the Chargers’ defense held Chris Young to 137 yards and two scores on 20 carries. Ansonia never trailed in the game and pulled away from an early 7-7 tie to take a 34-7 halftime advantage. Jai’Quan McKnight returned from his ankle injury and threw a pair of touchdown passes.
Here are Remmy’s highlights from the game:
No. 4 Woodland (12-2) never trailed in a 30-26 victory over No. 8 Bloomfield but had to grit out the win in a back-and-forth second half. The Hawks started the game without Sean McAllen (concussion) and lost his replacement Coby Vaccarelli to a knee injury late in the first half. Vaccarelli’s injury allowed Bloomfield to turn an 18-0 deficit into an 18-14 game early in the third quarter.
The Warhawks actually dropped out all their linebackers often in the second half until the Hawks used wide receiver Taylor Tucciarone as a running back. He loosened up the defense enough for Woodland to score twice in the second half — a 2-yard sneak by Tanner Kingsley and a 12-yard touchdown pass from Kingsley to Joe Poeta. That scoring toss was Kingsley’s fourth of the game and 113th of his career, which set a state record. It also put Woodland ahead 30-20, and Poeta picked off Norvel Stewart to end the game with 46 seconds to play.
You can take a listen to Kyle’s calls of Poeta’s two game-breaking plays as heard on 1320 WATR.
Woodland and Ansonia drew the Friday night game at CCSU, which will give us plenty of time to tailgate that afternoon. We’ll have more information on that as the week goes on. We’ll also be previewing the game on Monday or Tuesday, so stay tuned for that.
As for Saturday’s three finals? In Class LL, it will be No. 4 Southington against No. 7 Fairfield Prep at 6:05 p.m.; in Class L, No. 1 Darien and No. 3 New Canaan will meet at 2:05 p.m. in a rematch of their Thanksgiving game, which the Blue Wave won in an upset; and in Class M, No. 2 St. Joseph will pit its offensive juggernaut against No. 5 Brookfield at 10:05 a.m. For anybody who wants to know more about how those other semifinals went, our pal Ned Griffen summarized and linked out to stories from all of them.