Cassetti, Ansonia look to break four-season CIAC football championship drought against Bloomfield

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Ansonia's David Cassetti runs the ball during a football game between Ansonia and Holy Cross at Municipal Stadium, Waterbury on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Ansonia's David Cassetti runs the ball during a football game between Ansonia and Holy Cross at Municipal Stadium, Waterbury on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.

Pete Paguaga/Hearst Connecticut

Ansonia is the state’s all-time leader in official, CIAC football championships. The 20 championship plaques at the high school are five more than second place St. Joseph’s 15. 

That includes the four titles Ansonia has won over the last 10 years, more than anyone else this decade with the exception of St. Joseph’s six.

But by Ansonia standards, this is a legitimate playoff drought. 

It’s been four seasons — not including 2020’s lost Covid year — since the Chargers last won a state championship, 2016’s 28-21 Class S title victory over Rocky Hill. 

The four-year stretch without hoisting a trophy matches the four seasons between championships in 1989 and 1994 as the second-longest Ansonia title drought since the CIAC began holding playoffs in 1976. 

The longest Ansonia has gone without winning a state championship is the six-season span between 1995 and 2002.

Naturally, they’re getting a little antsy in title town — perhaps no one more than senior back David Cassetti Jr.

Cassetti has long been teased by his father, Ansonia mayor David Sr., who boasts of two boxing titles, and by older brother Anthony Cassetti, who won a pair of titles at Woodland.

Now, David is one Saturday morning victory over Bloomfield from ending the — admittedly good natured — jokes for good. “My brother has two titles, my dad has two titles… they mention it a lot,” said David Jr., a 5-foot 10, 205-pound senior who has run for over 1,800 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns this year. “Especially last year when we were playing in the finals, they were like, you can get two titles, as well.”

But it didn’t happen. Cromwell/Portland handed Ansonia a 46-7 loss in the semis. It was the worst Ansonia playoff loss since 1999.

No worries, that loss — along with their Thanksgiving loss to Naugatuck — merely motivated this group to produce a 10-0 unbeaten regular season this year. 

Completing the school’s first unbeaten championship season since 2016 and ending his career a state champ will be enough for the Cassetti family and Ansonia. “They’ll be really proud of me if we win,” Cassetti said. 

Ansonia coach Tom Brockett is looking to win his seventh CIAC championship, which would tie him with his predecessor, the late, great Jack Hunt, who lorded over the program between 1987 and 2005.

With 192 victories (against just 15 losses) as Ansonia’s head coach since 2006, Brockett can also tie Hunt’s school record of 193 with a victory in Saturday’s final. 

But Brockett is more concerned with getting this group of players a title. “For me to bring these guys here, it’s really special,” he said. “These are new kids who have never experienced this and they’ve earned it. 

Indeed, Ansonia has needed to rally back from deficits in five of its games this year, something Cassetti attributes to the relationship with his teammates. 

“It’s the bond we have,” Cassetti said. “We all play together really well. We have a very different bond. We gel together on the field, probably better than many other teams. The heart we have… We just think we’re going to win.

“We need to keep our heads high, stay focused and not let one bad play ruin the game for us.”

This will be the seventh time Ansonia and Bloomfield have played for a state championship, beginning with Hunt's two titles vs. then-Bloomfield coach Jack Cochran in 1994 and 1995, and Cochran's two titles at Hunt's expense in 1998 and 1999. The programs are tied with three titles apiece. 

Overall, Bloomfield holds a 4-3 lead in playoff meetings. The Warhawks defeated Ansonia 26-19 in the 2018 Class S semifinals. That game remains the only non-championship playoff meeting.

Bloomfield, which is playing in a fourth-straight final and looking for its first title since 2018, defeated Ansonia 31-20 in their last championship meeting. Ansonia’s last title win over Bloomfield was 34-12 in 2006, Brockett’s first year as coach.

“Whether we play them or not, you always have to have an eye on Bloomfield,” Brockett said. “This might be the fastest team they’ve ever had. Defensively, they run to the ball tremendously. Offensively, there are so many different guys who can really hurt you.”

These Chargers, Brockett said, are more than ready for the challenge Saturday.

“They’ve worked real, real hard,” Brockett said. “This is a real, real determined group. It’s probably the most resilient group I’ve ever had and they’ve been an absolute pleasure to coach.”

Pete Paguaga contributed to this story