Chargers run past injury-ravaged Greyhounds

Naugatuck’s Jason Spino (9) runs past Ansonia’s Nashawn Washington (54) for a first down during their annual Thanksgiving Day game Nov. 28 at Naugatuck High School. -JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — The 120th meeting between Naugatuck and Ansonia on the gridiron was all Chargers.

While the Chargers had their way against the Greyhounds in just about every way possible Thanksgiving morning during their 52-8 victory, Ansonia was particularly dominant when it went to its “hammer offensive formation.”

The formation, which features receivers flanking the offensive linemen in a tight set and the halfbacks lined up as wings a yard behind them, lends itself to both misdirection and physical play at the point of attack.

“It is a little change-up,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. “It is a little something different that you have to prepare for. From our perspective, I think it suits our bodies. We have some physical kids in there, and an offense like that starts to wear on people sometimes.”

The offense seems perfectly suited for senior star running back Shykeem Harmon, because he has both great cutting ability and impressive burst of speed off his cuts.

Harmon rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns on just 13 carries as the Chargers ran out to a 46-0 halftime lead and didn’t play their starters in the second half.

The Chargers held Naugatuck (5-5) to 64 yards of total offense with 21 yards rushing and 62 passing, minus 19 yards for a pair of sacks. Ansonia scored six unanswered touchdowns before the Greyhounds got on the board with a 16-yard touchdown run from Paul Marsh late in the third quarter.

Naugatuck quarterback Jay Mezzo completed five of 15 passes for 62 yards and was intercepted twice. Marsh had three catches for 50 yards.

Naugatuck started 5-0 before losing five straight to finish an injury-ravaged season.

“I really feel bad and hurt for the seniors who got injured and aren’t able to play their final year of high school,” Naugy coach Dave Sollazzo said before the Thanksgiving game. “It’s a tough pill to swallow to see great kids like Jeff Schebell, Malachi Gatison and Josh Lastra not be able to play.”

In Schebell, the Greyhounds lost their most reliable receiver and defensive back in the midst of his best season. Marsh and Isaiah Williams, seniors who also play receiver and defensive back, were used sparingly down the stretch.

Gatison was Naugy’s top running back and a real force defensively at linebacker. Lastra’s absence was a big loss to the offensive line, and the Greyhounds’ options for experienced linemen dwindled as juniors Matt Munno and Charlie Sinotte were lost to injuries and one of the team’s best overall players, Herve Tshibamba, also played sparingly due to injuries.