By KYLE BRENNAN
ANSONIA – There are years in American history during which every good citizen knows what happened: 1776, 1865, 1941 and 2001 are a few. (Please stop reading and Google now if you’re unsure about any of those four.)
It’s like that for diehard Naugatuck football fans, too: 1981, 1993, 2001 and 2010 ring bells, right?
Add 2021 to the list for the Greyhounds faithful, who rejoiced Thanksgiving morning at Jarvis Stadium as Naugy beat Ansonia, 14-7, in one of the historic rivalry’s most significant upsets.
The reality is a double-edged sword. Those years are remembered for great victories over the Chargers, but they’re also locally iconic because triumphant-tasting turkey is rare for the garnet and grey.
After all, the win was Naugatuck’s first over Ansonia since a 38-20 victory in 2010 to clinch the Naugatuck Valley League championship. Before that, it was a 14-13 win in 2001 for another NVL crown, and a 22-0 shutout in 1993 en route to Naugy’s last state championship.
The Greyhounds are 8-41 against the Chargers since 1973 — but could the momentum be ready to turn in this series?
There are plenty of reasons to think so. Start with the coaching staff, which is the most accomplished group to lead the ’Hounds since Craig Peters retired after the 2000 season. Head coach Chris Anderson, defensive coordinator Chris Moffo and their assistants were masterful all season and never more so than on Thanksgiving.
Their ability to adjust to their relatively small team’s talents starting midway through the preseason all the way through the second half against Ansonia is the main reason Naugatuck ended its rival’s 104-game winning streak against NVL opposition. Second-half offensive adjustments, perfectly timed trickery and a dominant defensive game plan resulting in only 185 yards of Ansonia offense proved the staff’s championship pedigree.
Think, too, about the young talent wearing garnet and grey. Jett Hall, Mike Deitelbaum and Cayden Martin did all their work this year without any previous varsity experience, and they’re here to stay for awhile.
But equally as important in turning the tide might be Ansonia’s future. No team in Connecticut history surpasses what the Chargers have done — especially during Tom Brockett’s reign since 2006 — but is the dominance coming to an end?
Look at what has happened to Ansonia’s other ancient rival, Derby. Changing demographics and a quickly diminishing school population forced the Raiders to cancel the second half of this season. Looking at the Chargers’ sparse sideline on Thanksgiving, it’s reasonable to wonder if they’ll be similarly afflicted soon, too.
No matter what the future holds, though, one thing is certain: At future Thanksgiving tailgates on Millville or Wakeley avenues, this year’s victory now has its space in those just-name-the-year conversations.
Reach Kyle Brennan at firstname.lastname@example.org.