Don't try to sell Ansonia coach Tom Brockett on the idea that his team should start getting its fingers fitted for another state championship ring.
Ansonia's opponent in Saturday's Class S football final is too good to be dismissed as mere road-kill en route to a record 18th title.
Though the two programs rarely line up against each other, Brockett's known all about the Thunderbirds since this summer, thanks to a chance meeting with coach Mark Basil at a nearby Stop & Shop.
"It was a great chat we had that day," Brockett told a gathering of all eight state finalists at the CIAC's annual championship luncheon at Rentschler Field Monday. "He told me what a great senior class he had coming back. You could tell how proud and excited he was. After watching the film, Coach, you should be proud. He has a heck of a football team."
Ansonia (13-0) faces North Branford (12-0) in the Class S title game Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Rentschler Field.
"Don't worry about what league they play in," said Brockett, whose team won the Class M title a year ago and is vying for back-to-back, 14-win state championship seasons. "That's one of the best teams in the state of Connecticut."
Brockett won't have any problems selling that belief to his players. The Pequot Sassacus champions toppled Trinity Catholic and Woodland convincingly to reach their first state championship game since 2001.
"I remember that conversation with Coach Brockett," Basil said. "And back then, we knew Ansonia was going to be back in Class S. I talked to my guys about it. It doesn't get any better (than playing Ansonia). The tradition that comes from Ansonia is unmatched. We're excited for the challenge."
Among North Branford's 19 talented seniors is Basil's son, Brandan, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior who has thrown for over 2,700 yards and 40 touchdowns, mostly to fellow stars Joe DeLucia and Chris Caron. North Branford also has a solid tailback in Dylan Hausman, who has run for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns.
"It's going to be a really big challenge," Brockett said. "We haven't seen an offense like this since we played St. Joseph (in the 2010 Class S final) a couple years ago. They can hurt you in so many different ways, you have to find a way to slow them down."
Since the summer, North Branford knew any shot at bringing a title back to their small town would involve toppling the vaunted Chargers, who have won 27 consecutive games.
"Ansonia's an amazing football program," said Brandan Basil, rattling off the names of Ansonia stars as if they were stars on his favorite NFL team. "To win a state championship would be amazing. I wouldn't be able to describe it."
SCC! SCC! SCC!: A year ago, Southern Connecticut Conference won two of the CIAC's four state titles. With two defending champions still alive and Hillhouse playing to win its second title in three years, the league could conceivable get three after going 6-1 in the first two rounds. The CCC went 5-5 as a league and is represented by two finalists, Berlin and Windsor.
The ECC (3-2) is represented by NFA. The NVL (3-2) is represented by Ansonia. The Pequot went 3-3 and is represented by North Branford.
For the first time in the 36-year history of the CIAC football playoffs, the FCIAC does not have a team playing for a state championship.