St. Paul football faces big test in undefeated Ansonia

St. Paul football’s players and coaches were working hard during practice late in the afternoon on Monday at the school on Maltby Street.
The hard work was for a real good reason.
The Falcons (4-1), winners of four straight games, have as tough an assignment as any Naugatuck Valley League team can face this Thursday at 6 p.m.
St. Paul hosts Ansonia, perennial NVL power and state title contender. The Chargers enter the game undefeated at 5-0 and sitting just outside the state writers’ Top 10 at No. 11 in the latest poll.
What has Ansonia done so far?
Well, the Chargers have won by scores of 62-21, 44-0, 34-7, 50-0 and 44-8 over Wolcott, Waterbury Career Academy, Oxford, Torrington and Kennedy. Ansonia averages 46.8 points per game, and the average margin of victory is 39.6 points.
Pretty dominant stuff from the Chargers.
On offense, not too many surprises. Ansonia wants to run the football, and is once again doing so very effectively. Junior Markell Dobbs gets the bulk of the carries, and often times he’s being led by punishing senior fullback Malcolm Martin. Dobbs is already over 1,000 yards this season, and he’s just another in a line of shifty, speedy running backs in the Charger backfield. Of course, he couldn’t do it without a strong offensive line, and Ansonia has a good one.
The Chargers will put the ball up in the air every once in a while, and senior Bryson Cafaro is pretty accurate when he does so.
It’s a lot to work on for St. Paul, so it was no surprise to see the Falcons working with their first-team defense against the scout team at Monday’s practice. Head coach Jude Kelly always talks about getting reps, and his Falcons need as many as they can get to figure out the Chargers.
Here are a few keys for St. Paul for Thursday’s test:

Control the ball
The Ansonia offense can’t get going without the ball. St. Paul’s best bet is to control the ball, which will eat up yards and the clock.

Make good decisions, no turnovers
The Falcons need to be decisive in what they do, and they also need to hang onto the football. The Chargers feed off of mistakes, so the best thing to do would be to avoid them. Easier said than done, of course, but St. Paul needs to in this game.

Offensive line play
St. Paul’s offensive line of Dominic Aiello, Devon Dawson, Eric Langland, Jared Morrissey and Dylan Gagnon must stand up to the pressure that Ansonia will no doubt unleash. The Chargers have always been an aggressive bunch on defense, so expect nothing different on Thursday. St. Paul’s line has been great, but this is a huge test.

Field position
St. Paul doesn’t want to give Ansonia short fields, and the Falcons need to take advantage of any opportunities they may get.

Avoid too many big plays
It’s Ansonia, so it would be difficult to say no big plays. The Chargers are likely to get one at some point, be it a long run from Dobbs or a kick return. St. Paul needs to make sure Ansonia doesn’t get too many big plays. If the Chargers do, it will be a long night for the Falcons.

Keep it close
Ansonia has made a living out of getting out to big leads. St. Paul can’t let that happen, especially with its wishbone offense. The wishbone is based on precision, and it takes time to move the ball down the field. St. Paul needs to keep the game close and keep the home crowd in it.