Defensive standout Ethan Philbrick runs off field after the Panthers stopped an Ansonia drive during a 46-7 win at Pierson Park on Dec. 5
Junior quarterback Cole Brisson took to the skies and delivered a championship-worthy performance during Cromwell/Portland’s 46-7 victory over Ansonia in the Class S semifinals on Dec. 5, advancing the Panthers to the Class S title.
Playing inside the friendly, picturesque confines of Pierson Park, Brisson threw for a career-high six touchdown passes, five going to Teddy ‘TD’ Williams, who hauled in a mind boggling 332 receiving yards. '
“We saw they were playing a lot of man defense on film and we knew as a team we could beat man,” said Brisson. “Our receivers were awesome today. They got open and I just had to get them the ball.”
Brisson found Williams for three scores and added a fourth to Emeka Yearwood in the first half as the Panthers took a commanding 26-0 lead into the break. The lefty field general continued to slice and dice the Chargers secondary in the second half, finishing with a 502 passing yards, also a career-high.
“Anytime we saw man-to-man this year, we’ve had really good days,” said C/P head coach Randell Bennett, “[Ansonia] stayed in that man all year long and we knew that would be the game plan. Our guys just had to make plays.”
Williams was the main benefactor of the single coverage, hauling in touchdown passes of 90, 21, 58, 26, and 64 yards. He also had a 72-yarder negated because of a holding penalty. William’s 332 receiving yards is the fourth highest single game total in the history of Connecticut High School football.
Interior lineman Ethan Philbrick powered a defense that limited a Chargers offense that entered the semifinals averaging 30 points per game.
“We had full confidence. We knew we had to play with more aggression than them. We needed that swagger that we had against Coginchaug and Morgan,” Philbrick said. “We played like we wanted to win and we did.”
The playoff win sets up a Class S championship game against Bloomfield. The title tilt will feature teams with identical records (12-0), who have each been thoroughly dominant on both sides of the ball. The Panthers have outscored their first dozen opponents by 377 points while the Warhawks from Bloomfield have outscored their dozen opponents by 408 points.
It will be the first game between the schools since the 2016 Class S quarterfinals when Bloomfield defeated a short-handed Panthers team 28-14.
Bennett knows it will be a challenge going up against the Warhawks, who will be playing in the Class S championship game for the third straight season. This year’s Warhawks feature a dynamic offensive backfield led by the prolific running back duo of Dallas Rose and Cornellius Patrick.
“I’m confident in our coaches to come up with a game plan to stop the things they want to do and we’ll see what we can do on offense on the other side. We’ll be ready,” stated Bennett.
Brisson added, “We just have to prepare like we did this week and we have to bring energy. I think we can beat anybody in the state no matter who it is.”
The championship bout is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 11 at Trumbull High School. Kickoff is 11 a.m.
Ten years ago, the Panthers fell to Holy Cross in the 2011 title game. They are looking to capture their first football state championship since they beat Ansonia, 14-12, in 2008.
Philbrick believes the team has the talent and the desire to bring a trophy back from Trumbull.
“It’s two undefeated teams in the state championship. It’s all about who wants it more,” said the 6’5” defensive tackle, “And I think we want it more.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin