By Dave Ruden
His team’s staggering offensive performance Tuesday night made St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia feel like he was suffering from whiplash.
“My neck hurt from going back and forth,” Della Vecchia joked, a little more than 12 hours after the Cadets’ stunning 84-49 win over Ledyard in a CIAC Class M quarterfinal game. “It was like, ‘When’s it going to stop?’ It was like watching a 7 on 7 game.”
The victory propelled the No. 2-seeded Cadets (11-2) into the semifinals. They will meet third-seeded Joel Barlow Saturday afternoon at 2 at Bunnell High School.
The teams set a record for most points in a game in state history. On a night when Ansonia’s Arkeel Newsome rushed for 492 yards, Darien advanced over Daniel Hand in Class L on a last-second field goal, and 8th-seeded Ridgefield survived a late rally to upset top-seeded Newtown in Class LL, the St. Joseph-Ledyard game captivated fans across the state as word of the offensive fireworks exploded on social media.
“I just didn’t think they were going to stop us,” Della Vecchia said. “We were just doing what we wanted to do on offense. They were too in the first half. I think we wore them down.”
Ledyard kept pace in the early going. The teams opened by trading five touchdowns apiece, and the Cadets led at the end of the first quarter, 28-21, and 47-35 at halftime. St. Joseph, led by Mufasha Abdul-Basir’s 323-yard, 5-touchdown rushing performance, finished with 808 yards of total offense and scored on its final nine drives. Shane Miller ended up rushing for 200 yards – on just five carries.
The Cadets’ output was a total their basketball team would call a good night. The school’s basketball coach, Chris Watts, was on the sideline for the game.
“They had just scored and it was 41-35 and he said just keep scoring,” Della Vecchia said. “I said I was going to show him how to run fast breaks. One of my coaches asked him to help with our boxing out.”
Della Vecchia said his players may need a little extra rest today, but didn’t expect the preparation for Saturday’s game to alter his normal routine.
“We have a real tough opponent in Barlow to prepare for,” Della Vecchia said. “It’s a different mindset, a different game. I don’t think the score of the game matters. We are going to work and try and get better.”