By Ned Griffen
Special to CIACSports.com
Trumbull — The Cromwell/Portland crowd began serenading Teddy Williams with a repeated chant of “Teddy Ballgame” after Saturday’s CIAC Class S final.
As they should have.
Williams put on a sensational one-man show for the Panthers. He scored on a reception, an interception and one of his two fumble recoveries to lead second-seeded Cromwell/Portland past top-seeded Bloomfield, 21-6, at McDougall Field.
Williams had five catches for 97 yards and ran eight times for 63 yards for Cromwell/Portland (13-0).
“I don’t know what I’m going to do (without him),” Panthers head coach Randall Bennett quipped. “I’ll make another one I guess. Teddy’s a great player.”
It was the Panthers second state championship and they won at the same site where they won their first in 2008 (Class S). It capped off a terrific turnaround by the program after finishing 2-8 in 2019. The 2020 season was postponed due to the pandemic.
“You just have to work hard,” Williams said. “We were in the weight room all offseason (in 2020), all (during) COVID that whole year and we just got really big and strong and we were able to come around and dominate.
“It’s unbelievable. You would’ve never thought of a 180 (degree turnaround) like this.”
Cole Brisson completed 10 of 17 passes for 162 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Panthers and Alex Hair ran 18 times for 62 yards.
Jack Nolan added an interception for Cromwell/Portland and Emeka Yearwood and Jihad Blake-Singleton each had a sack.
Darrien Foster scored on a 16-yard run and completed 14 of 25 passes for 109 yards with two interceptions for the Warhawks (12-1). Robert Dunkley added seven catches for 73 yards, Dallas Rose ran 16 times for 65 yards and Jose Feliciano had an interception.
“A few guys got banged up a little early,” Bloomfield head coach Ty Outlow said, “We came out in the second half, and we felt like we got it together (but) Cromwell played a great game. They figured us out. We couldn’t punch it in in the red zone.”
The Panthers scored on the game’s first drive. They had second-and-12 from the Bloomfield 32 -yard line when Brisson threw across the middle to Ben Fagan.
Fagan fumbled just before reaching the goal line, but Williams recovered it in the end zone to give Cromwell/Portland a 7-0 lead just 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the game.
The Warhawks drove all the way to the Panthers’ 6 on their first drive before turning it over on downs.
Williams took a screen pass from Brisson on third-and-7 and zig-and-zagged for a 46-yard touchdown as Cromwell/Portland extended its lead to 14-0 with 9:13 left in the first half.
Bloomfield finally got on the board when Foster scrambled for a 16-yard touchdown with 3:28 left in the third quarter to cut the Panthers’ lead to 14-6. It went for two but the pass was dropped.
“If you told me before the season we would be going to the championship game, I would take it,” Outlow said. “These guys were all new (and we were) putting them in new positions. I’m proud of them that they got this far.”
The Warhawks went for it on fourth-and-17 at the Cromwell/Portland 37 to start the fourth quarter.
Yearwood came off the left edge and forced Foster to throw early. Williams picked off the pass and returned it for a 66-yard touchdown.
“I told him at halftime, ‘You’re not making enough plays,’” Bennett said about Williams. “Then he got the pick six and he runs back (to the sideline), and he looked at me and I’m like, ‘touché.’ … That’s kind of the way we push our players. Never be satisfied.”
Cromwell/Portland 7 7 0 7—21
Bloomfield 0 0 6 0—6
C/P — Teddy Williams recovered fumble in end zone (Allen Cohen kick)
C/P — Williams 46 pass from Cole Brisson (Cohen kick)
B — Darrien Foster 16 run (pass failed)
C/P — Williams 66 interception return (Cohen kick)
RUSHING— Cromwell/Portland, Alex Hair 18-62; Teddy Williams 8-63; Owen Brunk 2-4; Cole Brisson 2-(-7). Bloomfield, Dallas Rose 16-65, Conellius Patrick 6-53, Darrien Foster 3-6, Zyon Hymes 1-5.
PASSING— Cromwell/Portland, Cole Brisson 10-17-1-162. Bloomfield, Darrien Foster 14-25-2-109.
RECEIVING— Cromwell/Portland, Teddy Williams 5-97, Ben Fagan 2-43, Daevyon Lovelace 1-15, Owen Brunk 1-7, Emeka Yearwood 1-0. Bloomfield, Robert Dunkley 7-73, Trey Ortiz 6-34, Connellius Patrick 1-2.