Newtown High School’s football team shook off some early mistakes to pull away for a 35-0 triumph over visiting Stratford at Blue & Gold Stadium on November 8. Jaret DeVellis scored two touchdowns, recovered a fumble, and recorded a quarterback sack to help the Nighthawks remain unbeaten at 9-0.
The Nighthawks, after fumbling three times — retaining possession on two of those drops — finally got things going and broke the scoreless tie on a seven-yard Jared Pearson TD run for a 7-0 lead with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. Stratford, which fell to 3-6 overall, allowed only one more first-half score, a six-yard scamper by quarterback Drew Tarantino on fourth down and one with 6:22 to play before the break. The score was set up by a Ryan Shaw fumble recovery. Ethan Carpenter made an interception to help preserve the 13-0 lead going into the intermission.
An early-third quarter fumble recovery by DeVellis on the Stratford 32 led to his first score, a six-yard run for pay dirt. The quick drive featured a trio of DeVellis runs and a pair of Stratford penalties. DeVellis ran in the two-point conversion for a 21-0 cushion.
Newtown answered a Stratford fumble recovery with a forced turnover of its own when Julian Dunn picked off a Stratford pass at the NHS 20. The Nighthawks were forced to punt but got the ball back immediately when Jimmy Leidlein recovered a botched return at the Stratford 43. A pair of Tarantino-to-Dunn completions set up another DeVellis score. The junior running back made a couple of nice cuts en route to the end zone, giving the Hawks a 28-0 lead with 2:40 to go in the third. The Hawks added another score in the fourth when Tarantino connected with Dunn on a 22-yarder.
Newtown standout running back Cooper Gold left the game for precautionary reasons after getting banged up on a first-half collision. That gave DeVellis, who typically plays a bulk of the time on the defensive side of the ball, a chance to get some carries and he took advantage of the opportunity.
“Sad to see Coop — one of our stars — go down,” DeVellis said. “I had to step up and I’m glad I could help the team out.”
Newtown Coach Steve George praised the defensive effort, particularly the run-stopping prowess of Tim Krapf and Josh Krapf.
The coach wasn’t happy with his team’s first-half miscues, but was pleased to see his team play well in the third and fourth quarters.
“It was not our best outing but I’m happy the seniors got the win tonight,” George said.
It was, after all, Senior Night. Among the final-year players who got a few extra touches were Jack Lago, Tristan Pears, and Leidlein — all of whom helped move the chains with carries and receptions.
The Nighthawks, who clinched a spot in the South-West Conference championship game for the fourth straight year in the previous week’s win at New Fairfield, will have some time off before the big game. They were scheduled to host Immaculate of Danbury on November 15, but Immaculate has forfeited its last three games and, it seems, won’t be taking on the Hawks. The championship game is slated for November 21 at Brookfield High School (7 pm).
“It’s a nice week off for us — we can get healthy,” George said.
The Hawks can make good use of its Friday night off with a look at the two teams vying to challenge them in the pinnacle tilt. Joel Barlow of Redding and Brookfield, both of which have suffered only one defeat — at the hands of the Nighthawks — will square off during Newtown’s bye week and the winner is in position to try to knock off defending conference champs. “They’re both good teams,” George said.
After the title game, Newtown will visit Masuk of Monroe for the annual Thanksgiving Eve contest. In each of the past three seasons, that matchup turned into the SWC title game but Masuk’s two conference losses dropped it out of the championship game picture this fall. The game, this year, will have state playoff implications; Newtown is the top seed in Class LL and will try to keep hold of its No. 1 stature.