SOUTHBURY — Newtown High School’s football team did all of its scoring in the first half and cruised to a season-opening 26-7 win over host Pomperaug on a September 13 late afternoon. Quarterback Drew Tarantino set the school's passing yards record. He threw for 229 yards, surpassing Mike Newman (1974) who had the old record with 3,405 yards. Tarantino has thrown for 3,581.
Julian Dunn caught a pair of touchdown passes from Tarantino — one from nine yards out, the other on a 56-yard play — and added a late-game interception to help seal the win. Cooper Gold led the rushing attack and got into the end zone on a four-yard score, and Jaret DeVellis returned a failed Pomperaug field goal attempt 80 yards for a TD. DeVellis also had an interception and Ethan Carpenter came up with a fumble recovery.
Newtown struck for a pair of first-quarter scores as Tarantino connected with Dunn for the shorter of their two TD connections to get things going. The Panthers threatened to get on the scoreboard but, on a field goal attempt, the ball appeared to hit a Pomperaug player, setting the stage for DeVellis’ return.
The Nighthawks padded the lead in the second quarter and the defense preserved the shutout until a long penalty flag-assisted drive by Pomperaug culminated with a TD with 9:34 to play.
“We played great defense and offensively we played well in the first half,” Newtown Coach Steve George said.
In other words, the coach is looking for some improvement on second-half offensive struggles. George did credit the Panthers — “They played great defense on us in the second half,” he said — but added that would like to see a better performance going forward.
George noted that pass interference and holding penalties need to be cleaned up and that missed blocking assignments resulted in Tarantino getting hit too many times. The quarterback still managed to have an effective game with the help of receiver Troy Frangione who made some nice plays, picking up tough yards after catches.
DeVellis, a junior linebacker, made his first varsity start a memorable one. “I was just really excited to get out on the field. I couldn’t really ask for a better start,” he said.
The opener had been scheduled for the night before but a heavy rain storm altered the start. The Nighthawks are slated to return to action on Friday, September 20 for the home opener when Bethel visits Blue & Gold Stadium for a 7 pm kickoff.
“They’re good up front. They’re going to try to move us off the ball,” George said of Bethel.
Dunn is excited to put on the pads in front of the home crowd, and Newtown will wear special green jerseys and honor the Sandy Hook community. “That’s going to make it even more special of a night,” Dunn said.
Check back online for highlights from the Bethel game, read more about Newtown’s win over Pomperaug in the September 20 print edition of The Bee.