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For the past seven years, Bobby Pattison has been one of the many men behind the scenes, helping Newtown High School’s football team pile up wins, and championships. Pattison, who has been an assistant coach under Steve George during that time — the last four years of which he served as defensive coordinator — is in the forefront now. Pattison succeeds George, who stepped down after his tenth season at the helm, this past fall, Newtown High School Athletic Director Matt Memoli announced, on January 10.
“I’m excited for the new opportunity and I look forward to it,” Pattison said. “I’m excited to get going, get the kids in the weight room … for spring practices, get a start on it.”
Pattison, 29, began as a volunteer assistant on the offensive side of the ball before the defensive coordinator spot opened up.
During his time in the program, the Nighthawks have been among the best teams in the South-West Conference, reaching a handful of SWC championship games, and making multiple state playoff appearances.
“It’s a lot of fun. We’ve had a good amount of success the past few years, really the past ten years we’ve had a tremendous amount of success,” Pattison said. “The expectations are very high. We ask a lot of our kids to put in the work every day to compete.”
Newtown’s new leader says he will insist his players work hard both and off the field, and that includes serving as strong role models through volunteer work/community service projects of some sort.
“I’m going to expect a lot from our kids,” he said. “I expect all the kids to work hard and play at a high level.”
Pattison, who now lives in Danbury, has strong ties to Newtown. Not only did he grow up here, and play football and coach here, but Pattison is in his sixth year teaching US History at NHS. He also coaches boys’ golf in the spring.
“I have a ton of pride in Newtown. I want the best for the program. I want to compete at a very high level,” he said.
Pattison was a running back and linebacker at NHS, graduating in 2005. He played a season of football at Ithaca (N.Y.) College. He played for George when George was an assistant, and he credits his former coach/predecessor for helping him not just become a football coach, but for helping develop his character on and off the field.
George hired Pattison, when he was a senior, to help with contracting jobs in the summer, and the two have forged a strong friendship.
“I think they made a great choice. He’s a great kid, he’s a fast learner, he’s got tremendous ability,” George said.
“He can see the field well. He makes great decisions,” adds George, pointing out that the NHS defense has put up (or more accurately prevented opposing offense from putting up) great numbers throughout the years. Take this past season as a small sample size of what the Nighthawk D has accomplished: The Nighthawks held seven of ten regular-season opponents under ten points, and that includes four shutouts.
“Mr Pattison’s dedication to the Newtown Football program during his tenure as assistant coach and defensive coordinator makes him an outstanding choice for this position. His experience, work ethic, and commitment is second to none,” Memoli stated in a press release announcing the appointment of Pattison.
Newtown’s new head coach thanks the school administration and George for the opportunity he’s had and this next step in his coaching career, and also credits former coaches who have helped him along the way: Al Potter and Brian Micena in wrestling and lacrosse, respectively.
Pattison looks ahead to continuing the success the Nighthawks have had on the gridiron.
Newtown graduates a lot of high-level talent this year, and brings in a small senior class next fall, but Pattison notes that the team has always been able to overcome losses to graduation and compete at a high level. He hopes the up-and-coming players see that past history of success and use their opportunity to work hard.
Pattison takes over at a time in which the Nighthawks will face some different tests on the field. Beginning in his first campaign at the helm, South-West Conference teams will play two nonconference opponents. Newtown takes on a pair of Southern Connecticut Conference squads in a Shelton team that knocked it out of the state playoffs two years in a row, and Xavier of Middletown. Pattison says he wants this tougher schedule to motivate the team members to work harder.
“We need to be fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game,” Pattison said. “Underclassmen will have to step it up.”