Nighthawks qualify for state playoffs with win over Immaculate-
NHS Gridders’ Season Will Continue After SWC Championship Game
By Andy Hutchison
Newtown High School’s football team toppled Immaculate of Danbury 40-8, in a rescheduled game, under the lights at Blue & Gold Stadium on Wednesday, November 14. With the win, the Nighthawks locked up a spot in the Class LL state playoffs (view all rankings and seedings at www.casciac.org).
The Nighthawks got two touchdown catches from Chris Devaney, a TD reception by Justin Devellis, and scoring runs by Nick Rubino and Josh Villa to improve to 9-0 heading into the regular season finale-turned South-West Conference championship game against Masuk of Monroe.
The Nighthawks and Masuk Panthers, on Thanksgiving Eve, were scheduled to clash with the SWC title on the line for the third year in a row (after The Bee went to press). Because the rivals carried the best conference records into their scheduled matchup yet again, the contest at Blue & Gold Stadium is designated the championship battle.
Newtown entered into the game looking to get payback against a Masuk team that has won the clash for the title in consecutive seasons. It’s obviously a huge game in its own right, but – win or lose for Newtown – the Hawks stand to benefit from the level of competition heading into the state playoffs, which are scheduled to get underway with quarterfinals on Tuesday, November 27. Both Class LL state playoff-bound Newtown and Class L playoff-bound Masuk were looking to bolster their playoff positioning among eight qualifying teams in each class. Seedings and schedules are to be updated on Friday, November 23. Visit www.casciac.org for details.
“The kids will be facing a good quarterback, good running back, good linemen, defense, so it’s not going to be as easy as it was tonight,” Newtown Coach Steve George said in anticipation of facing fellow unbeaten team Masuk in the game following the trouncing of winless Immaculate.
The Panthers scored 40-plus points in every game this fall, and Newtown has scored 40 or more points in six contests. Newtown’s win over Immaculate marked the third straight game in which the Hawks held an opponent to eight points.
Despite playing on their home turf and the fact this game became Senior Night, the Nighthawks wore their away white jerseys since this was, officially, an away tilt. It had been slated to take place at Immaculate on November 3, but was postponed due to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Immaculate has no lights and the game had to be made up in the evening because of scheduling purposes.
In the win, several younger and reserve players stepped in and contributed with key plays. Rubino scored on a 63-yard run and added five tackles on defense. Dean Baye had five tackles, Nolan Fisher added three tackles to go along with a fumble recovery, Eric Byrd had three tackles and assisted on two others, and Anthony Paggett had a key reception for 23 yards. Villa’s score was set up by Nick Norberg’s blocked punt and recovery. Norberg nearly got to the end zone before his knee hit down inside the one yard line.
Starting quarterback Drew Tarantino completed TD passes of ten and three yards to Devaney, and 26 to Devellis. The Nighthawks were without standout Dan Hebert who participated in Senior Night activities after sustaining an arm injury in Newtown’s win over Bunnell of Stratford on November 9.