If the Newtown High School football team’s early showing of success in offseason workout efforts is a precursor for what’s to come in the fall, the Nighthawks stand to be one of the stronger teams — literally — in the South-West Conference.
Sheer strength isn’t the only thing that carries football players to success on the gridiron, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. The ability to lift massive amounts of weight is what it was all about during a recent off-season competition between SWC foes as they train hard long in advance for the battles on the field.
The Nighthawk gridders, who this past fall captured the SWC championship on the field, won the SWC Weight Lifting Competition, which they hosted, on March 13. The Nighthawks were among six conference teams to compete, and they lifted a combined 12,290 pounds in the bench press, squat, and power clean events.
Oxford, with 11,785, was second, followed by Pomperaug of Southbury (11,020), Weston (9,385), Masuk of Monroe (9,090), and New Milford (8,540).
“They’ve been hitting the weight room hard in the offseason,” Newtown Coach Steve George said.
And it’s showing.
Newtown’s total is nearly one thousand pounds over its previous high in a team weight-lifting competition, George notes. In the past, Newtown and other schools participated in a statewide competition, but it wasn’t held this spring. George and other SWC coaches, as a result, elected to have their own in-conference battle. All 14 of the conference teams were invited to participate, the NHS coach said.
Individually, the Nighthawks had plenty of success, as team representatives took home three of the five weight class titles for their cumulative efforts in the three styles of lifting.
Newtown’s Nick Rubino, in the 181–200 pound class, lifted a total of 835 pounds for his victory. Cooper Gold and Nick Landau tied for the 201–220 class, each lifting 945 pounds. Gold, by virtue of his lower weight, won the trophy.
In the 221 and over weight class, Tim Krapf earned first with a combined 1,050 pounds.
Newtown’s Mike Long was among the smallest student-athletes in his class (under 160), George notes, but still managed to place second in all three events.
Jaret DeVellis (181–200 class) became a member of the 800-pound club by lifting a combined weight of 805 pounds. Gold won the squat event in his class by lifting 405 pounds. Landau won the bench press (295) and power clean (255) in his class. Pete Manfredonia walked away with top honors in the bench press for those 221 and over, benching 315 pounds. Krapf, with a 500-pound squat effort, dominated the 221 and over class.
NHS football team alumni came back to judge the lifting event, and players from competing teams worked together by serving as spotters for one another.
The football players hit the weight room every winter, but having this competition to work for encourages them to work hard, George says. “I think it gives a little motivation in the offseason,” he said.
In addition to the lifting competition, the Hawk gridders participate in a 7 on 7 tournament, also instruct youth athletes in a football tourney, and compete in strongman competitions during the spring-summer stretch.
“The kids like to compete no matter what it is,” George said.