Over the past decade, an increasing public awareness about treating and preventing concussions, especially among younger rec league, school, and college athletes, has brought the issue out of emergency rooms and into living rooms. It now concerns not just coaches, but whole communities. According to the governor’s office, 13.5 percent of high school students self-reported getting a concussion during sports. Fortunately for local student athletes the local school district, and particularly Newtown High School, is already ahead of the game when it comes to responding to and addressing students who may be exposed to, or who have already suffered, concussions. Little did Athletic Director Gregg Simon know that his planned info session would occur the evening after Mr Cochran made his potentially career-ending decision.
Chasing teams in the standings in the final two weeks of the regular season, Newtown High School’s boys’ soccer team picked up a pair of crucial wins — defeating visiting Joel Barlow of Redding on October 8 and host Immaculate of Danbury two days later. Newtown won both contests by 2-1 scores and, in doing so, earned six points and bolstered its South-West Conference playoff chances. “We’re excited to get the points,” said Newtown Coach Brian Neumeyer, who would have preferred his team earn them a little more easily, but is hopeful there is a payoff for the pressure-filled success. The wins over both Barlow and Immaculate were nail-biters, with the Nighthawks breaking a 1-1 tie in the second half each time.
Newtown High School’s football team visited South-West Conference rival Bethel on October 10 and pulled away for a 27-7 victory to remain perfect at 5-0. The Wildcats fell to 3-2. Newtown led 6-0 after one quarter of play and slowly pulled away, going up 20-7 at halftime and putting the game away with its final touchdown, in the third quarter.
Troy Frangione had two touchdown receptions — one on a 41-yard play and the other from 29 yards out. Both scores came on screen passes, among three short route-turned big-points plays.
Newtown High School’s girls’ and boys’ cross country teams ran away with victories in their lone home meet, and final regular season in-conference competition, on the Fairfield Hills trails adjacent to Reed Intermediate School on October 7. The girls posted an 18-43 win over Immaculate of Danbury, a 17-46 triumph over Bunnell of Stratford, and a 15-50 victory over Notre Dame-Fairfield. The boys, in similar fashion, toppled Immaculate 15-49, Bunnell 19-42, and Notre Dame 15-50. Both teams had one-two finishes, and several runners among the top ten — the girls with six and the boys with seven.
It’s no coincidence that Newtown High School’s girls’ soccer team played five ties in their first nine games of the campaign. “The parity is better than ever,” Newtown Coach Marc Kenney said of his and the other 13 South-West Conference teams, after playing Pomperaug of Southbury to a 2-2 draw at Blue & Gold Stadium on October 3. After their third straight tie — Hailey Conrad netted Newtown’s lone goal in a 1-1 stalemate with host New Milford on September 30 and the team played Weston to a scoreless battle three days earlier — the Nighthawks stood at 3-1-5 overall this fall.
After a tough 2-1 loss to visiting Masuk of Monroe at Blue & Gold Stadium on October 6, Newtown High School’s boys’ soccer team members listened to their coach talk about the importance of earning wins in upcoming games. “If we do not collect points we will not make the SWC tournament,” he told them. Newtown entered an October 8 scheduled game with Joel Barlow of Redding with eight points — tied with Immaculate of Danbury for 11th in the South-West Conference and just three points behind Notre Dame-Fairfield, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot. Between them are Bethel (ten points) and now Masuk, which leapfrogged the Nighthawks into tenth place with nine points.
A two-game losing streak was snapped by the Newtown High School field hockey team at Blue & Gold Stadium on October 1. The girls faced off against Masuk of Monroe and came away with a 7-0 win to improve to 5-4 overall.
Newtown High School’s girls’ swimming and diving team, after a 6-0 start, suffered a 101-85 loss at unbeaten Pomperaug of Southbury on October 2. The Nighthawks rebounded with a 92-81 victory over visiting Stratford on October 7. Newtown Coach Zach Gauvin noted that his team had plenty to be pleased with in the meet with Pomperaug. “This was our first loss of the season but it was by far the fastest meet we have swum all season. The girls swam and dove tough in every event and put up a great fight against one of the best teams in the state,” Gauvin said.
Newtown High School’s girls’ volleyball team earned its biggest win of the campaign, a 3-1 (18-25, 25-14, 25-19, 25-17) triumph over Weston, at home on October 6. Kyle Dandrea had ten kills, nine digs, and three service aces; Jamie Calandro had 12 kills, eight digs, and two aces; Tonya Tucker and Clara Whaley both had 11 kills; and Molly McCoy compiled 35 assists. Alexa Reilly added five kills and two aces; Tessa Leon-Gambetta contributed three digs and a trio of aces; and Julia Wiberg had four kills. Dandrea and Wiberg combined for five blocks.