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Defending SWC Champion Hawk Gridders Have Plenty Of Experience



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Experience is on Newtown High School football team's side this this fall as the Nighthawks try to improve on their winning ways from a year ago.

Last year, Coach Bobby Pattison’s Nighthawks posted a 7-3 overall mark and went 6-1 in the conference, earning a share of the SWC title along with Bunnell of Stratford and Masuk of Monroe.

“The goal is to build off our 7-3 campaign last year. We expect to be in the hunt for SWC and state championships,” Pattison said of the upcoming season’s objectives.

A return of a bulk of last year’s starting group gives Pattison and company reason to believe the ceiling is so high.

Key graduates, Pattison noted, were Ryan Kost, Alex Street, Ryan Williams, Connor Marlin, and Jack Miller. But not many shoes have to be filled.

The Hawks return nine of 11 offensive starters and seven of 11 defensive starters, including two-way players.

Captains are Dan Mason and Matt Dubois (both of whom are running backs and linebackers), Joseph Pagett (wide receiver/defensive back), and Shea Talbot (linebacker/tight end).

Seniors Carson Ivey and Connor Hughes will anchor the offensive line, with senior Joe Zeller returning at nose guard. Several returning underclassmen who started last year also return, Pattison said.

“Greatest strength will be the experience we return. We started mostly sophomores and juniors last year who have worked hard to get bigger, faster, and stronger this offseason,” the coach said.

The advantage of having so many players return with experience, of course, is that they are already familiar with the playbook.

"They know everything. It's not like you have to teach them the basic run plays and basic routes," Pattison said.

Among the losses was at the quarterback position with Kost manning the pocket a season ago. Luke Melillo and Jack Street were vying for the starting role as preseason gave way to the start of the regular slate this week.

Pattison believes Bunnell should provide tough competition in the SWC. Cheshire and Norwich Free Academy are Newtown’s two crossover games.

The coach is excited to see what his team can do this fall.

“We hit it hard this offseason as a team, participating in weight lifting competitions, passing leagues, and linemen challenges. Our kids are hungry and ready,” Pattison said. “Expectations are always high in this program. We are going to work our hardest to exceed expectations and set the bar even higher.”

The regular season begins Friday, September 7, when New Fairfield comes to Blue & Gold Stadium for a 7 pm start. Among other schedule highlights, Cheshire comes to town September 14, also at 7 o’clock. The game with Norwich Free is on the road on Saturday, October 13, at 1 pm. NHS is at Bunnell on Friday, October 26, at 7 pm. The annual Thanksgiving Eve contest against Masuk of Monroe will be in Newtown this year, on Wednesday, November 21, also at 7 pm.

Luke Melillo throws a pass during a scrimmage.
Griffin Cross eludes would-be tacklers during a preseason scrimmage against Ridgefield.
Quarterbacks Jack Street, left, and Luke Melillo (getting a block from Kyle Good) look down field.
Football captains are, from left: Dan Mason, Matt Dubois, Joseph Pagett, and Shea Talbot. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Connor Moran, left, and Miles Ricks jump to defend a pass.
Riley Ward gets his hands on the ball to break up a Ridgefield pass play.
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