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Hebert's Kick Return Sparks Triumph As Nighthawk Football Team Improves To 3-0



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Hebert’s Kick Return Sparks Triumph As Nighthawk Football Team Improves To 3-0

By Andy Hutchison

STRATFORD — Newtown High School’s football team improved to 3-0 by toppling host Stratford 43-14 on Saturday morning, September 29. The game was played at Bunnell High School because of field renovations at Stratford High, and was moved from Friday night to Saturday because of heavy rain.

The Nighthawks poured it on from the start. Dan Hebert returned the opening kickoff 84 yards for a score and added a 13-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Newtown padded its lead for a 34-0 cushion at halftime. Quarterback Drew Tarantino completed a 20-yard TD pass to Justin Devellis and hooked up with Julian Dunn on a two-point pass for a 20-0 lead. Hebert scored on a five-yard rush, and defensive back Jack Lago intercepted a pass and plowed his way through a group of Stratford offensive players-turned defenders for a 25-yard pick-six to close out the first-half scoring. “It felt pretty good. I didn’t want to stop,” Lago said.

Newtown’s second-stringers got playing time in the second half and helped close out the win as sophomore running back Nick Rubino got several handoffs and chewed up the clock; he had seven carries for 30 yards. Jimmy Leidlein rushed for a 61-yard TD scamper, and the defense put up two more points with a safety.

Hebert was a weapon on special teams, offense, and from his cornerback position. He rushed three times for 71 yards after being mostly contained by New Milford and Pomperaug’s defenses paying special attention to him in the previous two weeks.

“I came out fast today, came out intense and was able to break some runs,” Hebert said.

“You can’t keep a kid like that down for a season,” Newtown Coach Steve George said. “You’re eventually going to have to pick your poison.”

In other words, if teams focus too much on Hebert, teammates such as Gold, who had ten carries for 64 yards, will burn the opposition. George notes that the Hawks boast six very strong skill position players — Hebert, Gold, Tarantino, Justin Devellis, Chris Devaney, and Julian Dunn — who can strike for offensive fireworks at any time. “Eventually, somebody’s going to have a big game,” George said.

Justin Devellis played a strong game on both sides of the ball, and his brother Jaret Devellis rushed eight times for 29 yards. Tarantino completed five of ten pass attempts for 96 yards.

Josh Villa and Tim Krapf both had eight tackles, Wyatt Deput had six tackles and a quarterback sack, and Justin Devellis had four tackles.

The offense and defense have both been strong, to say the least, in outscoring the first three opponents a cumulative 106-28. But it was the special teams that set the tone for Newtown’s latest triumph with Hebert’s game-opening kick return for a score.

“It’s hard to take that momentum away and I feel like we kept that momentum up on defense in the next series,” George said. The team held a shutout until the third quarter yet again. NHS has not allowed a first-half score by an opponent yet this fall.

“We haven’t seen the full potential of the team yet and we expect to do that in the next couple of weeks,” George said. “I’m proud of the kids for the way they played today.”

Members of the Nighthawks wore the initials JM on their helmets, in memory of Jill Mossbarger, mom of NHS soccer players Matthew and Katie, former NHS soccer player Mike Mossbarger, who died of complications from cancer on September 19.

NHS will try for another win when Brookfield visits Blue & Gold Stadium for a 7 pm kickoff on Friday, October 5. The Nighthawks will host a fundraiser in support of the American Cancer Society. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, pink T-shirts will be sold for $10 and fans are asked to wear pink in support of the fight against breast cancer. The players will wear pink socks, shoe laces, and tape.

In recognition of the fact 58 people are diagnosed with cancer each day in Connecticut, 58 seconds will be counted down on the scoreboard clock, during which time donation buckets will be passed through the stands. Contributions will go directly to the lifesaving efforts of the American Cancer Society to fund research, provide free programs for people with cancer and their caregivers, advocate for better cancer screenings and treatment, and provide education and information for those who seek it.

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