Schedule Adjustment: Football Team Will Play Four Nonconference Games
Newtown High School’s football team’s path to the postseason just got a whole lot harder.
The team’s out-of-conference schedule had been doubled to four games for the 2019 season, and two of them are perennial Southern Connecticut Conference and state-level powerhouses in Shelton and Fairfield Prep.
There are 84 teams representing five Connecticut high school football leagues that will participate in the Connecticut High School Football Alliance, scheduling a total of 99 games in the upcoming season. This is the third year the Alliance has scheduled football games. In the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the South-West Conference, SCC, and Eastern Connecticut Conference scheduled a total 80 games.
Now, 21 teams from the SCC, a dozen from the SWC, and seven from the ECC will participate, and the Central Connecticut Conference (32 teams) and the FCIAC (12 teams) have joined the Alliance.
Representatives from each of the leagues met several times over the past few months to develop the schedule and matchups, which were based on such factors as classification, school enrollment, and recent program success.
“Scheduling out-of-league games creates more competitive games for both large and small schools and generates more interest in high school games. This is good for high school football fans and most important, good for the students who play high school football in Connecticut,” SWC Commissioner Dave Johnson said.
“Non-league games offer a bit of excitement and intrigue during a football season, especially with the focus on getting to the state playoffs,” SCC Commissioner Al Carbone added. “The SCC is pleased to be part of this partnership and believes the Alliance is a critical step in getting towards true statewide football scheduling.”
Newtown had success in its nonconference tilts this past season, defeating Cheshire and Norwich Free Academy handily before toppling Darien in the state playoff quarterfinals, then losing to Greenwich in the state semis.
The year before, Newtown was beaten by Xavier of Middletown and Shelton, losing to Shelton by seven points.
In week two of the 2019 campaign, September 20, the Nighthawks will visit SCC team Prep, which went 10-1, was ranked eighth in the Class LL state playoffs, and defeated No. 1 Shelton in the quarterfinals before losing in the semis last fall.
SCC team West Haven (5-5) comes to Blue & Gold Stadium in week three, September 27.
Newtown plays in Shelton, another SCC foe, in week five, October 11. NHS and Shelton met in the state playoffs in 2015 and ‘16. Both teams were unbeaten during the regular slate last season.
Danbury, an FCIAC program that went 4-6 a year ago, visits Newtown on October 25.
“These are some great teams. Shelton, every year, seems to be at the top of the SCC, and Prep is right behind them,” said Newtown Coach Bobby Pattison, adding that West Haven is also competitive. “The schedule is going to be tougher; it’s definitely going to be a challenge. The kids are excited.”
Newtown has had its way with SWC opponents in recent years, losing only to Bunnell of Stratford (2017) and New Fairfield (2015) in regular-season clashes dating all the way back to the start of the 2012 season.
Although school size does not tell the whole story, Newtown will face more similarly-sized schools under the new format. NHS and New Milford are the only two Class LL schools in the SWC. Newtown has dominated New Milford year after year. Class L conference rivals Masuk of Monroe and Bunnell have been competitive with Newtown most years.
While we may be closer to the end of this past season than the beginning of next season, it’s really always football season in some way or another. The Nighthawks, coming off their win in the Nutmeg State Games High School Football Weight Lifting Competition last March, have been hitting the weights in preparation for this year’s event.
Pattison would like to see not only his Nighthawks but also other SWC teams succeed in these nonconference tilts.
“Hopefully the SWC schools rise to the occasion and this creates a little buzz for high school football,” Pattison said.
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