NEW MILFORD >> Masuk’s football team rose up against its new coach in the preseason. In the regular season, it banded together and crushed its former coach’s new team.
Masuk ran roughshod over New Milford Sunday afternoon, exploding for 40 points in the second quarter en route to a 71-34 victory in a game simmering with bitterness because former Masuk coach John Murphy was on the New Milford sideline.
Malik Cummings threw close to 200 yards and three touchdown passes. Joe DaMota ran wild through New Milford’s defense for 212 yards and scored on a pair of runs. P.J. Kokkoros and Mike Dellapiano ran for two apiece for Masuk (1-0).
“We looked real solid today,” back Joe DaMota said. “Yeah, they scored 34 points. But that’s OK, we put another 40 on the board.”
In this new era, it seems, all Masuk needs is a goal and it becomes relentless in pursuing it.
Two weeks ago, upset at how new coach Dave Brennan was running the program, the team was in near revolt. It saw assistant coach Justin Scarpetti leave the team before returning. It saw players walking away from practice to ask principal Joe Kobza for something to change.
After a meeting with parents and later with the players, Masuk performed well in a scrimmage with Southington. That apparently led to a renaissance.
“It was a bumpy road,” said Brennan, who was hired from Ridgefield to replace Murphy in the spring. “But now I think we’re on the right track.
“Our athletes decided it was time to move forward and turn the page. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. The challenges of the offseason have produced the effort you saw here today.”
Still, emotions were at a boiling point for Masuk. At one point Brennan had to pull the team aside to admonish some of them for acting “like punks,” as the team piled up points.
Afterward, Murphy walked past and shook hands with some of the assistants and he embraced Cummings, his former quarterback, but few others.
“It really pumped us up,” DaMota said of playing his former coach. “He’s a good coach and a good guy, but you know he didn’t even shake hands with us. I don’t disrespect him. But, show some respect, I say.”
Murphy hinted at some objectionable preseason issues he had with the people and the program he coached to three state championships in 16 years. He didn’t elaborate on what made him upset.
“You know, it’s just that there was a lot coming up to it,” he said. “I just hope we can move on, put that stuff aside and they can just leave me be.”
Murphy’s new team started off well, despite starting the season without its starting quarterback, who broke his arm in the preseason.
The Green Wave was within 14-12 after one quarter thanks to a 58-yard double-pass Nick Kimball threw to Scott Eherts and a 53-yard touchdown quarterback Tyler Hansen threw to Drew Hansen, who caught the ball with his fingertips and trotted across the goal line.
But New Milford’s defense had no answer for the Masuk freight train.
Masuk scored six straight times in the second quarter. Mike Dellpiano ran 17 yards for a score, Trevor Kollmann caught his second TD of the day on a 12-yarder from Cummings and DaMota burst 59 yards for a touchdown to make it 34-12.
It went on like this. Kyle Thibodeau sacked Tyler Hansen and Russell Lilly scored his second touchdown of the day by leaping on a loose ball in the end zone. P.J. Kokkoros tacked on two more touchdowns to put Masuk ahead 54-12 at the half.
All told, Masuk ran 14 plays and amassed 281 yards in the second quarter alone.
“We expected to play a little better on the defensive side,” Murphy said. “Guys who we were counting on, I don’t know if it was the magnitude of the game or what, but we didn’t tackle very well and their skill guys were too much for us.”
The Hansens hooked up again on a 46-yard touchdown to open the third quarter, but Masuk just kept coming, finally kicking a field goal to move over 70 points.
With Murphy taken care of, the team is thinking big as the remainder of its season gets underway.
“We’re pumped,” DaMota said. “We’re going to do real well this season. We’re real pumped.
“We had a lot of doubters this season. So we have a little chip on our shoulders. We’re one of the best teams in the state, I think so. We can beat any team in our conference this year and we’re looking forward to a state championship.”
MASUK 14 40 14 3 — 71
NEW MILFORD 12 0 15 7 — 34
- M — Russell Lilly 15 pass from Malik Cummings (Chris Rubis kick)
- NM — Scott Eherts 53 pass Nick Kimball (kick failed)
- M — Trevor Kollmann 12 pass from Cummings (Rubis kick)
- NM — Drew Hansen 53 pass from Tyler Hansen (run failed)
- M — Mike Dellapiano 17 run (kick failed)
- M — Kollmann 12 pass from Cummings (Rubis kick)
- M — Joe DaMota 59 run (Rubis kick)
- M — Lilly fumble recovery in end zone (Rubis kick)
- M — P.J. Kokkoros 4 run (kick failed)
- M — Kokkoros 1 run (Rubis kick)
- NM — Drew Hansen 46 pass Tyler Hansen (Kimball pass from Hansen)
- M — Mike Dellapiano 4 run (Rubis kick)
- M — DaMota 3 run (Rubis kick)
- NM — A.J. McDonald 5 run (Cole Case kick)
- M–Chris Rubis 23 field goal
- NM — Kimball 62 pass Tyler Hansen (Case kick)
Records: Masuk 1-0, New Milford 0-1