Above: Quick highlight reel of Newtown vs. Westhill in a preseason scrimmage Friday, Aug. 29 featuring touchdown catches by Julian Dunn and Ethan Carpenter from QB Jacob Burden and an interception return TD by Ben Mason.
- Coach: Steve George (8th year, 63-16)
- Conference: SWC Colonial
- Playoff Class: LL (882 boys enrollment)
- Home: Blue and Gold Stadium, Newtown
- 2013 Record: 12-1 (SWC Champions, lost to Ridgefield in Class LL quarterfinals)
- 2014 Kickoff: Sept. 12 at New Milford, 7 p.m.
- Captains: Julian Dunn, Troy Frangione, Jaret DeVellis, Markus Elken
- Team websites: MaxPreps page | NighthawkSports.com
- Julian Dunn, Sr. WR/DB (6-3, 215)
- Tim Krapf, Sr. LB/FB (6-1, 230)
- Troy Frangione, Sr. WR (5-9, 170)
- Jaret DeVellis, Sr. RB/LB (5-6, 175)
- Ben Mason, Soph. LB/DE/RB (6-2, 220)
- Markus Elken, Sr. OL (6-1, 250)
- Peter Manfredonia, Sr. T/DE (6-3, 280)
- Jacob Burden, Sr. QB
- Nick Samuelson, Jr. OLB (6-0, 205)
- Nick Lotrecchiano, Sr. RB/CB
- Zackary Robertson, Sr. T/DT (6-1, 285)
- Ryan Shaw, Jr. DE (6-3, 250)
- Patrick Donnelly, Sr. T/DT (6-0, 330)
- Ethan Carpenter, Jr. WR/SS/FS (6-0, 170)
- Jared Pearson, Jr. RB/FS (5-11, 180)
Drew Tarantino, QB (three-year starter, 2,683 yards, 34 TD passing – Mt. Union College); Cooper Gold, RB/LB (1,645 yards, 18 TD rushing); Josh Krapf, LB; Jack Lago, WR/DB; Dom Scarangella, OL/DL (Georgetown);
Newtown cemented itself as the the reigning program in the SWC last year. The Nighthawks were virtually unchallenged and undefeated in the regular season for the second-straight season, including their second-consecutive SWC championship.
Even then, the general feeling was that Newtown was a year away. It’s few senior stars Drew Tarantino, Cooper Gold and Dom Scarangella were surrounded underclass talent, from the junior class on down to a select few talented freshmen. “People don’t realize it, but we were still a really young team last year,” coach Steve George said. “As young as Brookfield.”
It showed on the big stage when the No. 1-seeded Nighthawks were upended by No. 8 Ridgefield, 35-34, in the Class LL quarterfinals. It was the second-consecutive quarterfinal exit for the program and elicited a few chuckles from state football fans.
The Hawks, whose last state playoff victory was in 2011, are looking for some redemption in 2014. They are loaded with monster front line and feature established and emerging talent across the skill positions. It starts with 6-foot-3, 215-pound All-State receiver/defensive back Julian Dunn, a 1,000-yard receiver and touchdown specialist. He he led the team with 22 scores, often out-leaping opposing defensive backs. Senior Troy Frangione, an underrated threat who led the team with 51 catches, returns on the other side.
Though Cooper Gold, the school’s all-time leading rusher, has graduated, George is confident quad-captain Jaret DeVellis — a standout linebacker and the last of the town’s DeVellis clan — will fill the roll exceptionally well. Four of five starters return on a line that averages over 280-pounds.
Quarterback is Newtown’s only legitimate concern. Tarantino, a three-year starter and the school’s all-time passing leader, has graduated. The role now goes to senior Jacob Burden (affectionately known as “Boots”), who didn’t throw a varsity pass a year ago. Newtown is depending on his quick development.
Eight starters return on the defensive side, including most of Newtown’s über-tough front-seven, including linebackers DeVellis (six sacks), leading tackler Tim Krapf (110), junior Nick Samuelson and Ben Mason, a 6-2, 220 force who starred with 67 tackles as freshman and is fast becoming one of the state’s best. Ryan Shaw, who had 6 sacks and five tackles for a loss as a junior, anchors the defensive line. Dunn mans the secondary with Nick Lotrecchiano and Ethan Carpenter. They combined for eight interceptions a year ago. Don’t expect the Hawks to give up much ground.
Of the teams on its schedule, only Brookfield appears ready to challenge the Hawks for SWC supremacy. Newtown faces their rivals at the end of a rough, midseason stretch that will define their season. Of particular statewide interest is when three-time defending state champion Ansonia comes to town in Week 6.
And the Chargers just might be attempting to tie Cheshire’s state record 49-game win streak against the Hawks at Blue and Gold Stadium.
Sept. 12 — at New Milford**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 — at Bunnell**, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 — Pomperaug**, 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 — Joel Barlow*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 — at Bethel*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — Ansonia, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 — Brookfield*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 — at Weston*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 — at Stratford**, 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 — New Fairfield*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 26 — Masuk**, 7 p.m.