If nothing else, Thursday night was proof that there are no down years for the Pomperaug football program.
The Panthers were thoroughly outplayed by Newtown (in my opinion), but found a way to get the job done. Brett Gaughan got the scoring started with a 65-yard interception return and Garrett DeLotto shut the door on the Nighthawks with a 95-yard pick-six in the late fourth quarter. The Panthers got the job done without their best offensive player, running back Andrew Reel, who suffered an apparent concussion early on.
A few observations after this game:
· Lou Fenaroli is a monster. The Pomp defense is good, trust me. Prior to Newtown, the Panthers’ opponents struggled on the ground. Even Brookfield’s running backs couldn’t find much running room in the season opener. Clearly, Fenaroli doesn’t need running room; he creates it himself.
· If the Panthers get by Bunnell on Friday (biggest game of the year in the conference), they’re in great shape going forward. Even with a loss to Masuk in Week 8, Pomperaug will likely punch itself a ticket to the SWC championship game and,quite possibly, the Class LL playoffs.
· The key to beating Masuk — or at least competing — is keeping Casey Cochran on the sidelines. Lou Fenaroli and Newtown have the best shot at doing that. Give the Panthers a heavy dose of Fenaroli, limit turnovers, create a few and there’s the possibility — albeit a small one — of an upset. We’ll save the rest of this discussion for Thanksgiving, though.
Elsewhere, Brookfield played its most complete game thus far in a convincing 39-14 beating of New Fairfield. The Bobcats defense piled on NINE sacks and running back Leaon Gordon, quietly putting together a phenomenal year, raced for 158 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries.
Bethel made it three dramatic, come-from-behind victories in the season’s first month when it pulled away from Oxford late for a 54-41 win. The Wildcats really could be 0-4 right now, but instead they’re sitting at 3-1. That’s a testament to the mental toughness of these kids, particularly quarterback Brandon Schmidt.
Don’t look now, but outside of Casey Cochran, New Milford’s Connor Shanahan has been the league’s most productive quarterback. The junior has thrown for 996 yards and 11 touchdowns (with only three picks) through four games.
WEEKLY HONOR ROLL (a ton of big-time performances this week)
Brandon Schmidt, QB, Bethel –20 carries, 158 yards, 2 TD; 11-for-18 passing, 188 yards, 3 TD in 54-41 win over Oxford
Alex Miller, QB, Oxford — 18-for-26, 308 yards, 2 TD; 15 carries, 150 yards, 3 TD
Nigel Beckford, RB, Notre Dame-Fairfield — 74-yard TD run, 34-yard TD run; 61-yard INT return for TD in loss to Stratford
Kih Best, RB, New Milford — 71 rushing yards, 69 receiving yards, 3 total TD in win over Immaculate
Leaon Gordon, RB, Brookfield — 11 carries, 158 yards, 3 TD
Joey Acquanita, LB, Brookfield — 11 tackles, 1 sack
Dave DePoi, TE/DE, Brookfield — 3 receptions, 71 yards; 7 tackles, 3 sacks
Cal Daniels, WR, Bethel — 8 receptions, 164 yards, 3 TD
Matt Paola, WR/K/DB, Pomperaug — 47-yard field goal; 38-yard reception
Lou Fenaroli, RB, Newtown — 36 carries, 169 yards; 3 receptions, 28 yards; 2 tackles
Connor Shanahan, QB, New Milford — 22-for-30, 266 yards, 3 TD
Donald Graham, RB, Stratford — 2 rushing TD
Jason Kramer, LB, Bunnell — 13 tackles
JJ Bivona, RB/LB, Bunnell — 12 tackles
Austin Delaney, RB/LB, Weston — 11 tackles
Jawad Chisholm, WR/DB, Bunnell — 7 tackles, 52-yard INT return for TD
Daniel Rogers, RB/LB, Weston — 97 yards from scrimmage, TD; 8 tackles
Jared Vasquez, WR, Bunnell –6 receptions, 107 yards, 2 TD; fumble recovery
Casey Cochran, QB, Masuk — 13-for-17, 300 yards, 4 TD; 9-yard TD run
Colin Markus, RB, Masuk — 7 carries, 110 yards, 2 TD
Jason Piontkowski, WR, Masuk — 3 receptions, 116 yards, 2 TD
DUFFY’S TOP FIVE
1. Masuk (4-0)
2. Bunnell (4-0)
3. Pomperaug (4-0)
4. Newtown (3-1)
5. Bethel (3-1)
Just missed: Weston (2-2), Brookfield (2-2)
Game of the Week: Pomperaug at Bunnell, Friday, 7 p.m.