A constant force

Sistrunk carries Greyhounds through transition

Naugatuck senior Antoine Sistrunk has been a steady force for the Greyhounds with 16 total touchdowns so far this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Naugatuck senior Antoine Sistrunk has been a steady force for the Greyhounds with 16 total touchdowns so far this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

At the start of the Greyhounds’ season there were a lot of questions as to how the Garnett and Grey would transition. After losing players like Jason Bradley and Bryan Coney, many wondered how head coach Craig Bruno was going take the pass-happy team and reshape it without its star quarterback and receiver.

The 5-4 Greyhounds have had their ups and downs this season, but through it all there has been one constant — senior running back and defensive back Antoine Sistrunk.

“Antoine has done so much. He’s been outstanding offensively and defensively, and he’s definitely our most explosive player,” Bruno says. “He’s had a lot on him because teams have keyed on him, and he continued to bang in there. I think he’s had a wonderful year.”

Sistrunk proved on many nights that he could be the go-to guy for the Naugatuck offense.

In the season-opener versus Kennedy, Sistrunk scored three times, including a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs, to help the Greyhounds rally from a halftime deficit. Sistrunk added a 14-yard pick-six.

On senior night Oct. 29 versus Watertown, Sistrunk carried Naugatuck to a victory with 238 yards rushing on 24 carries and four touchdowns.

Multiple touchdown games have been the norm for Sistrunk this season. He had three versus Torrington and two against Sacred Heart-Kaynor Tech and Crosby, including a passing touchdown to Etty Ilunga.

The 5-foot-10 running back had a standout season in 2014, tallying 26 touchdowns and playing a crucial role in the ‘Hounds 9-3 overall record. Sistrunk’s name became known far and wide by their opponents, which has made him a target by most defensive coordinators.

Throughout the Greyhounds 2015 journey, defenses have had their work cut out for them trying to contain Sistrunk. While he has scored 16 total touchdowns, the senior running back has fallen short of his goal to eclipse Naugatuck High School’s season touchdown record (32), held by former Greyhound running back Mick Pernell.

“Our season hasn’t gone as good as I thought it would, but we’re still at .500, so it’s pretty decent,” Sistrunk says. “It has been great playing for coach Bruno, because he really has a feel for the game. … The journey [has been] pretty good. I didn’t get as many touchdowns as I wanted this year, but I’m still going to finish the season strong.”

Throughout his time at Naugatuck, Sistrunk has grown both in skill and reputation in the eyes of his peers as well as his adversaries. Now as a senior and captain for the Greyhound team, his toughness and skill on the field have set a standard for his teammates and has garnered the respect and admiration from the coaching staff.

Sistrunk has not only welcomed the pressure of leadership, but he enjoys adding to the hope and pride within his teammates.

“I feel like as a leader everyone looks up to me,” Sistrunk says. “As I lead they will follow. Whatever I do, [I know] they’ll be right behind me.”

As he approaches the end of his high school football career the senior hopes to leave a legacy as “one of the greatest running backs to ever step foot in Naugatuck,” while also being remembered for his work ethic, leadership and passion for the game.

Editor’s note: This article appears in the Citizen’s News’ special Thanksgiving football section published the week of Nov. 27, 2015.

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