BY KYLE BRENNAN
NAUGATUCK — After Naugatuck football coach Chris Anderson accepted the George Pinho Trophy through a persistent fog at Veterans Field, he handed the trophy to his Greyhounds and paced to midfield to deliver a message to his squad and his former team.
“I’m super proud of everybody on this field,” Anderson said, glancing back and forth between Woodland and Naugatuck after the Greyhounds’ 35-13 win Nov. 12. “Both teams played their guts out. We know how much heart you guys have. We love you guys. I love you guys.”
Anderson explained his speech afterwards.
“I wanted to tell those Woodland kids that I loved them,” Anderson said. “I’ve coached a lot of them since fourth grade. They’re kids and they’re competing. I love them, and I want them to do their best.”
It was Naugatuck’s third straight win in the rivalry series that bears the name of Pinho, the Naugatuck grad and former Woodland coach who died in 2013. Not only was the matchup the teams’ first since 2017, but it was also a reunion for the coaches on the Naugy sideline.
Anderson spent the last 20 years at Woodland as a physical education teacher and the architect of the Hawks’ football program. He was head coach from 2001-07 and again in 2015, and he served as offensive coordinator under Chris Moffo for Woodland’s state tournament appearances in 2018 and 2019.
He became Naugy’s head coach earlier this year, beating out Moffo for the job. When Moffo resigned as Woodland’s head coach, Anderson lured Moffo, plus assistant Scott Lynch and former Hawks quarterback Cody Kingsley, to his staff.
Anderson admitted that seeing black and gold helmets as an opponent for the first time was surreal, but he knew he owed his best to the ‘Hounds.
“When they first walked in, I kind of felt really odd — like, my stomach, it felt different,” Anderson said. “But we had a job to do. Over the course of the last couple of months, we’ve come to love these kids who are busting their butts for us.”
Mike Deitelbaum, who led Naugy with 28 carries for 162 yards and three touchdowns, said he knew it was a big game for his coaches, but noted that they kept the focus on the players all week.
“I’m sure it means a lot for the coaches, too, coming over from Woodland,” Deitelbaum said. “It’s a rivalry here in the NVL, and we had to come out with a lot behind us to get this win. They really emphasized that it was about us. We knew that they wanted to beat [Woodland], but at the end of the day it was about us.”
The game was tight until the last few minutes. Naugy held a couple of two-score leads, but the Hawks bit into them each time on a Darren Gasparri-to-Jace Molcyk touchdown pass and a Ben Brooks scoring run. The ‘Hounds scored a pair of touchdowns inside the last 5 1/2 minutes to pull away.
After the game, George Pinho’s brother, Tony, presented the trophy. Naugy has won it four of six times.
“Thank you for letting me and my family do this,” Pinho said. “I’ll keep coming back as long as you want it to come back. This isn’t about one person … it’s about Naugatuck and Woodland, where we grew up, where George coached and where Jake [and Jack] played, and you all being good sports.”
Anderson relished the return of the rivalry.
“Isn’t it great to have high school football back again in a game like this?” he said. “It’s not about me; it’s about Naugatuck and Woodland getting back after it, celebrating the George Pinho Trophy out there. It’s great to have Valley football back.”