Defenses are most successful when they attack a team’s weakest link. That’s easier said than done against the 2016 Greyhounds.
The Greyhounds attack opponents with a balanced offense that can strike on the ground and through the air to keep defenses from keying on any one player. In order for that game plan to work, hard-working, dedicated athletes that refuse to quit are necessary.
Naugy has a pair of athletes that fit the mold in senior running back Tyler Deitelbaum and senior wide receiver Jalen Datil.
“Having both Tyler and Jalen out there has been huge in our success as a football team,” says junior quarterback Mike Plasky, who has completed 95 of 163 passes for 1,923 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 214 yards and three touchdowns. “It give us a nice balance on offense and gives me a lot of options depending on what the defense is giving us. It certainly has taken a lot of weight off my shoulders having those two out there.”
Deitelbaum and Datil have played large roles this year in the success of the Greyhounds’ offense, which has put 357 points (39.6 ppg) on the scoreboard in nine games.
Deitelbaum is a versatile athlete who can run the ball, go out for a pass and even take a few snaps in the pocket. The senior running back has compiled 764 yards rushing on 118 carries with six touchdowns, hauled in 10 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns, and has even thrown a touchdown pass on a halfback option.
“Playing different positions all though Pop Warner and high school has really helped me to develop into an all-around player,” says Deitelbaum, who has rushed for over 100 yards in five games this season. “It helps you to understand the game and play it to the best of your ability.”
When it comes time to pass the ball all eyes are on Datil, who has shown the ability to take over games. The senior wideout has hauled in 46 catches for 1,146 yards and 15 touchdowns, and can take it to another level at a moment’s notice.
Twice this season Datil has gained over 200 yards receiving — a seven-catch, 239-yard performance against Crosby and a 10-catch, 214-yard game against Waterbury Career.
“Mike is more comfortable in the pocket this year and we have worked on patterns during the offseason,” Datil says. “We have so much confidence knowing we can run the ball when we have to and throw it when we have to. It doesn’t allow the defense to settle in and key on any one part of our game.
“Tyler is a great running back and our line is doing a phenomenal job. Every time I catch the ball I’m looking to take it to the end zone but I wouldn’t have the success that I’ve had without my teammates.”
The ability to strike at any moment from anywhere in any way has the Greyhounds at 7-2 and in the hunt for a playoff berth in Class L.
“As a team we have the ability to come out with something new every game. We have so many weapons on this team, and not just Jalen and myself,” Deitelbaum says.
The senior running back isn’t exaggerating.
Senior Devin Biancarelli has rushed 20 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Dan Oladopo has 15 catches, 242 yards and three touchdowns.
Sophomore Elijah Robinson has 69 yards and one touchdown on the ground to go along with 12 catches for 230 yards and one touchdown through the air. Sophomore Jacob Fazekas has rushed for 477 yards and six touchdowns while hauling in 10 catches for 151 yards and one touchdown.
It all starts in the trenches, Deitelbaum says, where Matt Johnson, Ben Rossi, Sammy Ayash, Jiram Lopez and Dan Pagan go to work.
“The offensive line has put a lot of time in the offseason and worked hard to form a solid unit,” Deitelbaum says. “Matt (Johnson) and Ben (Rossi) are the veterans who have been holding it down helping the younger guys come along.”
The Greyhounds’ offense faces a tough test on Thanksgiving morning against undefeated Ansonia. Naugatuck last won in 2010 at Ansonia to claim the NVL championship. As history has shown, anything can happen on Thanksgiving.
“We know Ansonia is a very good team but we always have chance,” Deitelbaum says. “Our biggest challenge is to come mentally prepared to play to the best of our ability.”
Editor’s note: This article appears in the Citizen’s News’ special Thanksgiving football section published the week of Nov. 25, 2016.