NAUGATUCK — The zeroes that seem permanently burned into the opponent’s side of the scoreboard make the Naugatuck football team feel stronger by the week.
The Greyhounds posted their fourth shutout of the season on Oct. 19 with a 56-0 rout of Kennedy at Municipal Stadium. Naugy allowed just 19 points in its first six games, although the toughest part of its schedule awaits in November.
“I think it’s a big boost,” Naugatuck coach Dave Sollazzo said of the rash of goose eggs. “There’s a lot of confidence there. Our kids are really taking to coaching in all three phases. Defensively, we’re really paying attention to detail. We’re running to the football and cutting it loose, really doing what we’re supposed to be doing at the right time.”
It has indeed been a three-phase effort for the Greyhounds. In the victory over Kennedy, Naugy’s Jonathan Vincent and Zack Koslosky scored special-teams touchdowns on a pair of botched punts by the Eagles. Malachi Gatison ran in three more touchdowns, Mike Hill and Dante Miranda each scored once, and Jay Mezzo hit Paul Marsh for a 60-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Naugy has only really been tested once in a 14-0 win to open the season in Wolcott during a game when the Greyhounds were offensively rusty. Since then, the ‘Hounds have cruised and remained ranked No. 9 in last week’s state media poll.
“Good teams handle success the right way and build upon it and continue to improve,” Sollazzo said. “It has to be week to week. You have to be prepared every week. You have to pay the rent every day.”
Two players who have been especially important in keeping Naugy on track are seniors Tyrell Allen and Jayden Anderson. Allen is a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder who has wreaked havoc on the defensive line, while Anderson checks in at 6-4, 175 as a key member of the linebacker corps.
“(They) are both playing very well, consistently and physically,” Sollazzo said. “They’re playing like seniors should play. They’re really making a lot of plays. They’re defeating blocks and making plays from sideline to sideline.”
Sollazzo said both players have attracted college-level interest, an area where the second-year head coach has plenty of experience after spending three decades in Division I coaching.
“I really believe that one of the most important roles as a high school football coach is to get his kids looked at by colleges,” Sollazzo said. “I try to go out of my way to make calls and contact coaches. I was a college coach for 30 years, and I loved it when high school coaches called me to tell me what his players did. College coaches have a very big territory to cover, and they can’t keep track of everyone. The good recruiters look forward to coaches filling them in.”
Naugatuck is 6-0 heading into Friday’s game against Torrington. The Greyhounds will face a difficult closing stretch of the regular season in November with a game at Seymour next Friday, in the borough against Holy Cross on Nov. 9 and at Ansonia on Thanksgiving.
“The most important thing to me is that Naugatuck shows up and is doing what they’re supposed to do,” Sollazzo said. “We have to make sure that we realize we’re playing ourselves. We have to play to our potential. The other team will be there, so it’s just a matter of making sure we’re also there.”