Hawks carry momentum into challenges ahead

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By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland football team took some momentum into a challenging final month of the season.

The Hawks improved to 4-2 with a 42-7 win over Oxford on Oct. 22, a bounce-back effort following two straight losses to Torrington and Holy Cross.

Quarterback Darren Gasparri led the way with a 14-of-18 effort for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Nate Bodnar caught six of those passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, while Joshua Morales caught touchdown throws of 8 and 11 yards. Mason Mastropietro and Ben Brooks also scored rushing touchdowns, and the Hawks’ defense allowed just a third-quarter touchdown in the rout.

Woodland coach Joe Lato is impressed with his quarterback’s growth in his first season as a starter.

“Darren is a special player and is always doing the lonely work, watching film to always find ways to get better,” Lato told the Republican-American.

Bodnar continues to lead the team in a number of ways, Lato added. His strengths benefit the Hawks in a variety of ways.

“Nathan is a warrior,” Lato told the Rep-Am. “He’s always been one of the best athletes in town (Beacon Falls) in basketball and in Little League. In football, he has good hands, wants the ball. You want to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. That speaks volumes for what he does for us. He’s a very well-respected kid.”

Lato, too, is enjoying his first season at the helm of the Hawks after spending the previous seven years at Masuk. The Beacon Falls resident is getting to coach his sons, Tyler and Brett, as well as the Junior Hawks’ seventh- and eighth-grade team.

“Reconnecting with the kids is kind of cool,” Lato said. “The kids are special, a truly amazing group.”

Woodland is set for a challenging last four games of the regular season. It starts Oct. 29 at Wolcott, followed by a Nov. 5 home date with Ansonia. The Hawks will renew their rivalry with Naugatuck on Nov. 12, and they’ll host holiday rival Seymour on Thanksgiving eve.

“Whatever happens and how the rest of the season shakes out, it’s been a positive experience,” Lato said.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.