TORRINGTON — The Naugatuck football team needed a bounce-back win following its deflating Week 4 loss to rival Woodland. The ‘Hounds got it last Friday in Torrington.
Naugy dominated the inexperienced Red Raiders, allowing just 81 total yards in cruising to a 33-3 victory to improve to 4-1 on the season.
“We played OK,” Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno said. “We were disappointed (about the loss to Woodland) and the kids played hard through it.”
Naugy only got the ball four times in the first half thanks to Torrington’s slow-down style of offense, but the ‘Hounds converted on two of those possessions. They started with an eight-play, 61-yard drive that ended in a Jason Bradley 3-yard touchdown run, and they later added a Kevin Robinson 1-yard touchdown run before the half.
Torrington’s PJ Kilmartin booted a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter for the winless Red Raiders’ only points.
“They slowed the ball down on us so we didn’t have it as much,” Bruno said. “I thought we played very good defense. I know they had their quarterback out (with a knee injury), but we played good defense and tackled well.”
Naugatuck cruised in the second half, adding touchdown runs by Bradley (4 yards) and Tom Douty (45 yards) before Maleek Brooks added an 18-yard interception-return touchdown in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Bruno said the game was a good way to get back to normal after the tough loss to the Hawks. He said the team didn’t take many specific chances from that game, but he noted it was another game under the team’s collective belt with its new coach.
“It’s only my fifth game here and we’ve still got some twitches,” Bruno said. “I don’t know what we learned, but I think we’re getting better every week. The guys are getting used to the way we do things, and I’m just trying to get guys in the right spots.”
He also said refocusing for the Red Raiders was simple despite the Greyhounds suffering their first loss. With only one loss so far, the team is still in the state postseason picture as long as it keeps winning.
“The guys are aware of that, and we’re trying to make sure we don’t look ahead,” Bruno said. “You can’t chase the playoffs or division championships. Our goals are very much in tact and we just have to get better at the simple things.”
The ‘Hounds will try to keep pace this week when they take on Bruno’s former school, Bunnell, on Friday night at Veterans Field. It is a matchup in the first NVL-SWC Challenge between the Naugatuck Valley League and the South-West Conference.
“I would say the line that this is just another game, but I know that’s not true,” said Bruno, who left the Bulldogs after 12 years to become Naugatuck’s head coach in January. “We had a long talk with the team to tell them that the game is not about me. I’m very happy and comfortable with the choice I made, and I wanted them to know it. This game means so much for what we want to accomplish this season.”
While Bruno said he knows many of the players on Bunnell’s team from having coached them, he doesn’t expect that experience to provide much of an advantage. Bulldogs coach Doug Cotto kept none of Bruno’s assistant coaches on staff, so he figures Bunnell’s operation will be different.
“I do know the guys pretty well, but I don’t think it’s an advantage,” Bruno said. “He’s going to do everything differently. We’ve scouted them as much as we’ve scouted everyone else. They probably know more about what I would do because I did similar things when I was there. But we’re trying to prepare like we would be preparing for a game against someone like St. Paul.”