NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds shook off a sluggish start last Friday night to claim a 34-16 season-opening win over Kennedy.
The win did not come easy. The Greyhounds had a rough first half with some errors and turnovers but, nonetheless, head coach Craig Bruno was happy to come out on top.
“A win is a win. It was a tough game. I thought we made a lot of mistake, but we came out winning,” Bruno said. “I thought they [the Greyhounds] played very hard. [It was] a lot of the guys’ first time out there, and they really played hard. I was proud of the effort.”
Naugatuck had some early success. The Greyhounds got on the board first with a 13-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Mike Plasky to Jalen Datil. Tyler Deitelbaum added the two-point conversion. Soon after, Antoine Sistrunk Jr. returned a 14-yard interception for a touchdown and the Greyhounds led 14-0 after the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to Kennedy. The Eagles kept the Greyhounds out of the end zone, while tallying two touchdowns in the process.
After intercepting a high pass in the end zone, Kennedy’s Bryan Garcia-Medina ran 100 yards to give the Eagles their first touchdown of the game. Anthony Delvalle rushed for the two-point conversion.
Soon after, Kennedy had a hard-fought drive on the ground that provided another score by Garcia-Medina and a successful two-point conversion pass to Joey Schaff. The Eagles took a 16-14 lead into halftime.
The Greyhounds pulled it together in the second half.
“It’s a team with a lot of good starters, and there’s going to be some growing pains,” Athletic Director Tom Pompei said. “But I think we held tough. Coach Bruno had a great halftime speech and just settled them down. Then we came out, and we were ourselves in the second half.”
The Greyhounds did just that as they dominated the Eagles in the second half, scoring three touchdowns, yielding none to the Eagles, and keeping mistakes to a minimum.
Deitlebaum got things going in the third quarter with a 24-yard touchdown run to give Naugy the lead for good. Sistrunk added the two-point conversion to put the Greyhounds up 22-14.
Sistrunk added rushing touchdowns of 3 and 13 yards in the fourth to seal the game.
“I feel like we worked hard every down. We didn’t give up,” Sistrunk said. “In the first half we looked a little slow. Sometimes I was feeling down, but I just had to keep my head up. In my mind I was like ‘this is my senior year, and this is my last first game,’ so I had to work hard, and we had to get the W.”
In his first varsity game, Plasky did as well as could have been expected from a new quarterback. The sophomore threw his first touchdown pass as a starter, but also tallied three interceptions in the process. Rather than become overwhelmed, the first-year starter demonstrated mental toughness and maturity as he reflected on his performance.
“[I was just] getting the nerves out a little bit and getting my feet wet, I’ve definitely got good players around me,” Plasky said. “Coach Pompei and Bruno told me [to have a] short-term memory. [If I] throw a touchdown forget about it. [If I] throw an interception forget about it. Football is a long game and you’ve got to move on from that. It was a good learning experience.”
The Greyhounds will take on Holy Cross (1-0) Thursday at 6 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.