Naugy shakes off slow start

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Naugatuck’s Antoine Sistrunk (1) looks for room to run as Kennedy’s Anthony Delvalle (8) closes in Sept. 11 in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 34-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Naugatuck’s Antoine Sistrunk (1) looks for room to run as Kennedy’s Anthony Delvalle (8) closes in Sept. 11 in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 34-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

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.”

Naugatuck’s Tyler Deitlebaum turns up field after hauling in a pass Sept. 11 versus Kennedy in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 34-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Naugatuck’s Tyler Deitlebaum turns up field after hauling in a pass Sept. 11 versus Kennedy in Naugatuck. Naugatuck won the game, 34-16. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

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.