Woodland football alumni club making strides

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BEACON FALLS — It wasn’t long ago that the Woodland Hawks were crowned kings of the Naugatuck Valley League on the gridiron, putting together a torrid, 24-1 record while capturing the school’s first two NVL and Class SS state championships in 2004 and 2005.

Now, the core group of players from those squads is returning to the Woods to add a new dimension to the tradition it helped begin years ago with the start of the Woodland Football Alumni Club.

The club, which is still in its infancy after being created in July 2009, is led by Tim Hutvagner, former captain and starting center from the 2004 NVL and Class SS state championship squad. Hutvanger says the club was the brainchild of former head coach Chris Anderson and current leader Tim Shea.

“I was talking with Anderson and Shea last year and they were talking about a club that was just run by alumni,” Hutvagner said. “They thought of one person who could do it and they thought of me. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ I think this was always talked about. We went through college and now people come back. It’s been going great so far.”

Shea says Hutvagner was the natural choice to lead the club and that he’s excited for what the group is going to do for the football program.

“This is something right up Tim’s alley,” Shea said this week. “These guys have always been the first to do everything here—they were the first varsity sport and won the first league and state championships. It’s a long way away before they have kids, so they’re doing what they can do now to help us out. I speak for Coach Anderson when I say we all appreciate it.”

Hutvagner says that since the group is so new and many alumni are still in college or the military, the club is still small and looking for members to make it bigger and better.

“There are about nine of us right now,” Hutvagner said. “I contacted a bunch of guys from the ‘04 team, and it’s gone very well so far. It’s open to anyone who wants to join; you just have to have played in your senior year of high school. We have a Facebook page and anyone can find me there to join. We usually have a meeting once a month or so. The hard thing now is that we’re so young. Everyone’s in college or the military now and haven’t come back yet.”

Still, the low starting membership hasn’t deterred the club from becoming actively involved in the Woodland football program. The group has held a number of fundraisers within the last year, including a season kickoff pizza party which Hutvagner hopes can turn into a yearly tradition.

“We made $100 off of it,” Hutvagner said. “I’m hoping to start a new tradition that the weekend before practice starts we can have a pizza party every year. Hopefully, it can get some excitement around town for the start of football season.”

Hutvagner says the club will be holding more fundraisers soon to help earn money with which it hopes to give back to the football team in the form of equipment or scholarships.

“This past May, we gave out $500 in scholarships,” Hutvagner said. “If it wasn’t for school, then football wouldn’t be there. We think that higher education is always important. Also, maybe down the line they need new uniforms or new equipment. We’d like to step in and get something for the team.”

Of course, Hutvagner would like the club to help return alumni to games and maintain strong fan support for a team that has always had a loyal following in the Valley.

“Players have been in the program and we don’t want to see it fall apart,” Hutvagner said. “It’s a way to have kids come back to a football game. If we get this club going, we get people to see it’s the Ansonia game, the Naugatuck game, or the Thanksgiving game, and want to come out. What happened five years ago wasn’t a fluke. We’re here to stay. We made our mark. We’re always going to be a tough game on the schedule.”