The New Milford Bulls Pee Wee team almost didn’t have a football season. So how did they end up second in the State? It’s a good story and Coach Todd Lawson helps me tell it.
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is?
The opportunity to play.” Mike Singletary
The New Milford Bulls Pee Wee football team began practicing in early August. With the same coaches from the previous year and many returning players, the idea of bringing home the Northern Connecticut Regional Championship was a definite possibility.
The first week of practice
After losing several players to the Jr. Midget team early on, the first hurdle would be finding enough players to field a team. A Pee Wee team needs 16 players 10 to 12 years of age who can make weight; this team was short by at least three players and even then there would be no allowance for injuries or sickness.
With final validations looming and practices going into the second week, the players and coaches went out recruiting the town. By mid-August the roster was up to 20 and a couple of later additions pushed them into a safety zone of 22, just in time for the pre-season jamboree.
Pee Wee Jamboree
After two solid weeks of practicing with the new players, Head Coach Jeff Lee and assistants Todd Lawson, Greg Rufa, Josh Thompson and Robert Best knew they had a special group of young athletes. Practices were sharp, intense and focused. This team was ready.
The Bulls had a solid showing at the jamboree and the first three weeks brought mercy-rule victories over rivals Wolcott, New Fairfield, and Pomperaug. Week four found the Bulls in Plainville having let in an early touchdown (the only touchdown of the season up to that point) and fighting hard to come back from a 6-0 deficit. Late in the game on a long drive the Bulls tied it up and walked away knowing what they needed to do.
Lots of hard work and practice over the remaining weeks saw the Bulls go undefeated for the next three games on their way to first place; only a rematch with Plainville stood in their way.
It wasn’t easy; Plainville came to play and wanted that first place title for themselves. After a tense, hard-fought battle, the Bulls garnered a 19-0 win and the number one seed for the Northern Connecticut playoffs.
New Milford Bulls vs New Fairfield Regular Season Game
A decisive 29-0 first-round playoff victory over New Fairfield meant Plainville, once again, stood in the Bulls road, this time to the title of Northern Connecticut Champs.
First Round Playoff Game New Milford vs New Fairfield
On a beautiful day with a comfortable lead the Bulls never let Plainville get control. They earned their championship, defeated Plainville 24-13 and set their sites on Trumbull. The State Championship Game was next.
Northern Connecticut Championship Game New Milford vs Plainville
Terry Bradshaw once said, “When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.” On that November Sunday the Bulls played like they had something to prove. Down 20-0 at the half they pulled it together to score a pair of touchdowns, but it just wasn’t enough. Their undefeated season ended with a heartbreaking 34-14 loss to Trumbull.
State Championship Game New Milford vs Trumbull
While the loss is tough, the Bulls Pee Wee team had a great season finishing with an overall record of 9-1-1, including the title of Northern Connecticut Champions and placing 2nd in the state. For a team that almost didn’t get to compete because they didn’t have enough players, that record is certainly something to be proud of.
The New Milford Bulls Pee Wee Football Team 2015
Players, from left to right:
With Trophy: Youssef Eltouky, Blaze Thompson
Front Row: Marco Delima, Luke Mirabito, Matt Hernandez, Jack Rufa, Devin Jasso, Kyle Lee, Thomas Verdiglione, Nick Sturino, Matt Crookshank, Matt Viserto, Evan Shook
Second Row: Christian Mendoza, Jake Wilton, Joey Lacava, Chandler Coe, Nathan Lawson, Kenny Pickle, Ricky Ganser
Back Row: Team Mom April Mirabito, Head Coach Jeff Lee, Defensive Coordinator Greg Rufa, Offensive Coordinator Todd Lawson, Assistant Wyatt Smiley, Assistant Coach Robert Best, Ian Lee and Assistant Coach Josh Thompson
Not Pictured: Damien Hay