Football team uses bye week to get back on track
Published 12:40 pm, Wednesday, October 12, 2016
NEW MILFORD - The New Milford High football team is coming off a tough loss, but is still in the midst of one of its best starts in recent memory and will try and get back on track Friday night in a game that could be the season’s turning point.
New Milford is 3-1 after four games and sits in 12th place in the latest Class LL football point rankings. The top eight make the state playoffs. In their last game, the Green Wave were without starting quarterback Tyler Sullivan and faced one of the top teams in the state in Newtown.
The Nighthawks jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back, handing the Green Wave their first loss of the season, 54-8.
The Green Wave get back to work Friday night when they host Notre-Dame Fairfield. Notre Dame is 1-3 on the season and is coming off a bye week as well after a close 14-7 loss to New Fairfield.
Year three of the coach Larry Badaracco era began with a 41-13 victory at Weston and New Milford followed that up with a 47-34 win at Bethel. The Green Wave then opened their home slate with a hardfought 28-19 victory over Pomperaug.
“Some of those close games, I’m not sure we would have won them in the past,” Badaracco said. “This group of kids are now three years in program and they have that fight in them and a desire to come out on top
New Milford started the season 3-0, the first time since the 1998 season that the Green Wave started a season that well. The Green Wave’s quarterback that season was current Pomperaug coach James Reed, whose team New Milford defeated to get to 3-0 this season.
“Things are going the way that we hoped they would after and off season of working hard,” Badaracco said. “Newtown was a tough loss, but starting the season 3-1 is a good thing for the program and the town.”
That Pomperaug loss was both exciting and costly, Sullivan injured a leg in the game and was out against Newtown. Badaracco is hopeful he can make it back for Friday with the bye week coming at a good time.
“We have to do a better job protecting him and get him in situations where he can be successful,” Badaracco said. “He’s a workhorse. He worked so hard on craft and wants to be the best he can be when he is out there. He can really open up the offense and make all the throws we need.”
Sullivan has passed for 871 yards and nine touchdowns so far this season and is the leader of the offense. The offense is exciting because the ball is in the air and Sullivan, wide receiver Max Vaughey and Kendall Green are making some big plays.
What is also exciting is New Milford’s new style of play. No punts, onside kicks after each score and a pedal to the metal approach that may be a bit unorthodox, but is working so far for Badaracco and the Green Wave.
Badaracco adopted the new style after thinking how to inject some life into the program. Badaracco saw Kevin Kelley, coach of Pulaski Academy in Arkansas, and a new era of Green Wave football was born
Kelley’s teams don’t punt, regardless of field position and always attempt onside kicks. Kelley did some research and saw that those strategies gave his team a statistical advantage and Badaracco is looking to do the same for New Milford.
“We have converted over 50 percent of our fourth downs and had a few go for touchdowns and we have recovered a few onside kicks,” Badaracco said. “As long as it continues to work we will keep at it. Right now it works and creates a lot of energy and excitement.”
The Green Wave are now hoping to build on that energy and excitement over the course of the season. There are six games to play and
“Where we want to be is we want ot be in a football game every week and don’t want it to revert back to being a pushover or a circle team that teams want to play,” Badaracco said. “We are capable of doing that.”