NEWTOWN — The eyes of the nation were on the Newtown High School football team this weekend. They made a minor miracle come true on a night with a lot of meaning. They won the state championship in dramatic fashion on the 7th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.
In Newtown on Friday, there was a palpable feeling of sadness. On Monday, you could feel the pride. Someone shouted, “Go Newtown football,” out the window of their vehicle as our news crew was covering the story of the championship win.
For the Newtown NightHawks it was more than a simple victory. It was an emotional triumph. A last ditch heave to the end zone is what’s called in football, a ‘Hail Mary.’ Some say it was divine intervention at work.
“I definitely think our 26 angels were caring those boys. There is no way they weren’t helping out on the field that night,” said Dena Riccio of Newtown.
With just 3 seconds left, Newtown nighthawks quarterback Jack Street dropped back and launched it 36 yards to Riley Ward in the corner of the end zone for the go ahead touchdown to win the state championship.
“I was so proud, I just felt pride,” said Newtown resident Pearl Scalzo.
It was a moment of joy, on a somber day. The 7th anniversary of Sandy Hook. Many fans wore green to mark the day. Longtime resident Dave Eisenbach was overcome with emotion.
“I’ve spent 52 years in this town. My father was a big part of this town my mother went to Sandy Hook school. My mother had a store down in Sandy Hook when this happened we were in the middle of everything for the next month,” Eisenbach recalled.
Many of the players attended the Sandy Hook School in 2012.
“They would be in high school now,” said Scalzo.
The win is making national headlines. The team made an appearance on Sunday Night Football.
“Even Darien was happy for us,” said Riccio. They tweeted that, “while a State Championship loss is never easy to swallow, the joy it is bringing @newtownfootball and the entire #Newtown community is certainly numbing our pain.”
“Hopefully this game helps us get a little further in our recovery,” said Newtown resident Lauren DiMartino
For the NightHawks, it’s their first state championship win in 27 years. No one from the team, coaching staff or administration would talk to us on camera Monday, but the Superintendent said they’ll be planning a celebration at a future Board of Education meeting.
Monday at Newtown High School was spirit day, where students and staff wore their blue and gold colors with pride.