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Football Panthers looking for 4-1 start

October 12, 2018

The bye week might not have come at the best time for the Pomperaug football team with its winning ways, but it was sure met with extra energy and optimism.

After several down seasons the Panthers are back to positive vibes, posting a 3-1 record ahead of its trip to Branford on Friday. Former Panther player and assistant coach Tony Pereira has helped lead the resurgence.

“There’s obviously a lot positive energy,” said Pereira. “The kids are upbeat and positive because they’ve invested time and the hard work (is) paying off, and thus far our record shows the hard work.”

It’s been an old formula of pounding the rock with a pair of solid backs behind a punishing offensive line that’s led the resurgence. Alex Hummel and Jake Oldham have carried the bulk of the load, with Oldham coming away with three touchdowns in a 24-22 win over Weston before last week’s bye.

“(Oldham) has very good vision, he can glide when he needs to and run north and south,” Pereira said. “ Hummel does not get the same attention because he hasn’t scored as many touchdowns as Jake but he’s a hard runner and a kid who gets first downs just by pushing the pile two or three yards. He’s a good compliment.”

Senior David Satkowski has set the tone along the offensive line. The 6-foot-4, 260 pounder is one of the best men in the trenches in the conference, and is getting attention from college coaches, Pereira said.

“He’s one of our leaders and captains,” said Pereira, a former lineman himself. “He’s been a three-year starter and they depend on him to execute every Friday. He’s got great size obviously but he has great feet for his size. He’s a tireless worker who wants to continue to get better.”

The Panthers have already emerged as cardiac kids at the halfway point. In addition to holding off the Trojans, Pomperaug won a dramatic 42-41 overtime decision over East Lyme in the home opener. The visitors went for and failed on a potential 2-point conversion after scoring a touchdown with their possession.

“They’re playing for each other, their school and community,” Pereira said. “The message really resonated to them and they want to be the foundation for the program going forward. Our senior class has invested three or four years into the program and they want to leave something behind.”

The lone setback so far was a resounding one, as Masuk claimed a 45-7 win in Week 3.

The second week of the crossover series between the SWC and SCC holds a little extra history to Pereira. The last time Pomperaug and Branford met was the 2004 MM final — a 30-7 Panthers win. It was Pereira’s first year as a voluntary assistant with the Panthers. Branford also sits at 3-1 and will be a tough challenge.

“It would mean that our program is meeting expectations,” Pereira said. “We’re a work in progress whether we are 4-1 or 3-2. 4-1 would mean a lot because it validates the work that’s been invested.”

Pomperaug has SWC contenders Newtown (Oct. 19) and Bunnell (Nov. 19) left on the schedule, and matchups against Stratford, New Milford and ND-Fairfield as it chases a winning season. Three of the next four are on the road starting Friday.

rlacey

@bcnnew.com;

@ryanlacey11

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