Shelton’s seventh grade team went on the road and, during a steady rainfall, blanked host Newtown 12-0 in the first round of the Shoreline Youth Football Conference playoffs on Sunday.
The game began as a defensive battle with both teams exchanging punts while gaining little ground in the wet conditions.
“The rain slowed down the passing game and caused us to miss several opportunities to advance the ball due to dropped passes,” Shelton coach Chuck Sepkaski said.
“There were also two turnovers by both teams from fumbles and interceptions caused by the wet conditions. Earlier in the week we installed some new run formations and short pass plays specifically for the bad weather that we knew was inevitable. This proved to be very effective for us in moving the ball on critical downs,”
Shelton threatened to score when tailback Ayden Sepkaski had a hard run on third down and six to pick up a first down, Osavahn Inthapanya had a nice catch for another first down and Logan Johnson hauled in a 32 yard catch and run.
Newtown’s defense held and took over on downs on its own 14 yard line, but the field position worked in Shelton’s favor.
Newtown went three and out and a blocked punt by Jimmy McGrath and John DeCamps gave Shelton the ball inside the 5 yard line.
A quick pass on a short fade pattern to John DeCamps from quarterback Jake Gigliotti for went Shelton’s first TD. After a missed extra point, it was 6-0, a lead Shelton carried into halftime.
In the second half, Sepkaski and Jake Giliotti and Joey Giliotti both had solid runs to keep the chains moving. Dylan Zielger scored on a QB sneak for a 12-0 lead heading into the fourth.
Shelton’s offensive line of Tyler Radzion, Evan Murrel, Jack Kilmartin, Jake Giard, Sam Paolini, Jason Santos and Logan Johnson got the job done.
Shelton’s defensive line was almost impregnable, with standout performances from Jason Santos and Sam Paolini, both of whom had multiple tackles for losses.
They were supported fellow defensive lineman Tyler Radzion and great efforts at defensive end by Logan Johnson, Jack Kilmartin and Tyler DeSousa.
Amassing double digit tackles each were linebackers Sepkaski and Joey Giliotti.
Linebacker Jimmy McGrath and cornerbacks Nicky DeJesus and Braeden Zielger and safety John DeCamps kept Newtown’s passing game in check, limiting Newtown to just four first downs.
The Shelton defense did not allow the opponent to score for the fifth time this season and committed only one five-yard penalty.
“Everyone was very focused and determined,” Coach Sepkaski said.
Shelton avenged an 8-6 loss to Newtown in the regular season, when an interception return for a touchdown and kick after TD made the difference.
“During that game we blew two opportunities to score. Our kids knew we shouldn’t have lost that game and were determined to prove it this time around,” Sepkaski said.
“The boys played their hearts out on every snap and for all four quarters. As coaches, we can’t ask for more than they gave, nor could we be more proud. Our substitutes all came in and gave great effort to aid in the win.”
Shelton’s next game will be for the Shoreline Conference’s NFC championship at Southington, on Nov. 5.
Southington is undefeated and has scored more points than any other team in the league.
“It will be our toughest game of the season,” said Sepkaski, noting that the winner of that game will advance to the championship game against the winner of the AFC.
Sepkaski, in addition to serving as head coach, is the defensive coordinator and running backs coach. The rest of the staff includes: Braeden Ziegler (offensive coordinator, QB coach); Dave French and Rafael DeSousa (lineman coaches); and Phil DeJesus and Tom Connery (secondary and receivers coaches).