Panthers A-Maroon squad honored in win

On Sunday at Rye Street Park, the South Windsor Panthers organization honored A-Maroon team players, as well as their head coach, Dave Hodge.

In a pregame ceremony each of the 27 A-Maroon players were recognized for their years of service (list below) as they were escorted onto the field by their parents. Once at midfield the team was joined by members of the other four Panthers teams, past players, as well as current members of the high school team so that Panther Coach and President Dave Hodge could be honored:

“Dave has always taught the boys football at a high level, never allowing their age to be considered a handicap. Coach Hodge stresses that the league’s minimum play rules are too low and has continually ignored it, getting all of his players on the field for far more than the league minimum, realizing that the ultimate goal is not necessarily to win that particular day, but rather to develop as many good football players as possible… Beyond what Dave has done on the field, the impact off the field has been equally outstanding. His expectations for the boys’ behavior, grades, and sportsmanship will reach further into his players’ lives than anything that they’ve accomplished as a Panther football player.”

The day’s game featured a matchup of two of the CTYFL’s premier teams, with the Panthers hosting the Berlin Bears, both teams entering the game with 5-1 records.

The teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions with the Panthers scoring on a 42 yard run by fullback Ankit Saini and the Bears matching with a 25 yard run of their own.

On the Panthers’ second possession quarterback Connor Kapisak led an eight play, 62-yard drive that took the rest of the first quarter and included a 15-yard run by halfback Jacques Bouquot, a 16-yard run by Saini, and ending in a 3-yard dive by fullback Will Nowak.

In the second quarter the sturdy Panther defense did its job by holding Berlin to 8 yards (10 passing and -2 running) and were led by linemen Muhammad Hassan, Matt Kennedy, Mike Gore, Matt Pereria, and Chad Croxford and aided by linebackers Brendan Mabey, Julian Ibes, Ales Valente, Matt Smith, Nowak and Saini.

The Panthers scored on two of three second quarter possessions. First, Quarterback Adam Harz engineered a seven play, 55-yard drive featuring 22- and 23-yard runs by fullback Smith and culminating with halfback Gavin Duff punching it in from the three yard line. The next drive was quick, with South Windsor halfback Randy Holmes scoring on the second play, a 71-yard run that benefitted from key blocks by guards Mabey and Valente, and split end EJ Kelly.

At the half South Windsor had a 28-8 lead.

South Windsor’s defense stayed strong in the third quarter, not letting Berlin’s usually-solid running game to get on track, holding them to just 17 yards. Although the Bears continually tried to get outside they were contained by Panther cornerbacks Benett Saylor, Bun Custer, Harz and Duff and chased down by safeties Colin Ryan, Michael Bazzano, Kelly, Holmes, and Bouquot.

In the second half the Panthers took to the air, with Kapisak completing passes to tight end Will Pineo who made a great over-the-shoulder catch (1 reception for 26 yards), split end Custer (2 for 10), and slot receiver Bouquot (1 for 15). On the day Kapisak was 4 of 7 for 51 yards. Pineo’s catch got the ball deep in to Berlin territory and led to a 12-yard touchdown run by Bazzano.

To begin the fourth quarter the Bears were able to move the ball and added their second score but were answered by a nine play Panthers drive that began with a 42-yard scamper by Smith and ended with Saini bouncing outside for a 10-yard touchdown run. Any hopes of Berlin scoring again were dashed when they couldn’t pick up the Panthers’ kickoff and the ball was recovered by Holmes. Quarterback Harz took a knee and the game ended with a score of South Windsor 44-Berlin 16.

For the game the Panthers amassed 377 yards rushing, with Saini (2 TDs) and Smith each rushing for over 100 yards and Homes (74 and 1 TD), Nowak (30, 1 TD), Bouquot (15), Bazzano (12, 1 TD), and Duff (5, 1 TD). All of this was made possible by the great play of the offensive line, including Kobe Davis, Jimmy Tamburro, Tito Pasqualoni, Gore, Mabey, Valente, Croxford, Saylor, Ibes, Pineo, Hassan, and Kennedy and anchored by centers Dylan Jones and Pereira.

Captains for the game were Bouquot, Hassan, Mabey, and Jones and the team was cheered on from the sidelines by injured teammate Dylan Hodge. Up next for the Panthers is another tough game with big playoff implications as the team travels to Rocky Hill to take on the 6-1 Terriers at 11:00 AM on Sunday.

Panthers A-Maroon Players by years of service:

3 years:

Tito Pasqualoni

Ankit Saini

Will Pineo

Randy Holmes

4 years:

Matt Kennedy

Muhammad Hassan

​Alex Valente

Mike Gore

​5 years:

Ben Custer

​Gavin Duff

Matt Pereira

Julian Ibes

EJ Kelly

6 years:

Kobe Davis

Dylan Jones

Benett Saylor

Chad Croxford

Jacques Bouquot

Will Nowak

Colin Ryan

Michael Bazzano

​Matt Smith

7 years:

Jimmy Tamburro

Connor Kapisak

Brendan Mabey

Adam Harz

Dylan Hodge

–By Scott Higgins

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