New England Football League Militia Honors Sandy Hook Victims | New England Football League


New England Football League

Militia Honors Sandy Hook Victims

NEWTOWN — Offense or defense, before kickoff or before the start of the second half, the Western Connecticut Militia ended every huddle with the same rallying cry:

“Sandy Hook!”

Newtown High"s Blue and Gold Stadium was the backdrop for Saturday"s Helmets and Hearts Newtown Memorial Charity Game, a preseason matchup of New England Football League contenders held in honor of the victims and first responders of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

The Militia defeated the Lowell Nor'easter 17-0 to cap a perfect 4-0 preseason. More importantly, the team honored representatives from the Newtown Police, Newtown Ambulance Corps and five local fire companies in a pregame ceremony, and at halftime Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra and Newtown High football coach Steve George were presented with a check in support of the Newtown Memorial scholarship fund. Additionally, over $1000 in donations were collected.

“I said coming in this is the most important sports event that I"ve ever played in in my whole life,” said receiver Ryan Mack, who won back-to-back state championships as a member of the Danbury High soccer team in the late 1990s. “Nothing meant more to me than coming here today. It"s a special feeling.”

Mack got the Militia on the board with 4:30 left in the first quarter, hauling in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Oberg. The play originally called for Oberg to hook up with his favorite target on a slant route, but the duo locked eyes, Mack broke off his route and headed for the corner of the end zone, virtually uncovered.

“That"s the kind of relationship we have after three years,” Mack said.

With about a minute left in the first half, Courtney Moultrie intercepted a Lowell pass near midfield and nearly returned it for a touchdown, setting up a nine-yard scamper for Mark Mandelson that made it 14-0. Andrew Benicewicz booted a 21-yard field goal in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

With a typically stout defense and a more dynamic offense than in years past, the Militia are hoping their third year in the NEFL is the charm come playoff time.

“This is the most talent we"ve ever had,” Mack said. “Our goal is a ring this year. I"ll be disappointed with anything less than that.”

After the game, Militia head coach Lonnie Young led both teams in a prayer at midfield.

“Minor-league football, semi-pro football, whatever you want to call it — it"s about community, it"s about families,” Young said. “This is just an honor. This is a small fraction of what we can give back to the town. … (The victims) are not forgotten. They will always be in our prayers.”

LOWELL 0 0 0 0 — 0

MILITIA 7 7 0 3 — 17

Records: Western Connecticut Militia 4-0 (preseason).

Scoring: M — Ryan Mack 22 pass from Kevin Oberg (Andrew Benicewicz kick)

M — Mark Mendelson 9 run (Benicewicz kick)

M — Benicewicz 21 field goal

By Chris Brodeur, Sports, Danbury News Times

All Photo Credits: Scott Mullin, Freelancer: Danbury NewsTimes

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