Newington's Austyn Howe catches a pass over Platt's Brandon Carrion during the Nor'easters 39-22 win over Nov. 5
Newington’s Austyn Howe earned headlines as a star wide receiver this fall.
But to define him by a single position would be undervaluing the prolific senior.
Howe was the ultimate utility player for the Nor’easters, playing several roles including: receiver, returner, halfback, quarterback, free safety, strong safety and much more.
Multiple hats was something that Howe embraced and thrived in, putting up video game-like numbers this season as Newington won seven of ten games.
Following the COVID-cancellation of 2020, it was unclear how Newington would fare this season. Howe and his teammates took that personally.
“I knew we would have a good team,” said Howe, who enjoyed silencing the doubters. “Everyone was putting us down and didn’t think we’d be that good. We were successful in the passing league and we have some kids that are super dedicated in the weight room, so I knew we would be pretty good this season.”
Behind a rock solid offensive line and a slew of talented skill position players, Newington’s offense put up near-historic numbers, scoring 38.3 points per game, which ranks second all-time in the program’s history behind only the 1979 state champion team that scored 41 points per game.
Howe credited the team’s success with the offseason passing leagues, the countless hours in the weight room, and the 5:30 a.m. practices on the town’s turf.
Once the dust had settled on the 2021 season, Howe had amassed nearly 1,200 yards from scrimmage and scored 21 touchdowns (14 receiving, six rushing, and one on a return). He also threw three touchdowns.
Two seasons ago, as a sophomore, Howe was a deep threat who hauled in nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns, including a 93-yarder in an upset of previously undefeated Maloney at Alumni Field.
Because of an injury to starting quarterback Nick Pestrichello, Howe played behind center in the team’s playoff game in 2019. The experience from that season carried him through the disappointment of 2020’s cancellation and hardened him for his senior year.
“It helped me push my limits and get in the weight room,” stated Howe. “That whole year I was able to work out because we didn’t have football. It gave me that drive and passion knowing it was my last year, and because I missed that year I had some catching up to do.”
He added that even though competition was canceled last fall, just being with the team helped him through the ordeal.
Once full contact football started back up this fall, Howe and junior quarterback Paddy Brown filled the air with footballs and stuffed the stat sheets.
Following a season-opening win over Enfield, the team exploded for a season-high 52 points in a victory over Manchester. Brown threw five touchdowns, three going to Howe, who finished with 224 yards from scrimmage and added a rushing touchdown.
“After that game we knew we had something special,” said Howe, “We knew we had a lot of playmakers.”
Brown would go on to break the program record with 30 touchdown passes, most going to Howe and Josiah Ross.
Howe and Ross formed a dangerous receiving tandem that caused fits for opposing defenses. Ross broke a program record with 61 catches, adding 826 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns through the air.
Both receivers had a noticeable rapport with Brown, a chemistry the trio created in the offseason. The three had the freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage if they saw man coverage. Often Brown would throw in Howe’s direction even if he was covered because the 6’1” receiver had a knack for high-pointing the ball and making circus catches.
Howe said that his basketball background helped with those 50/50 balls, adding, “It’s something that just came naturally to me. It started sophomore year and it was just about getting that time down with Paddy. He knows when to throw it and where to throw it.”
Perhaps most impressively was the 13 two-point tries Howe converted this fall. To put that in perspective, Marshall Faulk has the most two-point conversions in the history of the National Football League with seven, spanning 176 games over his 12-year NFL career.
Newington’s two-point specialist converted a majority of those 2-pointers taking direct snaps behind center, following senior linemen Jordan Middlebrooks and Sam Cultera across the goal line.
Howe said the statistics were the a product of a team effort and added that he was proud being a part of the “winning culture” that head coach Jason Pace has preached since taking over in 2017.
“[The seniors] can leave and the underclassmen can follow those footsteps,” said Howe, who also intercepted six passes defensively this fall.
His effort's this fall earned Howe a spot on the CHSCA Top 26 All-State team, which fittingly recognizes the best players in the state regardless of position.
Howe, who is involved with several National Honor Societies at NHS, will now turn his attention to baseball season in the spring. He plans to continue playing football in college and is currently mulling his opportunities.
One thing is for certain. Wherever Howe goes and whatever role is asked of him, the local jack-of-all-trades will flourish in any setting.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin