The 4th grade football team from Glastonbury won the Shoreline Sugar Bowl on Nov. 13. Front row: Sawyer Gulbrandsen, Nico Squires, Johnny Overstrom, Joey Finan, Killian Ortiz-Scalora, Louie Taigen, Rhys Williams, Nick Twilley, Frank Bates. Middle row: Kody Wolf, Caleb Collins, Paul Gacek, Nolan Sullivan, Nick Cavallo Garlasco, Jack Hurwitz, Ryan Finnerty, Liam Gonzalez, Charles Collins. Top row: Assistant Coach Jason Squires, Assistant Coach Justin Wolf, Head Coach Jeff Finnerty, Assistant Coach Mark Finan, Assistant Coach Scott Hurwitz, and Assistant Coach Kyle Trudeau
Glastonbury’s 4th Grade football team defeated Shelton 24-13 to win the 2022 Shoreline Conference Sugar Bowl on Nov. 13.
After finishing the regular season 4-4, the team consisting of both 3rd and 4th graders, won a pair of games in the postseason to capture the Sugar Bowl trophy.
Head coach Jeff Finnerty said that it took some time for the young team to gain confidence because over half of the roster was in the 3rd grade and most of the 4th graders were playing contact football for the first time.
“For such a young team they were eager to learn. They were good kids that worked hard,” stated Finnerty, who said he could see the eight- and nine-year-old players getting better with each practice. “I was really impressed with the kids and their ability to remain focused.”
After starting the season with a lopsided loss, the team found their footing in game two.
Finnerty said that the first game allowed the players to get the jitters out and they learned what it was like to play for all four quarters.
“For about 70% of the team that was the first time they had been on the field in a real game,” added Finnerty. “Guys started to understand the game of football and the rules, and we got better every week.”
By the end of the season, the team was clicking on all cylinders, winning four of their final five games.
Finnerty said the team’s motto for each practice was just to get better than were the previous day, adding, “It was really a testament to their hard work.”
The coach was most impressed with his team’s ability to overcome adversity in games. Late in the season, the Guardians overcame a halftime deficit against Monroe and then shook off an early turnover in the Sugar Bowl victory over Shelton.
Finnerty, who has been coaching youth football in Glastonbury since 2015, would remind his team that winning games isn’t about 80-yard highlight-reel touchdowns but rather about stacking small accomplishments together throughout the game.
“That is a tough thing for kids to learn,” stated Finnerty. “It's about playing defense and sustaining that effort. It’s the ability to work together, all 11 guys at once.”
Finnerty’s son, Connor Finnerty, went through the youth ranks and is now a high school freshman football player who played on the freshman team at Glastonbury High School that recently finished undefeated.
Over the last two years, the GHS freshman team has won 19 of 20 games. In a handful of years, the current 3rd and 4th graders from the Sugar Bowl will have a chance to have similar success at the high school ranks.
“These guys will be playing together when they are juniors and seniors in high school at Glastonbury High,” Finnerty said of the Sugar Bowl group. “These guys will work together and grow together for years to come and that is really exciting to be a part of.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin