Northeast quarterback David Donahue steps into a throw during the Bulls 30-6 win over the New England Flyers at Windsor High on July 24
The Northeast Bulls, a semi-professional football team, is playing home games at Glastonbury High School this summer.
2021 is the inaugural year for the new franchise, which was formed by owners Mike Wade, Lester Maldonado, and Jose Cortes.
“We are trying to build a family environment,” said Maldonado, who is the head coach, “For a first-year team I think we’ve done better than others. People know us, they respect us, and I think when you have that people want to play for you.”
“Some are these guys are coming from college, some are still trying to play in college, so they use this film to get to the next level,” added Cortez, who is the offensive coordinator, “Coming from last team we played on, we thought it could even be better so we tried to offer a place where you don’t have to worry about anything other than playing football.”
Maldonado and Cortez both played football at Bulkeley High in Hartford before making the local semi-pro rounds, winning a pair of championships as players in the New England Football League.
The pair of former Bulldogs made the transition to owners/coaches, creating the Bulls in the East Coast Football League. The ECFL, a full contact league in its seventh season, includes teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine
With the help of Glastonbury’s Parks and Rec, the Bulls were able to schedule home games at GHS.
“You can tell that Glastonbury loves football. We played against Glastonbury in high school, and it felt like the whole town was there,” stated Maldonado, “That’s the reason when we all got together that we thought about Glastonbury High. We were hoping to get the town behind us. We can bring something much bigger than football, like community service, clinics for the kids, flag football, there’s a lot of possibilities.”
Glastonbury has proven to be perfect location for the Bulls, who dropped two road games to start the season before rebounding with back-to-back wins at GHS.
Last Saturday they picked up a third straight win, defeating the New England Flyers 30-6 in a physical game at Windsor High School. The Bulls excelled in all three phases on the game, registering their most lopsided victory of the season.
Quarterback David Donahue engineered an offense that scored on the team's opening possession when the signal caller connected with Jon Cahill from three yards out. The QB-WR tandem would hook up several times in the game, and Donahue extended several drives with his legs.
In the first half, the Bulls defense overwhelmed the Flyers, causing two turnovers and holding the home team scoreless over the first 30 minutes. Ezequil Ortiz and Tavon Royster each had interceptions, while Connor Eastman, Jayson Gardner, and Anthony Davis had sacks in the first half.
Byron Breland extended the lead on the opening kickoff of the second half when he snagged a line drive kick before breaking a pair of tackles and sprinting up the right sideline for a 57-yard touchdown.
CJ Galindez, who also forced and recovered a fumble on defense, later added a 23-yard touchdown scamper and Octavio Thomas polished off the scoring with a seven-yard TD run. The Bulls sizable offensive line took over in the second half as the Bulls dominated time of possession behind the powerful running of Amari Osbourne.
It was the type of performance that the coaching staff has been waiting to see.
Cortez credits the team’s turnaround to moral and chemistry, “After a while it almost feels like a job out here and when you lose it doesn’t make it any better, so we went back to the drawing board and tried and make adjustments and make it fun, because at the end of the day it’s football. We want a championship, but we also want the guys to enjoy the time out there and that’s the biggest thing.”
For all the players winning is important, but the opportunity to continue doing what they love in front of family and friends is the main focus.
“It’s a family atmosphere out here,” said Maldonado, “It’s nice for families to come watch their husband, brother, uncle play. That is what makes semi-pro so much fun. It’s nice for people to get out on a Saturday and enjoy some football with their family.”
Cortez added, “I told the guys the other day that this is like our sanctuary. Not just for the players and coaches, but also some of the family members. No matter what you are going through at home, you can come out and relax and not worry about anything else that is happening.”
The Bulls play the next two Saturdays at GHS, facing the Havernhill Hitmen on July 31 and the Hartford Rebels on August 7. Both games kickoff at 5:30 p.m. Tickets came be purchased at the gate for $8.00, and children 12-and-under are free.
For more information about the Bulls or the ECFL, visit www.ecfl.us
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin