The 5-0 showdown between New Fairfield and Barlow turned out to be a dominant victory for the Falcons who improved to 6-0 with a 47-13 win. The defense was in a “bend, but don’t break” mentality and executed that approach to perfection. The Falcons had a huge stop on a fourth-and-one on the five-yard line on the first drive of the game, and later had an important interception on the one yard line turning the Rebels away again.
Each time the defense held firm, the offense would capitalize on that momentum to get points. After the stop on the first series, Barlow put together one of their patented drives, marching all the way down the field and taking a 7-0 lead. The game was broken wide open in the second quarter when the Falcons were able to score four times in a four-minute span right before the half. With a 40-0 halftime lead, the Falcons cruised home for the win.
There is no rest for the weary, though, as Barlow will be tested on the road this week with perennial powerhouse Newtown. The Nighthawks come into the game with a 5-1 record, their only loss coming to Greenwich in the season opener. They are coming off a 28-14 win over Bunnell in Stratford last week. Newtown is currently 6th in the Class L playoff rankings and will be looking to boost its playoff chances with a win over the Falcons.
Offensively, the Falcons are not exactly sure what defense Newtown will come into the game with. Newtown has traditionally deployed a 4-3 cover 2 team (four defensive linemen and three linebackers with two players in coverage) and that was their primary defensive scheme against Bunnell last week. However, earlier in the season Newtown had shown other defensive looks, including 3-4 style defense and even a 4-2-5 defense. In the last meeting between Barlow and Newtown, they played what looked like a 6-1 defense against the Falcons in an attempt to contain the offense. No matter what defense they show up in, Newtown is always disciplined and technically sound in everything they do. Their defensive line is big and physical, and does a good job of using their hands, while the linebackers are quick and their secondary can fly to the football.
Defensively, the Falcons will need to deal with a team that has had a dominating running attack. The Nighthawks have used an array of one- and two-back sets and a big, physical offensive line to impose their will on opposing defenses. They have also been effective in their passing game as a nice supplement to their running game. In many ways, the two teams have styles that mimic each other. Because of their similar styles, time of possession is going to be at a premium this week and it may come down to one team’s defense making a big stop late in the game.
Barlow guaranteed itself a winning season with the W last week. However, the team’s aspirations are much higher than just a winning record, and a victory this week would kick their playoff hopes into overdrive. As legendary pro wrestler Ric Flair often said, “To be the man you need to beat the man.” Newtown has been the man in the SWC for a number of years, and Friday’s contest will be a big test for a Barlow team looking to contend for a conference title and state championship.
Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Newtown High School.
Photos by Mike Mitchell