The Falcons were served a dose of reality on Friday night when they traveled to Blue and Gold Stadium in Newtown. The final score was a respectable 30-20 in favor of the Nighthawks, but Newtown remained in control for most of the game.

Barlow is ranked fourth in the state heading into Saturday’s SWC matchup against Bethel.

Barlow did things on Friday that they have been able to avoid for the most part throughout the season. They took too many penalties and turned the ball over several times. They let Newtown take them out of their game on offense.

Defensively, the Falcons fought hard and stood tall on several occasions during the game, but the defense was asked to do too much. The offense never really got into a rhythm and remained helter-skelter for much of the game.

This week’s game on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m., will be special since it has many factors that make it both exciting and interesting. First and foremost, it is Senior Day, the last guaranteed home game for a group of seniors who have helped put Barlow football in the top tier in the South-West Conference. Secondly, it is homecoming, which always seems to get people amped up and excited for the game. Lastly, it is the Battle of 58 as Bethel will take the short trip down Route 58 to take on their longtime rivals from Easton and Redding. Bethel has been struggling of late, but a win in a game like this can turn a season around quickly, which means they will be motivated and ready to play.

The team will be collecting nonperishable items and grocery store gift cards at the gate as part of its Falcons Against Hunger fall football food drive.

The Falcons will need to regroup and get healthy as they look to make a final push for the playoffs down the home stretch.

Offensively, Barlow expects Bethel to show up and play either a 5-3 or a 5-2 defense (five down defensive linemen and two linebackers). This has been the Wildcat’s standard defense against the Falcons for several years now. Bethel’s defensive line has some decent size and will look to plug holes and stifle Barlow’s running game. Bethel’s linebackers have been very aggressive toward the line of scrimmage in recent weeks and the Falcons will need to stick to their assignments and know who to block.

Defensively, the Falcons will need to be aware of Bethel’s intricate offensive running attack. They often try to pull a couple of linemen or use an extra back to lead the way for their running backs. Bethel will also try to spread Barlow’s defense out by using three and four wide receiver sets. They have a couple of talented receivers that could cause problems for Barlow’s secondary if the defense is not assignment-sound. The Wildcats hope to be able to keep the score close and be able to pull the game out late. The Falcons need to be sure not to afford them this opportunity.

Barlow took its first loss of the season last week. They need to pick themselves up, lick their wounds and refocus on Saturday’s game with the goal of ending this week with a 1-0 record. The Falcons are still right in the thick of the state playoff picture, but they cannot afford to stumble again this week.

Game time is 3 p.m on Saturday at Joel Barlow High School.

The team will also be collecting nonperishable items and grocery store gift cards at the gate as part of its Falcons Against Hunger fall football food drive.

Photos by Mike Mitchell

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