NEWTON, NJ – For the second time this week people gathered on the plaza in front of the Newton Town Hall for a celebration. On Wednesday night Newton High School football team, marching band and coaches were honored with a Key to the City from the Newton Mayor, council and Town Manager. The event was to celebrate the first state championship title for the Brave’s football program.
Newton defeated Lakeland at Kean University to take home the NJSIAA North 1, Group 2 title.
With a firetruck escort, the team arrived in a bus to the cheers of fans and family who braved the cold to honor the Braves. Filing by the coach on their way to the podium many of the boys stopped to share a hug and a handshake.
Town manager Thomas S. Russo Jr., Newton Superintendent Dr. Kennedy Greene,Newton High School Principal Jeff Waldron, Mayor Wayne Levante, Deputy Mayor Kevin Elvidge, council members Helen LeFrois, Daniel Flynn, Sandra Diglio and Municipal Clerk Lorraine Mead were all on hand to be a part of the first Key ceremony for the Newton High School Football team.
Newton High School alumni led the crowd in singing the National Anthem.
“You have made the town and the whole area proud with your perfect 12-0 season,” Coach Kenny Teets said starting off the event. “Your hard work, determination and never say no attitude are a good example to the youth football players.”
The coach, himself involved with youth football program told the boys the lesson they taught the younger players was “whether you’re a starter or a backup, continue to work hard and you will succeed.”
Finally, the coach shared the team’s season long philosophy of ‘get in the wheelbarrow,’ explaining that the message called on the boys to “not only trust yourself and your ability but to trust your teammates and their ability.”
Levante told the boys their “hard work and determination have paid off and Newton moral and pride has never been so high. To say we are proud is an understatement.”
Greene said, “On behalf of the board of education, I am congratulating the team and the coaches for their accomplishments. As a player and I coach I know the feeling, though not as big or as perfect.”
The superintendent told the boys that the Lafayette Superintendent had congratulated him on the team being classy. “Others work hard and have talent but they are not always classy,” Greene said. “It was evident in your interactions with the other teams and the way you congratulated the fans. Many may not notice but superintendents notice and colleges notice. Hard work and talent are important but how you do thing is important too.”
Waldron spoke about the support the team had including having “the home crowd on the road with you and the band backing you in all weather. “
“Great players give the opportunity to win, great coaches put it all together,” Waldron said.
He spoke of the example the team made for the younger Newton High School students. When at the beginning of the season some of the freshmen and sophomore “were not sure how to act” at the games, the athletic director told the principal he was not worried because he knew the players would teach them how to be good fans.
Waldron said, “You’ve inspired future generations of fans… You make us all feel like champions.”
Braves Quarterback and senior Luke Young said, “It still hasn’t set in. We feel like we could put our helmets on today and go play. Thank you for all of your support, including the staff of Green and Andover.”
Young went on to say the championship, a first in the history of the Brave’s program “has put Newton on the map. They can’t say they don’t know who Newton is any more.”
Young lamented it was the end for the seniors but “now it’s time for the younger players to pick up where we left off and get more rings for Newton.”
Coach Matt Parzero spoke of the experience provided for the youth football players with the first summer camp allowing them to interact with varsity players. “They were able to be on the sidelines for the Westfield game, it made a big impression on them and they are still talking about that today.”
He thanked Russo and the Key presentation event organizers for the “chance to ride the bus with the boys one more time.”
Parzero thanked the band. Working with band director Steven O’Toole from the start of the season the band “created the ideal football atmosphere along with the cheerleaders. The first thing the players did after each game was to sprint over to thank the fans while you played the fight song.”
To the players the coach cautioned, “never forget why you were successful. You worked hard and were not selfish. Remember after college and when you are working to give back like others did for you.”
Levante was presented with a team jersey. Levante said it would be “framed to hang in town hall forever.”
The ceremony closed with Russo and Levante presented the large ceremonial key and the unfurling of a banner to hang on the front of town hall.