Panthers ready for opener vs. Sherman

NAUGATUCK – The Tug Valley High School football team will unveil their newly grass sodded playing surface as they play host to the Sherman Tide on Friday dnight to open the 2015 season.

The game has been dubbed theTug Valley Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Kickoff Classic.

ARH is sponsoring the game and has purchased the time clocks for the end zones that will help allow the Panthers to host playoff games.

ARH CEO Tim Hatfield said he was pleased to be able to help Tug Valley High School with their new project.

“We are sponsoring hats for the TV players, doing some banners and two time clocks for the field. We also are giving the football team a donation to offset some of their travel expense. We want to be part of the continued success of the Tug Valley Panthers football,” Hatfield said.

Coach Tony Clusky and the Panthers are coming off their best season ever. They made it to the Class A semifinals last year.

Tug Valley returns several starters from last year including senior quarterback Tyler Conley, senior fullback Phillip Lucas senior all-state lineman Dusty Mills.

Jeremy Dillon, who will only be a sophomore, returns as an all-purpose back. Dillon was an all-state selection last year as a freshman.

Other starters returning included senior linebacker Clay Warf, senior wideout Calvin Blankenship, senior halfback/wide out/free safety Corbin Oliver and senior Dylan Dotson, another senior running back/defensive end will give the Panthers plenty of experience and leadership this season.

Clusky said his squad is eager to get the season started and he hopes to have a huge crowd out for the first home game of the season.

The Sherman Tide is coached by J.D. Fairchild and said this year’s team has “nowhere to go but up.”

“We have to make them believe that they can win. We expect to win,” Fairchild said. “They have the talent, strength and speed. They just have to go out there on the field and do it.”

Fairchild said one way he is going to accomplish his goal of having a winning team is to bring back the old Sherman Tide football traditions.

“We have lifted lots of weights,” Fairchild said. “We lifted in the off-season, we are lifting before practice and we feel it’s that important. This team is much faster and stronger than last year’s squad.”

The Tide offense is expected to be led by senior running back Kyle Davis and junior quarterback Bailey Kirk.

“Kyle is running hard and seeing the holes really well,” Fairchild said. “Bailey is throwing real well and reading defenses.”

Sherman has a core of wide receivers that could run running routes.

Kickoff time is 7:30 p.m. at the TVHS field.
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