Nearly a year after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., resulted in 26 deaths, the Newtown High School football team completed an undefeated regular season in dedication to the victims.
The Newtown Nighthawks defeated rival Masuk High School by a score of 42-7 to complete a 12-0 campaign.
According to Richard Weizel of Reuters, the team has worn a special helmet decal featuring the number 26 to represent the 20 students and six adults who were lost on Dec. 14, 2012.
Not only did the win cap an undefeated campaign, but it also put Newtown in the driver's seat when it comes to capturing a state title. The Nighthawks are the No. 1 seed in the state playoff tournament, and head coach Steve George realizes that winning the title would help the healing process:
Our players are hungry to win the championship to give everyone in town a great Christmas present and something to feel happy about a year after such a horrible tragedy.
If the Nighthawks reach the championship game, it could potentially be contested on Dec. 14, which would mark the one-year anniversary of the shootings, per Weizel.
Like George, star quarterback Andrew Tarantino, who holds several school records, understands the importance of the team's success in the upcoming playoffs:
Obviously, what our team and community went through the past year was really tough, but we just want to put a smile on everyone's face by bringing home a state championship.
Smiles have been tough to come by in Newtown since 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire in a Sandy Hook Elementary classroom last year before killing himself.
Although nothing can erase the memory of the horrific incident from the minds of those in the community, the Newtown High School football team is doing everything within its power to bring some joy to the area.
Not only will all of Newtown be rooting them on, but it's also safe to say that the rest of the country will be behind them in their quest.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!