Dunn leads Newtown into physical battle at Shelton
NEWTOWN — When Newtown running back Miles Ricks takes a handoff and looks for a hole, it’s nice for him to see “33” in his own colors in front of him: senior fullback Jared Dunn, backing up the Nighthawks’ tough offensive line.
“I know I’m going to get yards,” Ricks said. “I know he’s going to make a big hit. He’s always very reliable.”
The last of four Dunn brothers to come through the Nighthawks’ program, Jared provides them a 6-foot-2, 220-pound middle linebacker and fullback who, coach Bobby Pattison said, might well be the best player in the family.
It’s “his intensity,” Pattison said. “He’s an all-around great football player. He plays offense, defense. He could kick as well if we needed.
“He defines what it means to be a football kid. He’s tough. He’s physical. He’s gritty. And he has the attitude. I’ve been talking to (college) coaches saying he’s a hammer. There’s nails out there, and he’s hitting them.”
Dunn tweeted a video of his highlights from the first three games a week ago. It starts with a few defensive plays, and then it’s block after block.
“I just love clearing a hole for Miles. It’s always a great feeling for me,” Dunn said. “I see the GameTimeCT posts on pancakes. I love that. That’s just hard-nosed football at its prime.”
Newtown (4-0), No. 5 in this week’s GameTimeCT poll, visits No. 10 Shelton (3-1) on Friday night at 7, two potential Class LL playoff teams in a game set up by the state scheduling alliance. If the matchup loses any luster from Shelton’s loss to Cheshire last week, it’s still two teams that play that same hard-nosed football.
Dunn learned it at home.
“When I was younger, it was kind of tough,” he said. “Short end of the stick, the youngest, always the person getting beaten up in backyard football. But now as I look back, it was the past that shaped me to a tough football player. If those backyard football games hadn’t been played, I might not be as tough as I am now.”
His oldest brother, Julian, briefly held the state record for touchdown catches before going to play college football at Maine. Justin arrived in time to throw some of those touchdown passes. Josh was another Nighthawks fullback/linebacker.
“They taught me the basic rules of Newtown football,” Jared said. “If I didn’t understand anything they’d pull me aside and teach me what I did wrong and how to fix it. They’ve always been leaders and people who I’ve looked up to. I’ve tried to follow in their footsteps and continue the Dunn legacy at Newtown.”
Pattison said Dunn is respected around school and a good student; Dunn said he’s considering studying science wherever he winds up in college. Ricks said Dunn is a nice kid, but the intensity that marks him on the football field can make an appearance sometimes, too.
“He sets the tone from the first whistle to the last,” Pattison said.
“He’s going to hit you when he’s on offense or defense. When he’s running the ball, he’s going to try to run you over. It’s just the mentality that he has. He wants to let you know who he is when he plays football. You see that on the field, whether he’s tackling somebody or running somebody over.”
Some of Dunn’s memories of watching his brothers involve games against Shelton, and he’d like to avenge a few of them on Friday. The Gaels beat Newtown 35-28 in the 2015 Class LL semifinals, the same score as a 2017 regular-season meeting between the teams. Shelton beat Newtown 35-21 in the 2016 LL quarterfinals.
“There’s always been a strong rivalry between our grade and Shelton. Ever since youth, it’s been a hard-nosed, (hard-fought) game,” Dunn said. “That’s what I think it’s going to come down to this Friday, just tough football. We’re both run-first teams. It’s going to come down to that.”