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Norwalk Packers 4th-Graders Roll Into Football Playoffs

Norwalk's Austin Hall finds running room during a game earlier this year. Photo Credit: Contributed by Roger Hargrove
Norwalk's Nemo Harris turns the corner. Photo Credit: Contributed by Roger Hargrove
Norwalk's Tyler Whittaker extends to reel in a pass. Photo Credit: Contributed by Roger Hargrove
Roderick Olsen runs in for a Norwalk touchdown. Photo Credit: Contributed by Roger Hargrove
Koy Price celebrates on his way to the end zone. Photo Credit: Contributed by Roger Hargrove
Khalil Eason gets loose for Norwalk. Photo Credit: Contributed by Roger Hargrove

NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Packers fourth-grade football team stormed to a 7-1 record and the top seed in the Colonial Youth Football League. Now, the team will see how far it can extend its season.

The Packers meet Aspetuck Valley at 4 p.m. Saturday at Brien McMahon in a first-round playoff game. Norwalk, Newtown and Bridgeport all finished 7-1, but the Packers earned the top seed based on strength of their schedule. Norwalk’s only loss was a 6-0 defeat to Newtown on Sept. 29.

“I had a lot of the players last year in a team for second- and third-graders,’’ coach Bert Borges said. “The third-graders moved up, and the team I had last year only lost one game. We knew it was going to be a pretty good team.”

Norwalk is strong on both sides of the ball. It has scored 247 points and scored 33 or more in every game except for the loss to Newtown. The Packers also have three shutouts and have yielded more than one touchdown in just two games.

“We’re a big team up front with speed,’’ Borges said. “It can be hard to stop us. If we stayed with our starters, I don’t think we would’ve given up a touchdown this season.”

Norwalk beat Aspetuck, 33-12, on Oct. 13. The Packers also beat Bridgeport, 33-7, on Sept. 9. The loss to Newtown came on a bad snap from center on a punt that led to Newtown’s only score. “We’re hoping we see them in the final,’’ Borges said.

He has coached in the Norwalk league for eight years, including a six-year run with a team that he took from third through eighth grade. He’s back for another round with his younger son, Vinny, and is enjoying the return to the younger players.

“I thought it might be difficult to come back to this age group,’’ Borges said. “But it hasn’t been. It’s a clean slate with them. We do the same things at practice every day. We’re consistent, and that’s the way I like to do things.”

Norwalk’s other football teams will also be in action this weekend. The fifth-grade Packers, who won the New England championship last fall, are seeded fourth and visit top-seeded Bridgeport on Sunday at 9 a.m. The fifth-grade team finished 6-2 in the regular season.

The seventh-grade Packers won four straight to finish the regular season at 5-3 and earn the fourth seed for the playoffs. They will visit top-seeded Monroe. A second seventh-grade team for the Packers also finished 5-3 but did not qualify for the playoffs.

Semifinal winners this weekend advance to the league championship games next weekend. There are also state and New England playoff games. The New England champion earns the right to play in the American Youth Football national tournament in Florida in December.

The eighth-grade Norwalk teams square off against each other in a playoff game this weekend. The seventh-grade Norwalk Green team meets Oxford, and Norwalk's sixth-grade team plays Aspetuck.

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