Nastahowski, Camacho proudly represent Big Red during HOF game

Greenwich’s dynamic duo of Shane Nastahowski and Kyle Camacho have made an impact on Big Red’s football team since the first day they stepped foot on the Cardinal Stadium turf, so it’s only fitting that they represented the Cardinals during Saturday’s Hall of Fame Football Classic at West Haven’s Ken Strong Stadium.

“This is a lot of fun,” Camacho said. “Being selected out of all the seniors that graduated in the class of 2012 from Fairfield County is pretty elite. We came out here today and proved why we are all-stars. We have a lot of talent on the team.”

Both Nastahowski (linebacker) and Camacho (defensive end) were key players on the defense for Fairfield County during their 23-13 victory.

“This was a lot of fun,” Nastahowski said. “The last two weeks we’ve been busting our butts in practice and really had the chemistry going. I made a bunch of new friends out here and it was great coming out here and getting to know these guys. In the first half we were a little slow, but in the second half we picked each other up and came out with a win. It was a great experience.”

After New Haven County built a 13-0 lead with 7:31 to play in the third quarter, the Fairfield County defense was not to be denied, shutting out the New Haven all-stars the rest of the way. The defense was getting to the New Haven quarterback throughout the second half and forced numerous sacks and two turnovers. One was a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bunnell High School’s J.J. Bivona.

“Our defense was holding it down for the first half a lot, but we know that it’s a team game and couldn’t point fingers or put the blame on the offense,” Camacho said. “We knew that we had to step up our game to another level if we were going to win this game. At halftime, coach gave us a pretty good speech, got us all fired up and we were rolling on all cylinders when we came out.”

In addition to the pick six, Fairfield’s offense was firing on all cylinders in the second half, outscoring New Haven 23-3.

Westhill High School’s Dylan Moye started the rally by running a kickoff to inside the New Haven red zone, where Pomperaug’s Matt Paola connected on a 27-yard field goal. Brien McMahon quarterback Damien Vega helped give Fairfield County its first touchdown of the game when he connected on a 5-yard pass to Bunnell’s Jawad Chisholm. After Bivona’s interception return, Fairfield County iced the game when Stamford quarterback Bryan Boderick connected with Chisholm for a 71-yard touchdown reception.

Although Saturday’s contest was an all-star game, don’t bother telling both sides that there was nothing on the line. Both teams were playing for pride, but to also show which county has football supremacy.

“There was a lot of preparation and a lot of plays that we had to go over,” Nastahowski said. “We had to work hard during those two weeks of practices. It was a pleasure to play for this team and a pleasure to meet all these great people. Being a part of this tradition is what made me work every day during practice and during the game.”

“The practices were pretty intense,” Camacho said. “It’s natural for elite athletes to want to compete as soon as we get on the field. So the first couple of snaps at practice, we were going pretty hard and the coach had to tell us to save it until Saturday. I think we just really worked hard at practice and started getting our chemistry together.”

While playing for the Fairfield County all-stars was a thrill, it was also the change for both Greenwich standouts to once again put on the pads and read some playbooks one last time.

“It was great putting on the pads again and getting on the field,” Nastahowski said. “The hot weather killed me a little bit, but it was a great prep going into Milford Academy in a couple of weeks. It was good playing with kids I’ve never met before. Everybody is very good on this team, so you don’t have to worry about all your different responsibilities. The other kids could cover it.”

“It was a long, nice road playing for Greenwich High,” Nastahowski said. “My friend Kyle was playing here with me and my family was watching me today. It was a great experience having everybody watch me play one more time before I go off to school. I am going to keep on getting better and work hard every single day.”

Although Camacho and Nastahowski officially finished their high school careers Saturday, it won’t be the last time they see each other on the gridiron. Both athletes will play football for Milford Academy this fall for one season and practice gets underway in a few short weeks.

“Shane and I are in it until the end,” Camacho said. “He helped me get onto this team and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. But this isn’t the last time we will play together, as we will be at Milford Academy next fall.”

“Putting the pads on for one last time before we head over to Milford is definitely good,” Camacho said. “A lot of the kid on the New Haven team were very talented, so it was fun to see where we stand against other kids from other areas. To be a Cardinal is great, but to be a captain is a huge honor. All the other captains that were before me made me want to be the best captain I can be over there. Representing the Cardinals is a great thing and a great honor. These coaches know that Greenwich knows how to play.”


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