Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sports

Newsome football creates buzz in FishHawk community

LITHIA

No one knows for sure how Newsome will fare tonight when the Wolves travel to Kissimmee Osceola for a Class 7A region final.

But Sal Varotta, who owns Park Square Pizza, is ready to party Saturday night.

"We had them all here last Saturday," Varotta said of the victory party following Newsome's 21-14 win against Durant last Friday. "Hopefully we can do it again."

The FishHawk community is abuzz as Newsome is now just two wins away from state.

"Everywhere we go people are wishing us good luck," quarterback Will Worth said. "It definitely shows you how the people around here feel about this team."

Varotta, a Bronx native who opened Park Square Pizza a year and a half ago, also held a preseason pep rally and has supplied pregame meals in addition to last week's victory party. Varotta, 48, said he can sense the community's support —even if it's at the expense of his business.

"When (Newsome) is at home, you know because there are a lot less people in the restaurant and walking around Park Square," he said. "They show up afterwards, but it's quiet during the games. It's like Friday Night Lights around here."

A number of area businesses have put signs outside their shop windows urging on Newsome, a team that has endeared itself to the tight-knit FishHawk community.

Pam Parisi, the marketing director for FishHawk developer Newland Communities, said excitement over the Wolves is palpable.

"FishHawk Ranch is a very tight-knit community to begin with, rallying in both tough times and good," Parisi said. "So it's especially exciting when the community has something like Newsome's success to celebrate.

"We're very proud. Their win over Durant should give them great confidence."

A tangible sign of support could be seen last week in the visitor's stands. If Durant supporters outnumbered Newsome fans, it wasn't by much.

"It was great to look up and see full stands, especially at an away game," Worth said.

Newsome's two playoff wins in 2012 have already doubled its postseason win total in the school's first 10 years of existence. The Wolves' influence has trickled down to the local youth team — Pinecrest runs the identical offense Newsome does.

"They run the Wing T, too," coach Ken Hiscock said. "And we also go out and do clinics at FishHawk (Pop Warner) as well."

Hiscock laughed when asked how many transfers he has had in his seven years. Newsome, unlike a number of schools that have kids enroll from other districts, isn't interested.

"We've had a couple kids move in from out of state or out of the area into our community," he said. "But no, no transfers."

This insular approach also has produced kids who appreciate what they have and are as quick with a "no, sir" as they are with a highlight-reel play.

"They are all like that," Varotta said. "They all call me Mr. Sal and are extremely polite. You can even see it in the little kids around here. We're really just one big happy family."

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

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Published: 06/19/18