By Richard Weizel
MILFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - The Newtown, Connecticut, high school football team completed an undefeated regular season on Tuesday that players and coaches had dedicated to the victims of last December's massacre at the town's Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Newtown High School Nighthawks finished with a 12-0 record after a 42-7 win over archrival Masuk High School in neighboring Monroe, Connecticut.
The players have worn a logo on their helmets with the number 26 to commemorate the 20 young children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary last December 14 by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza in one of the worst school massacres in U.S. history. The logo also includes green, the official color of the elementary school.
The blowout win on Tuesday night gave the team a leg up in its quest for a state championship by securing top seed in the playoff tournament that starts next week.
"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," said Newtown High's head football coach, Steve George.
If Newtown makes it to the championship game, it is likely to be played on December 13 or 14, George said. The latter date would coincide with the anniversary of the shootings.
Quarterback Andrew Tarantino said winning a championship would be particularly poignant this year.
"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," said the 17-year-old senior, who has broken all the school's quarterback records.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis, Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)