With the fall season almost at the halfway point, coaches know which players they can rely on to step up to help deliver their respective teams a win.
New Britain running back Shawn Robinson and Goodwin Tech volleyball player Tanija Russell both come through with those kind of performances to help their teams come out with a victory.
Less than a week after being pushed around the field in a loss to South Windsor, the Hurricanes deciding to take the same approach Thursday night against Hall. With Robinson leading the offensive attack, New Britain put up 43 points en route to a 43-21.
“We came out and ran the ball well, which was good to see,” Hurricanes head coach Tebucky Jones said.
Overall, New Britain ran 76 offensive plays, 60 of which came on the ground for a total of 378 yards. Robinson ended the night with more than half those carries, rushing 31 times for 214 yards and three touchdowns, including the final two of the night to put the game out of reach. He also caught two passes for 34 yards.
The junior tailback now has 524 yards and five scores over the season’s first four games.
“It’s a good blocking scheme,” Robinson said. “You gotta read the linebackers and lineman and once you see the linebackers come down, you just make a cut right behind them.
“We dominated up front, got a good push and there were holes. We were giving them different looks, but the run game was strong and then when we had a chance to go over the top with a pass, we went for it.”
Hall had trouble containing Robinson let alone tackling him. While fellow running back Muhammed Codjoe provided most of the power running inside, Robinson was a little shiftier, making opponents miss at the line of scrimmage.
“I’m more of a make-a-hole kind of guy, he said. “Once I see a hole, I’m gonna go get it.”
And as the season continues on and with the Hurricanes 2-2, the team is looking to continue to build off this game for the upcoming weeks.
“We have to take the 24-hour rule very seriously,” Robinson said. “So what happens [Thursday], the next day, none of that matters. It’s on to the next game. We have to believe and come out with the same attitude every game and get the job done.”
The Gladiators, meanwhile, have gotten off to a strong start this season. Prior to falling in its last match against Ellis Tech, Goodwin Tech won its first seven to begin the year.
A major part of that early success has been the play of Russell and her ability to serve the ball and set up the floor well along the front row.
Russell has been part of the program for four years and in three of those seasons she has earned a varsity letter. As one of the tri-captains this season, the senior serves as a leader for the Gladiators girls volleyball team.
She is the key component for Goodwin Tech as the team feeds off of her ability put the ball in the correct spots. Russell typically plays in the front row positions but sometimes moves around and has the capability to play in the back row.
In the Gladiators’ match against Vinal Tech last week, Russell was dominant especially serving the ball as she had eight aces and won 16 service points.
“I thought Tanija served well throughout the entire match,” Goodwin Tech head coach Paul Soucy said. “When she is on serving, the team plays well.”
When Russell was serving well it was evident that her teammates were much more engaged in the game.
Russell also had a strong performance with her kills. She finished the match with four.
“I think we did a good job with our kills,” Russell said. “We’re usually pretty good at that but we did a good job [Wednesday].”
The Gladiators will continue to lean on Russell’s success at the service line and count on her leadership to keep her teammates focused, something that has been an issue this season, playing down to weaker opponents levels.
Although Goodwin Tech finally suffered a loss after winning eight straight to begin the year, with Russell leading the way the team is set for success as it moves forward with the season and hopes to go far in the postseason.