Every team has players that take their performance to the next level, making sure they get their team to where they need to be when game time arrives.
New Britain’s Raven Symone-Jarrett and Tahje Yopp were able to do just that.
Jarrett played a key role last season for the New Britain girls volleyball team, this year is no different.
With five new starters and the only varsity player to return, the junior has taken on that necessary veteran presence to help her younger teammates.
“My role on the team is to be the leader, to step up as an upperclassman because I have experience with playing varsity from last year,” Jarrett said. “Also I have to encourage the team to play their best on the court all the time.”
Her presence on the court goes well beyond serving as a second coach on the floor for New Britain. Having an all-conference player gives Hurricanes head coach Michele Abraham a player she can rely upon in crucial situations during matches.
In New Britain’s match against Simsbury last Tuesday, she stood out, finishing the night with a match-high 18 kills.
In the fourth set Jarrett helped extend the Hurricanes’ lead from 15-12 to 19-13. Over that sequence of points, Jarrett picked up three of her 18 kills. She then followed it up with an 11-dig, 10-kill performance in a 3-1 win over Windsor the next night.
“I think our season so far is going great and the rest of the season could be strong for us,” Jarrett said. “My goal for this season is to continue to be an outstanding athlete and look at colleges to go to after I graduate. [It’s] also to make it further than the first game for states and I think that can go for everyone on the team.”
This season is just Jarrett’s second year at the varsity level after not playing varsity her freshman season. She’s already proved she has the potential to be a special talent, if she hasn’t already.
“She’s without a doubt the best player out there,” Abraham said. “Until we can use everybody teams are going to pick up on that. But that’s fine, they still got to defend her. And if we come together as one unit, we’ll be alright.”
Off to its best start since the 2008 season, the Hurricanes football team is off has begun its year 4-0 for the first time on over a decade with Yopp playing a key part.
The quarterback ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries in New Britain’s 30-7 win over Simsbury on Friday. In doing so, Yopp became the third Hurricanes player to score three or more touchdowns in the game this season. His touchdown runs came from two, one and two yards out Friday night.
“He’s a great runner,” head coach Tebucky Jones said.
But for all the signal caller was able to do, the first group he wanted to thank and talk about was his offensive line afterward. Without the offensive line he said, he wouldn’t have been able to do nearly as well.
“Our [offensive] line is the biggest threat,” Yopp said. “I say it every week, our line is great. We have 1,000 pounds in the front and nobody can get past them even if they’re down or tired. They’re such a big part of what we do.”
On the season, Yopp has collected 336 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and is one of three Hurricanes with at least 330 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He’s also passed for another 247 yards and three scores and has yet to turn the ball over this season.
But it’s certainly been an interesting season for Yopp, who is in his year starting at the quarterback position after spending 2017 in a number of different roles, from wide receiver to running back to returner.
“I’m starting visualize it more, read it better and play it better,” Yopp said of his growth playing quarterback. “Honestly since I’ve been a quarterback, teammates have done a great job of picking me up when I start to hand my head because it’s a hard position to play.”
But so far so good and if New Britain wants to keep on winning, it’ll need some more strong performances from their quarterback.
“Yopp does his job,” lineman Devon Bishop said. “He’s been playing well. He loves us and we want to make sure he goes out there and scores touchdowns every single week.”