Football Preview: Despite injuries, Berlin must stop Northwest Catholic's athletes in order to win

Published on Thursday, 21 September 2017 23:08
Written by SHELBY IAVA


BERLIN - It was a learning week for the Berlin football team in its preparation for tonight’s game against Northwest Catholic.

“This week has been a little bit of a challenge,” Redcoats head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “We came off of the double winged team [last week in East Catholic] that really [required its] own defense. So now, we have to play a team that runs some motion, some misdirection.”

But Berlin believes it has the right personnel to handle anything Northwest Catholic throws at it.

“We’re going to come out and perform like we do,” Redcoats running back James Mazzarella said. “We’ve heard that they have a few good players, but so do we. We have a ton of athletes on our team.”

The Lions are 0-2 for the season, but have skilled players the Redcoats have to watch out for. One of which is Connor Rich, a dual-threat quarterback. Over the past two weeks, Rich has gone 11-for-27 for 161 yards with one passing touchdown. On the ground, he has rushed 17 times, but for just 30 yards.

“We’re taking into effect that they have a quarterback that’s scrambling,” running back Zach Hrubiec said. “So we’re putting in a defense to contain him and their couple skill guys that they have in the back field.”

Another one of Northwest Catholic’s playmakers that caught Berlin’s eye was running back Spencer Merkel.

Through the first two weeks, Merkel has collected 166 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. He is also a familiar face to some of the Redcoats players such as junior Alexander Halkias.

“I know Spencer, we played football together back when we were kids,” Halkias said.

Berlin is also dealing with a few injuries on both sides of the ball at key positions and will have to adjust having new players in the lineup.

“Our starting center is out and our starting middle linebacker is also out,” Mazzarella said.

“It’s just bumps and bruises, nothing crazy,” Hrubiec said. “They’re not out for the season. We’ll be fine.”

But the Redcoats have the added benefit of having enough the depth to bounce back from any injury.

“We’re just incredibly talented and incredibly deep,” Aresimowicz said. “You have three or four kids that are above average and the rest are not far behind them. Even when we have an injury, the kids are locked in enough to where the next guy steps up.”

“What’s great about this, and I’ve never had a team like this is next guy out, the next guy steps in and we don’t skip a beat.”

With two weeks under its belt, Berlin has already been pleased with how it has performed, opening doors for what the rest of the season could entail.

“Our run game and our power game have been doing really well,” Hrubiec said.

“We have a lot of athletes between the backfield and our line. We’re very athletic so we’re using it to our advantage. Kevin [Dunn]’s throwing the ball well and everything’s coming into place, we’re only getting better.”

Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General Sports on Thursday, 21 September 2017 23:08. Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2017 23:10.