BERLIN - Facing 4-2 Tolland was supposed to be the toughest game of the season for the 20th-ranked Berlin football team.
The Eagles dual-threat quarterback Ryan Carlson was expected to pose the Redcoats defense with their biggest challenge of the season.
While he was the focus coming, Carlson didn’t play at all for Tolland and Berlin didn’t even pick up on that. The only focus for the Redcoats was stopping the players the Eagles did have.
“He didn’t play at all?” said Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz following his team’s 41-10 win Friday night. “We didn’t notice.”
Without Carlson, the Redcoats defense had their way against Tolland backup quarterback Brady Gordon and didn’t struggle stopping the run when Jon Glick lined up in the wildcat formation for the Eagles.
Throughout the game, both the offensive and defensive line for Berlin won the battle in the trenches. On defense, it was stopping the run and offensively, providing time for quarterback Kevin Dunn to pick apart the Tolland secondary.
Dunn did just that, throwing for four touchdowns and adding a rushing score.
One part of the game that Dunn struggled with at times was his decision making, finishing with two interceptions, both of which were on Dunn more than a product of strong defense from the Eagles.
Going forward, Dunn knows that is a part of his game that needs work and must be fixed soon as Berlin faces two powerhouses in 6-1 Bloomfield followed up by 7-0 Rocky Hill.
“At the end of the half we were just forcing it and that was my bad,” Dunn said. “At the goal line the kid made a good play and sat on the route.”
Berlin’s up tempo offense continued throughout the entire game, even in the fourth quarter the Redcoats were rushing up to the line of scrimmage rather than managing the clock as they held a multiple touchdown lead.
For Berlin in the next two games, clock management with the lead will be something to work on if the Redcoats hold a lead against Bloomfield or Rocky Hill during the fourth quarter.
For the most part, the 31-point win had a lot of positives, but with Tolland not having its best player on either side of the ball as Carlson was also the leading tackler at linebacker, there remain some unknowns.
With the teams Berlin had faced prior to the Eagles, the Redcoats’ 7-0 record can be a bit deceiving as Berlin has high expectations for this year’s team and they have yet to face a team that is competent record-wise. None of its previous opponents other than the Eagles have a winning record. Combined, they are 19-35.
The next two games for the Redcoats will be a good indicator of where Berlin truly stands and what the strengths and weaknesses of the team are.
As a team that can put up points fast and has scored over 20 points in every game of the season, seeing how Dunn fares against a strong defense giving him limited time to make decisions in the pocket will be something to watch.
“You gotta watch out for him,” Aresimowicz said. “He pulled the ball and ran, threw the ball well, a couple interceptions but he’s a young quarterback and when you throw the ball that many times in a game you’re going to have those happen occasionally. But, overall he executed at a high level and this is the part of the season we’ve been looking forward to all year.”
One thing that Berlin doesn’t lack is confidence as the Redcoats and regardless of opponent, starting 7-0 is still an impressive feat.
“We just gotta practice hard, stay focused and study,” Berlin wide receiver Larry St. Pierre said.
With a home game against 6-1 Bloomfield next week, the Redcoats will get to show what they’re made of as they hope show they are everything their record says they are.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan