BERLIN - The battle between the unbeaten will take place tonight at Rocky Hill High School and for the Berlin football team, it might be the most important game of the season so far.
“We have never lost to a team three times straight,” Redcoats offensive linemen Greg Carson said. “We can’t lose tonight.”
Both Berlin and the 13th-ranked Terriers come in at 8-0 and while the Redcoats have already secured themselves a playoff spot in Class M, Rocky Hill will be looking to do the same in S.
But Berlin is on a mission to prove its one of the best teams in the state. Both Tolland and Bloomfield were thought to be major tests, but between the two games, the Redcoats outscored their opponents by a combined total of 64-24. Tonight, though, Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz expects this matchup to be a full, four-quarter game.
“It’s going to be one of those games, any little thing along the way can influence the outcome,” he said.
And that means being effective on offense. The Terriers’ defense has only given up a total of 34 points this season with four shutouts. While the running game has been an important part of the Redcoats’ offense, they will need quarterback Kevin Dunn to make correct reads in the passing game and know what defensive formations he will be up against.
“They’re a great team,” quarterback Kevin Dunn said. “It’s going to be our biggest test of the year so far. We have to play smart. They have a lot of athletes. They’ll show me one thing but then do another, so I need to make sure that I’m making the right decisions to help the team win.”
One of the advantages Rocky Hill has in the matchup is the amount of upperclassmen on its roster. The Terriers have 17 seniors, most of which saw playing time in last season’s Class S championship game against Ansonia.
“That’s a big number,” Aresimowicz said. “They have the maturity and the experience advantage we’re just going to have to get after it.”
Rocky Hill’s offense, meanwhile, will present the Redcoats with their toughest challenge yet. Along with averaging about 39 points per game, the Terriers bring a double-winged offense, something Berlin has already seen this season.
“They have two stellar running backs,” Aresimowicz said. “They’re similar to East Catholic's offense but we have to be much more disciplined because they are far more superior.”
In Rocky Hill’s most previous game, a 42-0 shutout against Avon, wide receiver Matt Osgood hauled in three touchdowns and 105 yards on five catches. The Terriers also rely on Joe Catania and Joe Ferreira as their key rushers. Ferreira did not play in the previous game, and it is uncertain whether or not he will play tonight. Catania, however, rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
“It’s going to be a tough game, it’s another game where the kids have to hang in there,” Aresimowicz said. “I think we’ll get our breaks but they’ll get their breaks too.”
While Rocky Hill’s offense focuses on the running game, quarterback Dan Cavallaro also puts up points when he can. Cavallaro was seven for eight of his passes on 130 yards with three touchdowns last Friday.
But the Redcoats may have found a way to put a stop to the Terriers offense.
How do you stop a double-winged offense? The answer is simple, double-winged defense.
“We’ve played them for many years,” Aresimowicz said. “We’re putting in a brand new defense for this year, based upon defense's we’ve run before but they’re going to be getting a brand new defense from us. So they’re going to have to adjust to us for a change.”