BERLIN - Mistakes have been the name of the game in the last few weeks for the Berlin football team.
The Redcoats (8-1) are coming off of their first loss of the season, a 26-10 defeat to the 13th-ranked Rocky Hill last Friday.
Offsides, bad snaps, too many people on the field, the list goes on. It’s clear Berlin cannot make those same mistakes it did against the Terriers tonight in the Wishbone Bowl against New Britain (4-5). That is, if it wants a chance at hosting a playoff game.
“We were sloppy,” running back Zach Hrubiec said. “Offensively, we couldn't click. Our passing game was a little off and when they figured out what we were doing with the run game it was tough to move the ball. Then, when they got that safety and scored after, then the momentum was on their side. They controlled the clock, so it was tough to move the ball and score.”
Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz added, “Quite honestly we played how we practiced last week. We had a sloppy week of practice and a sloppy game, and against good teams, you can't make mistakes. Sooner or later against a good team, if you continue to make mistakes, they’re going to come back and haunt you.”
This week the Redcoats have attempted to be much crisper, walking through the motions of every practice to try to get back to mistake free football. For some reason, it’s been something Berlin has been struggling with all season.
“I thought we were passed it,” Aresimowicz said. “It started to show up a little bit in games but we overcame it. But last week was right back to pre-bye week mistakes. We have to eliminate them, that's on the coaching staff and we have to get the kids to execute at a higher level, so we’ve been focusing on that all week.”
Every three games, the Redcoats determine if they have gotten better, gotten worse, or if they have just stayed the same and up until Rocky Hill, Berlin believed it was successfully improving every game.
“We started getting it together,” running back Alex Halkias said. “But last week we reverted back to the form we were playing the first four weeks. Going forward, we’re going to try to get back to that Tolland form, Bloomfield form, when we were actually playing good.”
Luckily for Berlin, it secured its playoff spot after a Week-8 win against Bloomfield. Now, the Redcoats are hoping to find some much-needed momentum in tonight’s meeting against the Hurricanes. But as always, it should be a matchup with the last two meetings between the two coming down to either the final second or overtime.
“We’re going to go in, do what we do,” Aresimowicz said. “We really want to tighten things up for the playoff run and were going to play our football. It’s going to be a 50/50 pass, run game; we’re going to try to get kids in running around, try to execute at a higher level.”
“Their line up in front is pretty big and stout,” Hrubiec added. “We just have to go in with a good game plan, execute our offense, get the passing game going and get the points up on the board and we should be fine.”
Jafari Newman is at the top of the list to stop for the Redcoats. The 6-foot-5 quarterback has completed 49.2 percent of his passes for 1,019 yards, seven touchdowns, with just three interceptions this season. On the ground, Newman has 44 carries on 44 yards and five scores.
New Britain also relies on Shawn Robinson as their leading rusher. In New Britain’s latest 44-38 win over Enfield, the tailback had four total touchdowns, two rushing and two kickoff returns. He also ran for 151 yards.
Although the Hurricanes’ defense has given up a total of 277 points this season, their offense has been able to score, averaging 29.4 points per game, meaning Berlin’s defense should get a test tonight.
“Their record is not at all indicative of the talent they have,” Aresimowicz said.
But the Redcoats will also be without some of their key playmakers. Hrubiec, Halkias and Larry St. Pierre - three of Berlin’s top four rushers - are expected to miss the game, leaving James Mazzarella as the top running back for the evening.
Hrubiec and Halkias are dealing with injuries, while Pierre will not be participating for disciplinary reasons.
“We’re just having the next man step up,” Mazzarella said. “There’s a lot of young kids stepping up and I’m really proud of them but we really have to take it to them and do the best we can.”
“It’s just tough we’re trying to get a flow going, which we have the last couple games and now for this game we have a couple hiccups,” Hrubiec said.
Without the starting three out, it’ll be interesting to see how the Redcoats adjust.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @shelbyiava