NEW BRITAIN - It was certainly not the way the Berlin football team was looking to enter the playoffs.
Coming off back-to-back losses against Rocky Hill (9-0) and now New Britain (5-5), the Redcoats (8-2) have much to improve on in the next week and a half, before they play again.
But if Friday night’s 51-6 loss to the Hurricanes in the annual Wishbone Bowl, offered up any questions, it was will the Berlin be knocked out in the first round of playoffs like last year?
The Redcoats found themselves out of the game early and were never able to find their bearings. New Britain led 23-6 at the half and 43-6 after the third quarter.
But hurt Berlin the most was it couldn’t stop the run, something it had trouble with against RHAM, Bloomfield, and Rocky Hill. The Hurricanes collected 474 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns when all was said and done.
New Britain running back Muhammed Codjoe ran for a seasons-best 198 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He later capped another big run of 81 yards for a score.
Tahje Yopp added another 107 yards and a touchdown, while Shawn Robinson had 65 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Jahfari Newman also found himself in the end zone twice.
“We just have to cover our gaps and just fill them up,” linebacker Dominic Scarano said. “Everyone has to win their individual battles, that’s all it is. We have to tackle, we just have to wrap up and rally to the ball.”
Berlin’s only touchdown came with just seconds left in the first half when Kevin Dunn connected on a 3-yard pass to Giancarlo Tufano. Dunn finished the game 9-for-14 for 96 yards and the Redcoats were able to only finish with 230 yards of total offense.
“We just didn’t execute,” Berlin freshman running back Marco Scarano said. “I feel that we did everything in practice right and we just didn’t show for it.”
But the Redcoats were without a number of key players as well, missing three of their top four rushers (Alex Halkias, Zach Hrubiec and Larry St. Pierre), two defensive linemen and their safety.
Marco Scarano played in his first varsity game Friday evening, rushing a total of 15 yards on four carries, while on the receiving end he caught two of Dunn’s passes for 54 yards.
Senior captain James Mazzarella, however, had a difficult night. As the Redcoats leading rusher Friday, he collected just 36 yards on 14 carries. And he found himself in trouble when he realized New Britain had figured out a way to stop him.
“Right away we were mentally weak,” Mazzarella said. “That’s all I have to say. Right when we had something go wrong, kids just broke down, put their heads down and didn’t fight, that’s really it.
“Us seniors and captains tried to get them up, but we just have to come together as a team,” Mazzarella said. “We’re going to get together this weekend and work on things, talk it over and hopefully everyone listens to us and we come together as a family, because that’s what we need to do.”
Berlin will have a week and half to figure things outs. One thing the Redcoats don’t want is a third loss in a row.
“Instead of, when things go wrong, we need to just keep our heads up and play,” Mazzarella said. “In the playoffs, we’re not always going to be up 40-0 like we have been in the beginning of the season. So if we’re down, we have to be able to come back, score some touchdowns, play good defense and win the game.”
They’ll soon find out if they’ll be able to.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @shelbyiava