NEW BRITAIN - Throughout most of the Class M football state quarterfinal matchup against Watertown, Berlin was the better team and it resulted in a 27-14 victory.
However, some mistakes that were made by the Redcoats must be cleaned up going into their toughest matchup of the season, a semifinal game against No. 1 seed, unbeaten Killingly.
The Killingly Redmen have beaten their opponents by an average of 34 points this season and won their first round matchup against Jonathan Law 57-21.
“Throughout the season we’ve made some mistakes,” Berlin quarterback Kevin Dunn said. “We’re going to try to clean that up and need to play a perfect game Sunday.”
Dunn accounted for two of the mistakes with a pair of first half interceptions in his first playoff game as quarterback.
“We had some mistakes [Tuesday],” Dunn said. “They showed us some looks we weren’t prepared for, but we adjusted it in the second half and eventually capitalized on their mistakes.”
The Redcoats go as their quarterback does and will need the best game of the season out of Dunn, who’s shown he is capable of having a huge game.
“He needs to hit the target,” Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “A couple of bad passes today, but overall he made the right decisions. He probably made four wrong decisions… He’s an amazing athlete and I’m sure he’ll make the plays come Sunday.”
Another point of emphasis going into Sunday is eliminating penalties.
The Redcoats committed multiple penalties in the second half in specific situations that will hurt them against a team the caliber of the Redmen.
On the first drive of the second half for Watertown, Berlin was called for an encroachment penalty on a third and 2 with the Indians driving while down 14-0.
Tony Undercuffler bailed the Redcoats out of it with an interception, though, and the Redcoats took advantage of the turnover with a touchdown drive.
Later in the half with the game all but locked up and just needing to waste time to come away with the victory, Berlin was called for a delay of game penalty, stopping the clock and keeping any little hope of a comeback alive for the Indians.
While there weren’t a ton of mistakes made, the ones that were made could be the difference in the next game if they continue.
“It’s going to be huge to eliminate those mistakes,” Berlin wide receiver Larry St. Pierre said. “If we play a perfect game we can win. But if we make mistakes it’s going to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Mistakes have been the Achilles’ heel for Berlin since week one. Although the Redcoats won their home opener against Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver, it wasn’t the prettiest performance they’ve put on and that has continued.
In Berlin’s more recent games against Rocky Hill and New Britain, The Redcoats let mistakes control the game. The Terriers won 26-10, while the Hurricanes were able to score 51 points on the Redcoats.
A positive for Berlin against Watertown was stopping the run and doing so without key lineman Zach Hrubiec.
The Indians were held to 111 rushing yards as a team and no runner had more than 50 yards on the ground.
Continuing that trend will be important, as Killingly is primarily a running team.
“They have probably the best running back in the state, Spencer Lockwood,” Dunn said.
“We know him, we’re going to prepare. We know it’s going to be a rough game, it’s going to be a physical game, and we’re just going to go in there prepared and try our best.”
On 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Redcoats will get a chance to show how good of a team they are.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @OrencoleDan