KILLINGLY - After 48 minutes of game time, the Berlin football team‚Äôs season had come to a less than ideal ending. The Killingly Redmen made sure of that Sunday afternoon in the Class M semifinals.
The 49-7 loss was not what the Redcoats (9-3) were expecting, especially after coming off a 27-14 win over Watertown in the quarterfinals last Tuesday.
There was plenty of disappointment afterward when the two teams met at midfield to shake hands. After watching the game, it was easy to see why.
Berlin had the chance to possibly come out with a win instead, partially the way the defense played throughout the first quarter, and have its season continue for another week with a state title in sight. But the Redcoats ended up being their own worst enemy. They simple made too many mistakes; a bad combination when they couldn‚Äôt stop Killingly‚Äôs run game either.
In other words, the two things Berlin needed do to in order to win, it failed to do.
Berlin turned the ball over three times in the duration of the game, two of the turnovers which the Redmen (12-0) were able to score on.
‚ÄúI personally didn‚Äôt think they were that much better than us,‚ÄĚ Redcoats senior lineman Greg Carson said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just we made way too many mistakes. We [threw] three picks, missed tackles, we just didn‚Äôt play [well Sunday].‚ÄĚ
On the first possession of the game, Berlin quarterback Kevin Dunn threw a pass intended for anybody but Killingly‚Äôs Zach Burgess. It ended up setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon.
Burgess intercepted another one of Dunn‚Äôs passes later on in the game, while Redmen quarterback Luke Desaulniers collected the third pick. Dunn only completed 30 percent of his passes on Sunday, completing 6 of his 18 attempts for 108 yards.
Three interception one game can often make or break a game but, in this case, those picks just gave insurance to Killingly.
And we‚Äôve all heard Redcoats head coach Joe Aresimowicz say, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs very clear, when Dunn has a good day, we‚Äôre a darn good team.‚ÄĚ
Sunday just wasn‚Äôt their day.
But mistakes have been the name of the game for Berlin since Week 1, especially against some of the better teams the Redcoats have faced later in the season.
‚ÄúWe started off a little shaky this season,‚ÄĚ senior running back James Mazzarella said. ‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt have the best games, we still beat teams though. We overcame some things and then the mistakes would happen again.‚ÄĚ
And as mentioned before, Berlin got run over; it‚Äôs as simple as that.
The defense, which played so well in the first quarter, struggled throughout the rest of the game. In the end, the Redcoats gave up a total of 466 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground to the Redmen.
Berlin has a particularly tough time stopping the state‚Äôs leading rushing, Spencer Lockwood. The senior entered the game with 2,761 yards and 38 touchdowns. Lockwood ended his day with 317 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Fellow senior Zach Caffrey also recorded 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Stopping the run had been a problem for the Redcoats all season long and was exasperated by back-to-back losses to Rocky Hill (26-10) and New Britain (51-6) to end the regular season. But Berlin seemed to have figured things out when it came to the quarterfinals against Watertown.
Lockwood, though, was just too much for the Redcoats to handle.
But there was also the question of what Berlin could have done differently, if not for the desired outcome, then to at least make the game closer?
‚ÄúI don't know,‚ÄĚ Aresimowicz said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs a very good team over there. As they were going off the field did you hear how many of them said ‚Äėfour-year starter, four-year starter?‚Äô That all matters. They had all the senior leadership and all played really well.‚ÄĚ
The Redcoats, in the end, did not and paid the price.
As Berlin reflects, however, on this past season, 2017 could end up being the start of something great in the seasons to come.
The Redcoats‚Äô 9-3 record gave them their second winning season in a row, giving them a record of 17-6 in their first two seasons under head coach Joe Aresimowicz. There is also plenty of young talent returning such as Larry St. Pierre, Dunn, Tony Undercuffler, Alex Halkias and Zach Hrubiec to name a few.
It was a special season,‚ÄĚ Aresimowicz said. ‚ÄúAt the beginning of the year they said we were too young, too immature, we had too many young players playing, we‚Äôd be lucky to go 5-5.
‚ÄúThis team has been doubted all year long and they‚Äôve overcome it and have gone after it,‚ÄĚ Aresimowicz added. ‚ÄúI'm proud of them. I‚Äôm proud of them as football players, proud of them as kids, they are the type of kids you want to be around.‚ÄĚ
Now it‚Äôs on to the next year, hopefully one with a better result.
Shelby Iava can be contacted at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @shelbyiava