AVON - For teams that are used to playing on Friday nights, Saturday games can be challenging at times. That has certainly been the case for the Berlin football team both this year and in seasons past.
But the Redcoats may have finally gotten over the case of their Saturday woes, with a 48-0 shutout win over Avon.
“[For a Saturday game] it wasn’t bad,” Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “We’ll take it. It’s usually the little things.”
The Redcoats have played three of their first five games this season on a Saturday morning or afternoon. And while they there were able to come out with wins in each of them, the days have often been plagued by penalties, missed assignments, turnovers and lots of lost yards, leaving the Redcoats less than satisfied with the results.
This past Saturday the Redcoats took it to the Falcons and finally played a clean, almost mistake-free game.
“I think we really learned from our mistakes,” Berlin linebacker Danny Lynch said. “I think we came out dull that last Saturday and we really learned from that and came out firing [Saturday].”
The Redcoats opened up their season on a Saturday morning against Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver. It ended in a 41-0 win, but Berlin committed an astounding 13 penalties for 120 yards. Making it look a lot like 2017, when despite a sold regular season, the Redcoats fell short in the playoffs.
Two weeks later Berlin was at it again, this time in West Hartford, for an early morning game against Northwest Catholic. The Lions played the Redcoats tough and, so far, has been the only team to score any kind of points on Berlin.
Even though the Redcoats limited their penalties from 13 to four for 35 yards, they also turned the ball over twice. It allowed Northwest Catholic to find its momentum and keep the game competitive until late when Berlin won 21-13.
The Lions’ first score of that game came off a Philly Special, which tied the game 7-7. Northwest Catholic snapped the ball directly to running back Isaac Riley with a reverse to Dean Edwards, who then threw the ball to quarterback Connor Rich for an 8-yard touchdown. The second was an 11-play, 69-yard drive that included two long runs from Rick. The first was a 24-yard scamper, while his 15-yard run into the end zone to bring the Lions within one.
This past Saturday was different, though. Without being constrained by those slow starts, mistakes and penalties, the Redcoats were able to take care of business, meaning cruise past a bad team and there have been plenty of those on the schedule.
Berlin scored on its first five possessions to just out to a 35-0 lead by halftime. In the end, the Redcoats totaled 349 yards of total offense, 174 in the air and 175 on the ground. It could have been worse had the team not decided to easy up.
“Saturday mornings, last time we had one of these games we came out flat,” Berlin quarterback Kevin Dunn said. “So that was a big focus in practice to come out fast, play physical and play our football. And we can’t beat ourselves down. That’s what happened last Saturday [against Northwest Catholic].”
The Redcoats have now outscored its first five opponents 206-13, with four shutouts. And while they may be done with Saturday games for the season, after finally playing well, the Redcoats will continue to refine the little things as they head into their bye week. Berlin will next face RHAM (5-0) on Oct. 19 at Sage Park to kick of the second half of the season.
The second half will be a bit more difficult as the Redcoats. Along with the Sachems, they will play Tolland (2-3), Bloomfield (5-0), Rocky Hill (1-4) and New Britain (4-1), with the Warhawks and Hurricanes posing as the Redcoats’ biggest threats.
“The whole goal has to improve every week,” Aresimowicz said. “If we can do one or two things better every week, hopefully by the time it comes to the end of the season, the big games and the playoffs, we’re really going on all cylinders.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org