BERLIN - There are just a handful of football teams left in the state that are undefeated, two of them being No. 9 Bloomfield (7-0) and 10th-ranked Berlin (7-0).
But only one team will remain unbeaten after tonight. The two teams will square off in what will be Berlin’s second battle of unbeatens for the season at Bloomfield High School for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
“I’m really excited and I’m really amped up,” Berlin tight end and kicker Giancarlo Tufano said. “I know we can beat them and I know we’re better than them. I just can’t wait for [tonight]. I can’t wait to just show up and show everyone who we are. If we win against Bloomfield it will shut everyone up.”
Berlin is currently the only team in Class M that is still undefeated, whereas in Class S there are five teams, which include the Warhawks, Ansonia, Woodland Regional, Bullard Havens and the Stafford/Somers/East Windsor co-op.
“It’s a huge game,” Berlin fullback and defensive end Zach Hrubiec said. “Bloomfield vs. Berlin, that’s been going on for years and we feel like this will bring a whole new look to the state. The state will look at Berlin a whole new way. It’ll show we are a legit team and one of the best, top-10 teams, in the state. It’s huge for us.”
Both teams, however, struggled with one common opponent this season, Northwest Catholic. The Redcoats and the Warhawks each posted their lowest scoring game of the season against the Eagles.
For Berlin it was a 21-13 win and for the Warhawks it was 20-6.
“Northwest is a good team,” Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “I have already circled them on our schedule for next year as a very difficult game. I think it was more about Northwest than it was Bloomfield and Berlin. I think they’re a good quality team.”
Like Northwest Catholic, Bloomfield will have numerous playmakers on the field tonight.
Sophomore quarterback Daron Bryden has been well-known to football observers for years thanks to high-profile media exposure by his father, Craig.
“We feel like we have to put pressure on him,” Hrubiec said. “If he’s comfortable, he’s got great receivers so he’s going to hit them and they’re going to make plays. So if we make him uncomfortable, he’s not going to be in the pocket, he’s not going to be able to throw the ball to whoever he wants, he’s going to have to do something extra. If we make him uncomfortable it’s our best bet.”
As a freshman last season, Bryden did not disappoint, throwing for 1,676 yards (67.3 completion percentage) and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions.
This year he has only improved, throwing 1,368 yards in seven games, completing 70 of his 101 attempts, with 24 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
“The quarterback isn’t the biggest concern,” Aresimowicz said. “He’s not going to run the ball, he’s going to pass. He’s a pocket passer. He likes to hang out in the pocket and throw the ball. He has some really good receivers so it’s more about defending the receivers and stopping the running game.”
And those skill position players have made plenty of plays.
Ky’Juon Butler is a four-year starter who played as a freshman on Bloomfield’s Class S championship team. Last season, he ran for 1,714 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also has 3,713 rushing yards and 33 TDs for his career.
Butler is a dual threat, who also serves as the team’s leading linebacker last season, with 6.2 tackles per game, seven for a loss and an interception.
“It comes down to us doing our jobs,” Aresimowicz said. “We have athletes across the board just like they do. It’s going to come down to who does their job better and that’ll decide who will win this game.”
In addition to Butler, the Warhawks also have junior receiver and tailback Anthony Simpson, who caught 40 passes for 646 yards and eight touchdowns and had 1,500 all-purpose yards, overall. Seniors Myles Davis and David Robinson and junior Mike Raiford will also be targets.
“We’ve already won our conference, but this game is important to the kids,” Aresimowicz said. “It’s two undefeated teams and you only get one opportunity at Bloomfield, so it’s as important as any Bloomfield game each and every year. They’re a good quality program, they’re a good team and it means a lot to the team to beat them.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org