BERLIN -Last season the Berlin football team ended the regular season with two losses, one of them being to Rocky Hill.
It was a 26-10 defeat that could have been completely avoidable, but once again the Redcoats were plagued by their own countless mistakes.
But tonight a different story is likely to be told at Sage Park.
Last week, No. 9 Berlin (8-0) beat down previously undefeated and now No. 11 Bloomfield for a statement 37-0 shutout, showing everyone what it can do when it plays clean, disciplined, Berlin football - something head coach Joe Aresimowicz has been waiting for since Week 4 (a 49-0 shutout win over Plainville).
“We played pretty darn good,” Berlin coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “The kids played really great. They weren’t screaming, yelling before the game, they were just really focused. Now we’re back to work.”
“I said to the boys, this past week’s win exceeded the Plainville game,” the head coach said. “A couple little mistakes, but those happen, but they executed at a high level.”
Rocky Hill has been dominant over the past three years. In that span, the team has a 31-3 record. Some of the seniors on Berlin have never beaten the Terriers before, making tonight extra special. The Redcoats will also be celebrating their 11 seniors for Senior Night.
“On the varsity level, we haven’t beaten them in the last three years,” Berlin defensive back Tyler Dinkins said. “I’ve been part of the team all three years and I’ve watched us lose to them. I expect to go out tonight and beat them. That’s what we want to do, is win.”
“We’re really trying to get into the playoffs,” he continued. “We’re going into the game undefeated, and to come out undefeated will be big for us.”
But the powerhouse Class S team that everyone has come to know over the years has found itself in a rebuilding year. The Terriers lost 16 seniors to graduation and only returned three starters.
“They’re a good opponent,” Berlin linebacker Jacob Sparks said. “We’ve always had battles, always been a respectable program. We’ve always been back and forth, we always feel like it’s a game to show people what we’re made of. Rocky Hill is always competitive and they always play us tough, so we always have to come back and match that.”
The graduated class includes starting quarterback Danny Cavallaro, running backs Joseph Catania and Joseph Ferreira and wide receiver Matt Osgood, leaving the offense depleted this year.
The three returning starters are wide receiver/defensive back Belall Matar, lineman Alex Boutin and cornerback/quarterback Ja’quan Graham.
Regardless of the talent that was lost, the Redcoats aren’t overlooking their competition. Every year, it’s one of their top games because they are rivals.
“Rocky Hill is a great program,” Aresimowicz said. “Coach [Jeff] Perillo originally came from Rocky Hill, he was their defensive coordinator for many years, so that’s a Berlin rivalry. The records go out the window and they’re going to play us tough. We can’t take them lightly.”
The Terriers are coming off back-to-back losses to Avon and RHAM. Rocky Hill has posted 77 points in eight games, including being shut out twice.
“We’re going to approach them like it’s any other game,” Berlin’s Danny Lynch said. “They have a good, solid team. It’s not really one player we have to look out for, more just really the team as a whole. We’re going to just try to execute the game plan the coaches put forward. It’s a big game for all of us. You always want to go out and get the W, especially with a team you haven’t beat in a while.”