Itâ€™s easy to look at Berlin footballâ€™s 2019 roster and take note of the glaring absences from last season, from all-conference quarterback Kevin Dunn to all-conference running back Larry St. Pierre, but the Redcoats arenâ€™t concerned about whatâ€™s missing from this yearâ€™s roster sheet. They believe the names that are still on that sheet are whatâ€™s worthy of the attention.
â€śWeâ€™re actually looking pretty good,â€ť head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. â€śWe have a blue collar mentality. I say it all the time, if a guy goes down, the next guy is up.â€ť
Plenty of guys were lost to graduation or transfer for Berlin, but in a season that could have been potentially crippled by such an exodus, the Redcoats received a number of unexpected arrivals that have Aresimowicz looking at the 2019 campaign with similar expectations as the last, when Berlin reached the Class M state championship game.
Aresimowiczâ€™s new contributors have different roles for the Redcoats, but they all have one thing in common, which will be the key for Berlinâ€™s success this season: overwhelming size that looks to cast a shadow over the departures of 2018.
â€śWe have a couple kids that are going to surprise some people,â€ť Aresimowicz said. â€śTrevor Miano at tight end lines up at 6-foot-3, over 200 pounds, and thatâ€™s something you donâ€™t normally see at Berlin. Heâ€™s going to be physically imposing. Weâ€™re blessed with size that we never had. We have four kids that are over 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds. Thatâ€™s pretty good for a high school program.â€ť
One of those new entries is offensive lineman Aiden Jones, a senior who last played football in eighth grade, but his 6-foot-3 frame is enough to give the Redcoats, and Jones himself, a reason for excitement.
â€śWe lost some key players, but everyone on this team is amazing,â€ť Jones said. â€śEveryone is big and strong and works hard every day. With the size we have, we can down block everyone and nail them into the dirt. If we can do that, we can score touchdowns all day.â€ť
That will be precisely Berlinâ€™s plan this season, to pound the ball right into the gut of opposing defenses, while throwing a metaphorical block at those that doubted them entering summer practices. The Redcoats lost a lot of talent, but theyâ€™ve made up for it in pure size and strength, which they believe is a recipe for a lot of wins, regardless of their promotion to Class L.
â€śThis is the most hard-working group that Iâ€™ve ever been around, and itâ€™s the most doubted group Iâ€™ve ever been around,â€ť All-State running back Zach Hrubiec said. â€śThat makes us mad. Weâ€™re being doubted around the state and we want to prove something. Thereâ€™s no doubt that we can, and we look forward to showcasing that.â€ť
Hrubiec will likely be the main benefactor of Berlinâ€™s towering offense line, but Aresimowicz is quick to point out that the teamâ€™s backfield is crowded with talent that will be realized once the focus from spectators finally shifts from who Berlin lost after last season.
â€śZach obviously is an incredible player and is going to go on and play in college somewhere, but we have a sophomore in Jamie Palmese thatâ€™s lighting it up, and we have Adam Liberda who came back this year after a year off,â€ť Aresimowicz said. â€śHeâ€™s been lighting it up all spring.â€ť
Aresimowicz and the Redcoats are excited to translate that production into the fall, when they can unveil their new-look team that may lack the same list of recognizable names, but more than makes up for it in acquired size. The stakes may be bigger after being bumped to Class L, but Berlinâ€™s overall stature matches its new playing field.
â€śWe donâ€™t fear anybody,â€ť Hrubiec said. â€śWe want to play the best teams. Weâ€™re happy weâ€™re in L, and get to face some of the best around. Weâ€™re looking forward to it.â€ť
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org