A pair of state tournament hopefuls spent last week trying to rebound from recent losses to tough opponents, and needed a leader or an unexpected hero to step up and get their teams back on track towards their postseason goals.
Both the Berlin football team and New Britain girls volleyball team received that last week, and are still in good position to be competing at the state level come playoff time.
Berlin’s Joe Caracoglia and New Britain’s Raven-Symone Jarrett are our Athletes of the Week for stepping up when it was needed most.
Berlin needed a strong performance on Friday against Northwest Catholic to avenge its close loss to Killingly the week before, and Caracoglia put on a one-man show for the home crowd at Sage Park to lead the Redcoats to victory. The junior wasted no time in making his presence known by scoring the game’s first score less than three minutes into the game on a 16-yard touchdown reception to give Berlin the lead, and the efficient scoring drive its offense badly needed.
Caracoglia’s catch on the early touchdown could have been just a first down on a 4th-down play, but instead of letting his momentum take him out of bounds on at out route towards the sideline, Caracoglia slammed on the brakes and turned his momentum downfield to get to the end zone and set the tone for the game.
“That was an amazing feeling,” Caracoglia said. “I don’t know what could beat that. It was a great way to start the game, to get that momentum going.”
Caracoglia’s opening score would have been a strong performance alone, but he wasn’t close to being done with his memorable afternoon. After seemingly intercepting a pass from Northwest Catholic’s Connor Rich before the turnover was waved off by a defensive penalty, Caracoglia picked Rich off later in the second quarter, when the Lions were looking to draw closer before the halftime whistle. In the fourth quarter, Caracoglia continued his defensive dominance in the Redcoats’ secondary, recording his second interception early in the fourth quarter on a crucial third down play, before picking off Rich yet again on Northwest Catholic’s final offensive play of the game, denying the Lions a chance of a comeback in a 26-16 win for Berlin.
Caracoglia’s heroics couldn’t have come at a better time for the Redcoats, who have been battered by injury and desperate for contributors to come off the bench and make a difference on both sides of the football. Caracoglia, who was considered a reserve when the season started, did just that on Friday.
“He’s a guy that was trying to get his way into the depth chart to start the season, and now he’s playing both ways,” head coach Joe Aresimowicz said.
The New Britain girls volleyball team entered the new week having won four of its last five games to help boost its state tournament hopes, and Jarrett, a senior, is a big reason why the Hurricanes have enjoyed their recent run of success.
“The girl is just amazing in every sport she plays,” Hurricanes head coach Michelle Abraham said before the season started. “She hasn't missed a practice for me in three years, and that helps. You can't learn if you're not present. She's a good role model and demonstrator of the skills that are natural to her. She's a great teammate. She's always willing to put her game aside to help someone else.”
Jarrett has yet to disappoint.
New Britain picked up a sweep of Bloomfield last Tuesday for what was the team’s fourth win in a row, and Jarrett led the team with nine kills in the dominant victory. The day before, Jarrett overwhelmed East Hartford with 22 kills in a 3-1 win to kick off what was a strong week for the talented upperclassman.
The Hurricanes fell to reigning state semifinalist Southington on Friday afternoon, but Jarrett still threw down 13 kills in the losing effort. The former All-State and all-conference selection is crucial to New Britain’s run at the state tournament.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org