MANCHESTER â€“ The East Catholic football teamâ€™s double wing offense is one built on disguise and deception. With a packed backfield and different motions from their running backs, the Eagles hope to catch opposing defenses off-balanced with their unorthodox scheme.
Berlin countered that attack on Friday night with a clear-cut game plan with no trickery involved: run the ball down the gut of the defense early and often, and use its size instead of any elaborate creativity.
The Redcoatsâ€™ plan worked in the form of a 43-7 rout on the road and 212 total rushing yards from Jamie Palmese and Johnny McGeever in the blowout win, while the defense clipped the double wing and allowed just two first downs in the first half, and three total before the second unit came in to take care of garbage time.
â€śWe thought we had an advantage with our offensive line, and we have really good backs,â€ť head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. â€śThey were able to hit some holes and score some touchdowns.â€ť
Berlin began its first drive with no secrets, handing it off to McGeever four straight times for 34 yards, and two plays later, gave it to the junior again for a 19-yard touchdown run with 6:45 left in the first quarter. After a botched snap on the PAT attempt, freshman kicker Josh Grimm ran it in and turned a broken play into two extra points, giving the Redcoats an 8-0 lead.
The Berlin defense recovered a fumble off a handoff exchange three plays later, and after two more gives to McGeever, Palmese ran in a touchdown on a rare run to the outside from 19 yards out, extending the lead to 14-0. With less than a minute remaining in the quarter, Palmese took a direct snap and cruised up the middle for a 13-yard score to make it a 21-0 lead, and the rout was on.
â€śWeâ€™d been practicing that for a couple weeks, and in times we needed it,â€ť Palmese said of the direct snap. â€śIt put up points on the board.â€ť
The Redcoats attempted just two passes in the entire first half, instead consistently feeding Palmese on direct snaps for big gains between the tackles, including a 40-yard touchdown run with 5:24 left in the half to put the Redcoats ahead 28-0. Palmeseâ€™s direct snap plays continued on Berlinâ€™s following drive, gaining 41 yards on three plays before Kyle Krupa punched it in from the 1-yard line to give the Redcoats the commanding lead at the half.
â€śAll week we had the scheme of run it down their throatâ€¦and we executed really well with that,â€ť Palmese said. â€śThe offensive line created holes that you would not believe.â€ť
On the other side, the defense entered the break having allowed just 36 yards on the ground while the offense ran up the score. Palmese accumulated 113 yards on his own through the first 24 minutes of play.
With a running clock in the second half, Berlin kept running it on the ground, milking nearly seven minutes off the clock and capping its drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to Krupa, his second of the night to stretch the lead to 43-0. East Catholic erased the shutout with a 9-yard touchdown run from Michael Oâ€™Connor with just under four minutes left in the game, but it represented an anomaly in a run game that was smothered by the Redcoats.
â€śIt was good to know our (defensive) scheme works,â€ť Aresimowicz said.
Berlin 43, East Catholic 7
At Cheney Tech High School, Manchester
Berlin (7-1) 21 14 8 0 â€“ 43
E. Catholic (1-7) 0 0 0 7 â€“ 7
Berlin: Johnny McGeever 19 run (Josh Grimm run) 6:45
Berlin: Jamie Palmese 19 run (Grimm kick no good) 5:14
Berlin: Palmese 13 run (Grimm kick) 0:20
Berlin: Palmese: 40 run (Grimm kick) 5:24
Berlin: Kyle Krupa 1 run (Grimm kick) 1:06
Berlin: Krupa 14 run (conversion good) 5:26
East Catholic: Michael Oâ€™Connor 9 run (Nathan Kincheloe kick) 3:56
Rushing â€“ Berlin: Palmese 7-115-3TD, McGeever 10-97-TD, Krupa 3-28-2TD. East Catholic: Oâ€™Connor 10-61-TD, Christopher Connelly 9-16, Nathan Kincheloe 6-18.
Passing â€“ Berlin: Justin Skates 2-2-39. East Catholic: Mathieu Zazzaro 2-9-44.
Receiving â€“ Berlin: Krupa 2-36. East Catholic: Ryan Heslin 1-41.