Berlin football eying tough test with top-ranked Hall

Published on Thursday, 21 October 2021 21:38
Written by TYLER HETU


It doesn’t get any easier for Berlin football this week.

Undefeated Hall (5-0) comes to Sage Park to take on the Redcoats (3-2) Friday night. The Warriors are well-known as one of the most dominant teams the state of Connecticut has to offer, currently sitting at No. 1 on the CIAC’s Class LL rankings.

Berlin, meanwhile, is ranked at No. 10 in Class M, a smaller class by school and team size, but that doesn’t mean it’s not capable of knocking off the man on top.

Headfirst the Redcoats go into this week in an effort to knock off the top dog and state title hopeful Warriors. Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz said the spirits and energy is up this week, going back to the basics after taking time off.

“I think they feel good,” said Aresimowicz. “We feel good and are confident in the plan we’ve installed and want to reestablish our running game and in the two week’s we’ve done a little team building, a little resting, and a lot of fundamental practice.

Going back to the fundamentals has been key for Berlin, who has been strong in moving the ball downfield, but has had issues at time containing big plays and holding on to possession. Interceptions and lost fumbles to Maloney sucked the wind out Berlin in Week 5, and a rushing attack by the Spartans quickly put Berlin in a hole.

After the loss Berlin was able to take some time off before getting back into the swing of things, focusing on the basics.

"We have them the long weekend off and then got right back into it Tuesday,” said Aresimowicz. “... We sent them film to look at and then we just got back into non-contact, fundamental drills for the week, which was really nice. This week we got back at it (full-contact) Monday after school."

Now, with attention turning to Hall, the Redcoats see a team that doesn’t have a hitch in its momentum and has playing considerably well despite multiple one-score wins.

"Can't really find an overall kink (in their defense,)” said Aresimowicz. “A well coached team, they've got a lot of seniors. ... They really stick in the games. A lot of games they've come back, or they've held on to a lead in the fourth quarter. ... It's a pretty seasoned team."

Hall’s last game was a one-point win over Platt, 39-38 on Oct. 15. Before that, it was a 27-19 win over Southington, a 29-26 win over Warde, a 42-27 win over Simsbury and then the season-opening win over East Hartford 46-42.

By no means is Hall blowing out schools and holding them to minimal points, which gives Aresimowicz some faith that the Redcoats can puts a crooked number on the board with a potent offense by establishing its running game.

“We're going in with the idea that we can establish the run, and pass when we have to,” said Aresimowicz. “… It shows that if you execute your plays well and get some man-on-man or some blocking, I like our athletes (to make a score happen). It also shows you they like the close games, and they’re not going to ever give up and hang into the end.”

Aresimowicz said Berlin isn’t keying in on one specific player on the offensive side of things, and are preparing for the healthy mix of pass and run as a whole. Left-hander Eli Salomons leads the club in passing, completing 70% of passes for 901 yards, 376 of which belong to leading receiver Matt Farber. On the ground, Hall is led by Leo Perreira with 731 yards rushing and four scores.

Salomons has also found receivers Landon Traverse for 266 yards and Angelo Culmo for 143 yards, both for two touchdowns.

Defensively, Hall is led by Hudson Hollander’s 37 tackles and Tommy Laspada’s 2 ½ sacks.

For Berlin, the team is led offensively by Jamie Palmese and his 9.9 average yards per carry for 564 yards. Toby Lavender is behind him with 348 yards and 6.6 yards per carry. Together, they have 13 touchdowns.

Quarterback Lorenzo Miele is back under center this week, and will improve on his team-leading 698 passing yards with six passing touchdowns. He’s found Palmese for 246 receiving yards, a team-high.

Defensively Jon D’Amore will continue a state-level season, entering Friday with a team-high 75 tackles, 11 for a loss. He also leads the team in sacks with four. Jon Jon Morales, a speedster who also sees time as a wide receiver and running back, leads the club in interceptions with two.

With homecoming this Friday, an added layer of excitement is on top of the night. Aresimowicz hopes it lights a fire under his team, particularly the seniors, who are getting a final go around this year as we enter the back end of the year.

“I hope they do (come out with energy),” said Aresimowicz. “This season is all about them, … this is it. … The last thing we want to do is turn in our equipment after (the season finale).”

Kickoff comes at 7 p.m. at Sage Park Friday.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin on Thursday, 21 October 2021 21:38. Updated: Thursday, 21 October 2021 21:40.