BERLIN - With a very young, but talented group, it’s tough to say who will be leading the team for the Berlin Redcoats this season.
After going 8-3 a year ago, the Redcoats are looking for a similar goal: a state playoff berth.
“It’s our mentality. We’re supposed to make the playoffs, we’re Berlin High,” coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “We’re going to work really hard throughout the season to do that, and we worked really hard in the off-season to try to make that happen.”
Aresimowicz is confident the Redcoats can accomplish that goal.
“And if we don’t, it won’t be because of lack of effort by the kids or the coaches,” Aresimowicz said.
Berlin is football town. Children are able to start playing as young as 7-years-old. This is no different for the incoming ninth-grade class, who have been playing together since they were just about that age.
In addition, the eighth-grade class, who has won three league championships, has also been playing since they were 7.
“It’s part of the ability for us not to have the down years, or the rebuilding years,” Aresimowicz said. “We don’t rebuild, we just reload.”
The Redcoats reloaded with Alex Halkias, a junior running back. Halkias started as a sophomore last year, ending the season with nine touchdowns.
“I feel good about the season. We’ve been working all summer long, and I think we’re ready,” Halkias said. “I think we’ll do even better than last season.”
Zach Hrubiec, who started as a freshman last year and made the all-conference team as a defensive linemen, will be starting again, playing fullback as well as the D-Line.
“For the season I think we’re looking really good,” Hrubiec said. “But this year is different. We have skills. Our line is not the biggest but we’re skilled, we’re athletic and I think we have a chance.”
Kevin Dunn has taken over the reins at quarterback. Converted from receiver, Dunn stepped onto the field for the first time as a quarterback for the junior varsity team last year.
The Redcoats also have wide receiver/free safety Andrew Brochu and tight end/linebacker/kicker Giancarlo Tufano as key players returning.
Entering the new season, the Redcoats have one thing on their mind, Rocky Hill. The Terriers’ game has been circled on the Redcoats whiteboard. After last year’s 28-14 loss, the Redcoats have been determined to end things differently.
“It wasn’t our best game, kind of got bullied. But this year, it’s going to be different,” Dunn said. “We’ve prepared a lot. We’re ready for them.”
The Redcoats will face their rival on November 10.
Berlin lost a plethora of talented players from the 2016 season, including quarterback Jack Hamel, who is now playing for Central Connecticut State University. The Redcoats also lost receiver/defensive back Mitch Maslowski, who will be playing for Westfield State, lineman Nick Lojko, who will be playing for Nichols College, and lineman/linebacker Daniel Labbadia.
“We lost almost our whole offensive line and our backfield,” Aresimowicz said. “We’re replacing everybody but Alex Halkias in the backfield.”
The Redcoats also brought in a new offensive coordinator, Mike Eagle.
“I begged for him to come over to us,” Aresimowicz said. “He was the head coach down in Guilford and was also the head coach at the Morgan School in Clinton. It’s like having another head coach on the field to be our offensive coordinator.”
Jeff Perillo will return for his sixth season as defensive coordinator. Alongside Aresimowicz, Eagle and Perillo, the Redcoats will be joined by 10 more coaches.
“I have a great coaching staff,” Aresimowicz said. “All of them work really hard, they work hard in the offseason, they learn their craft, and I’m blessed to have them.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org