BERLIN - With its 27-0 win over Bulkeley/HMTCA/Weaver on Friday night, the Berlin High football team may be just beginning to tap its potential.
While a solid victory, the game also gave the Redcoats a chance to evaluate and fix their weaknesses.
“There were a couple mistakes, a couple people behind me, but it’s stuff you can work on,” senior wide receiver Jeremy Sirois said. “At practices we would do more coverages, more readings, watching more film. I think we came out strong, but after the half we came out slow; but then we picked up the intensity throughout the end of the game.”
Berlin is loaded with talented position players, yet head coach Joe Aresimowicz stressed they are young. The Redcoats’ offensive and defensive lines were led by mostly juniors and sophomores.
Yet the offensive line was a highlight in a game for Berlin, not surprisingly. Just a few days earlier Aresimowicz said it was the deepest lineup that Berlin has had in a long time.
The Redcoats had three players rush for more than 40 yards in the game: Alex Halkias (44 yards), senior James Mazzarella (52 yards on seven carries, with one touchdown) and Zach Hrubiec (73 yards). In all, the Redcoats rushed for 171 yards on 37 carries, with four touchdowns, an average of 4.6 yards per carry.
Not only did the line open up holes for the running backs, quarterback Kevin Dunn also had ample opportunities to throw the ball. Dunn completed 10 of his 21 pass attempts for 182 yards.
While the offensive line was having its way with Bulkeley’s defensive line, Berlin’s defensive line was having its own way with the Bulldogs’ offensive line. Bulkeley made the Redcoats work for their first touchdown, after going an entire scoreless first quarter.
In the second half of the game, Berlin tightened up and didn’t allow much.
Sophomore captain Zach Hrubiec said they studied what Bulkeley played in the first half.
“We didn’t really know what they were going to run,” he said, noting that the film they had wasn’t great.
After the half, he said, “We just pounded what was good.”
One area that needs improvement: On Friday night Berlin had nine penalties for a total of 105 yards.
Junior kicker Giancarlo Tufano said Bulkeley gave them a “really hard run.”
“First half, 14-0, they played great,” he said. “Two interceptions, the whole defense played great, complete shut out right there. That’s what we want every week, shutouts.
“We took it a little light at first and then Bulkeley gave it everything they got, and so we finally said, ‘Alright we have to take this seriously, buckle down and play our Berlin football.’”
As for other improvements, Tufano said the Redcoats need to work on better coverage and better starts.
Overall, it wasn’t the prettiest game that Berlin has ever played. In fact, it was what Aresimowicz feared it would be. A young team, with much room to grow, committed a lot of penalties and started off slow, but got the job done.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org