NEW BRITAIN - Whenever the New Britain and East Hartford football teams meet, especially as of late, one thing is certain - the game always has a chance to be exciting at the end.
Each of the last two meetings between the teams has come down to a late fourth-quarter touchdown. The Hornets got the upper hand in 2015 with a late punt return, while Hurricanes returned the favor last year when quarterback Jahfari Newman threw a touchdown pass to seal the 14-9 win.
Tonight’s matchup could be no different, but New Britain (3-4) will have to play perhaps its best game of the season.
Both teams have gone in two different trajectories this season. The Hurricanes managed to snap a two-game skid last Friday, beating Glastonbury 39-29, to earn their first win in a month. No. 15 East Hartford (6-1), meanwhile, has won its last six, including knocking off No. 2 Southington 27-20 last week.
“They’re a big, strong team and athletic,” New Britain head coach Tebucky Jones.
“They have a lot of weapons on that team. They have a quarterback, good running back, receivers. Their defense comes up and hits.”
But the Hurricanes believe they have the athletes to matchup with the Hornets, especially at the skill positions.
“With a team like we have, we’re playing against those type of players all the time in practice,” New Britain receiver/cornerback Jayshawn Alexandre said. “They have great athletes, they have great receivers, guys that can run [but] we guard that every day in practice. So it won’t be a new type of challenge, but it will be a pretty good game comparing our athletes together.”
One of those athletes for East Hartford, is running back/linebacker Kevon Jones, a UConn commit. Listed at 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, the senior has a knack for being around the football, leading his team in both rushing and total tackles.
The Hornets’ offense also features a dual-threat quarterback in junior Raquan Tompkins, who threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another 73 yards and a score last week, as well as two receivers in Jaquan Allen and Jayden Gardener, both of who possess plenty of speed to run by defenders. Against Southington, Gardener finished with three catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, while Allen caught two passes for 67 yards.
Overall, East Hartford is averaging 33.4 points per game on offense. New Britain’s defense, on the on the other hand, is giving up 30.1 point to opponents a week.
“We have to make sure we make the plays we need to make,” Alexandre said. “We cannot come out missing tackles, we cannot come out missing assignments. As long as we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing and everyone doing their assignments, we should be alright on defense.”
But in a game like this, tonight will most likely come down to what many of the Hurricanes’ games this season, either win or lose, have come down to.
“It’s always the same,” Jones said. “We have to go out and execute and keep the penalties down, which have been hurting us.”