NEW BRITAIN - The story for New Britain football has changed little the past two seasons - inconsistent play has cost the Golden Hurricanes games it should have won.
New Britain’s 2016 ended in similar fashion to 2015, a loss to Berlin in the season finale to finish a disappointing 5-5. In those losses, the Hurricanes were outscored 150-69.
With the new season here, the players and coaches have their sights set on making sure 2017 doesn’t go the same way.
“The biggest thing to me right now is nobody is vocally bigger than anybody else,” senior quarterback Jahfari Newman said. “Everyone is coming to practice every day willing to get reps, willing to get better. So a big thing to me is everyone is willing to work. We don’t have kids that don’t want to do stuff. We have kids willing to do everything. The scout team is going hard, the starters are going hard. Everything is going in the right direction.”
New Britain will have to be better. There were moments last season when the Hurricanes would outplay most of their opponents, and then there were times when it looked like they couldn’t beat anyone. Penalties and missed assignments were the biggest culprits. Those have been points of emphasis for the players this offseason.
It has been two years since one of the most successful high school football programs last made it to the postseason. Many of the players on this year’s roster have never been and they expect to play their way into December football.
“We’re working really hard,” senior lineman Jacob Clark said. “New coaches, so there’s a different feel, but we’re getting there. Everyone is working hard. We’re looking real good heading into the first game and we’ll see what we can do.”
Entering the season, New Britain has some question marks on both sides of the ball, but has a good mixture of young players joining veterans in the starting lineup. On offense, the Hurricanes will have to replace their two leading receivers, Alex Silva and Dajion Hill, as well as leading rusher Keyon Wellington.
Both Silva and Hill were mainstays in the secondary on defense as well.
But New Britain believes it has a group of receivers, led by Jayshawn Alexandre and Tahje Yopp, to replace the production it lost as well as a stable of running backs set to feature Kaiyon Gunn and Muhamed Codje, among others, who head coach Tebucky Jones said has more talent as a group than the backfield a season ago.
It has been another group, however, that has caught the attention of the quarterback.
“Based on training camp and stuff I would say the offensive line has been playing great,” Newman said. “We lost one or two guys from last year, but the dudes that were behind them got some playing time last year so they know what it’s like to be in a game. I would say that’s our strength and that’s where we’re going to start the season.”
Along with the offensive line, a strength for the offense will be Newman, who is now entering his second season as the team’s full-time starter. Last year, he completed 47 percent of his passes for 1,862 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
And the players and coaches have noted the difference, especially with his grasp of the system.
“He looks pretty good,” Jones said. “His arm looks stronger. I mean, there’s always things he could work on, but he came in looking pretty good. He’s another year older. He started all last year and got that under his belt. Now in his senior year, he’s just got to keep improving.”
On the defensive side, along with Hill and Silva, the Hurricanes lost standout defensive lineman Michael Glasper as well as outside linebacker London Chambers. But the front four, led by junior Devon Bishop, appears to be the strength of the unit once again. Alexandre will be the team’s No. 1 corner with Gunn and some of the other younger players rotating throughout the secondary.
Even with the myriad of different faces at some key positions, the Hurricanes have every intention of breaking out of the 5-5 trend for a successful season.
“There’s no telling what we could do,” Alexandre said. “As long as everyone does the job and plays their position correctly - we have guys that can change positions, we have all type of athletes on this team - as long we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, perfecting our craft on and off the field, there’s no telling what this squad can do. This team can beat any team we go up against. We have the athletes to do it. We just have to get our confidence up and our mindset up and we’ll be perfectly fine.”
As always, New Britain will have 10 games to prove it. The Hurricanes just have to put it together on the field.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach