NEW BRITAIN - Under head coach Tebucky Jones, the New Britain football team has a long-standing rule - 24 hours to process a game, win or lose, and move on to the next. It never changes.
So that was the approach the Hurricanes took. First, entering the week of preparation and then into their game against Hall Thursday night, after three up-and-down weeks to begin the season.
And as if right on cue, it didn’t take long for the ‘good’ New Britain team to show up on the field. Yes, it was not always perfect at times and Jones admitted as much following the 43-21 win, but the Hurricanes found a formula for success and stuck with it.
After being bullied around the field last Friday night in its 34-21 loss to South Windsor, for 48 minutes, New Britain did the same thing to the Warriors.
The game plan on the surface was simple - run the ball until Hall managed to stop it. In the end, the Warriors couldn’t.
“They were afraid of Jahfari [Newman]’s arm,” Hurricanes running back Shawn Robinson said. “I mean, who wouldn’t be? Once we saw the linebackers creeping back, we just came downhill and ran the ball. We have a great dual in me and Muhammed [Codjoe]. We have Kaiyon [Gunn]. We have a good rotation.”
Out of New Britain’s 76 offensive plays, 60 came via the ground game, collecting a total of 378 yards (6.3 yards per carry) as the offensive line opened up plenty of holes. Robinson received more than half those carries, rushing 31 times for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
But he was not the only tailback Hall had to worry about. In his first game back from injury, Codjoe complimented Robinson’s shifty style of running with a power style. He finished the night with 107 yards and two scores on 16 carries. Together, the two formed a nice 1-2 punch that wore down the Warriors.
The Hurricanes threw the ball just three times in the second half, compared to 38 runs. And out of New Britain’s 12 total drives, all but three lasted six plays or more.
“The blocking scheme was good,” said Robinson, who now has 524 yards and five touchdowns on the season. “We dominated up front, got a good push and there were holes. We were giving them different looks, but the run game was strong and then when we had a chance to go over the top with a pass, we went for it.”
Even with the commitment to the running game, what benefited the Hurricanes the most was they started the game fast.
New Britain scored on its first drive of the game when Newman hit Tahje Yopp for a 5-yard touchdown pass and the team kept scoring. Robinson and Codjoe each scored once in the first half and scored three touchdowns between them after halftime.
While the result on the scoreboard was nice for the players, Jones had a little more of a tempered response, telling his team it needed to stop playing down to the level of competition of some of its opponents - such as when Hall was trading touchdowns with the Hurricanes in the beginning of the game - and play elevated all the time.
In other words, there is still plenty of work to do in the coming weeks.
“It’s good to get the win, but we still have a long way to go,” the head coach said. “On defense, there’s too many mistakes. To be four weeks in, you can’t make that many mistakes.
“They hit us with two trick plays. When you’re in a zone defense, the corner is supposed to be deep and there’s guys in the flat, you can’t be running up, things like that that they have to get right.”
“This game, we put up points [on offense], but we were too flat,” Jones added. “You gotta love this game. When you come out, you have to play at a high level. When someone on your team scores a touchdown, you should be excited. [Our players] have to learn to do that and intertwine the two. We won, but I’m not happy.”
So how does New Britain prevent the good one week and bad the next trend it has been stuck on this season? That, according to the players, has to be about the team’s mindset.
“We have to take the 24-hour rule very seriously,” Robinson said. “So what happens [Thursday], the next day, none of that matters. It’s on to the next game. We have to believe and come out with the same attitude every game and get the job done.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach