NEW BRITAIN - As the New Britain football team walked off the field last Friday night, head coach Tebucky Jones didn’t want his players to get too ahead of themselves just yet. After all, it was only Week 1.
“One [win] down, nine to go,” Jones said after the 35-0 win over Conard.
So tonight, the Hurricanes (1-0) look to put another check mark in the win column as they host Manchester (0-1) at Veterans Stadium in their home opener.
The matchup should provide an interesting test for a young New Britain secondary that wasn’t challenged much against the Chieftains. Last week, Conard threw the ball 20 times, but most came on screens or short passes over the middle of the field. The Indians are sure to offer a different challenge, especially with an offense capable of scoring plenty and one that operates on passing first and running second. Manchester put up 43 points in its overtime loss to Enfield last week.
Although All-State receiver Jevin Frett is gone, the Indians in an experience quarterback in Logan Tomlinson, who has the ability to run just as well as he can throw. Running back Eli Ford also returns. He rushed for 143 yards on 21 carries in the game last season, while Joah Dudley and Alius Gonzalez figure to be the two main receivers.
“We beat them last year [62-38], but that doesn’t mean anything,” New Britain linebacker Robert Zapor said. “We can’t underestimate them. They put up a lot of points last week. But they run a lot of screens and a lot of repetition of plays. Watching film, you can see what their bread and butter is and we have to put a stop to it.”
As well as the Hurricanes’ defense played in Week 1 and is expected to do again tonight, the players admitted the offense left a lot to be desired despite scoring 21 of the team’s 35 points and rushing for 254 yards. New Britain knows if it wants to be considered a serious contender week in and week out, it has to be consistent on that side of the ball.
“We did great defensively, but offensively we have to step up,” left guard Juliano Morales said. “We have to bring it. We have to be more aggressive and more discipline. We had too many penalties last week. We have the veteran group to go out there and get it done.”
As their game against Enfield showed, the Indians’ defense can be exploited. Manchester prefers to have its defenders drop deep in coverage in its 3-5-3 defense, leaving the short and intermediate routes open for an opposing team to dink and dunk it, something that should work in New Britain’s favor considering the inexperience at quarterback.
Tahje Yopp got the start against Conard and attempted just seven passes. Junior Monte Dickson was back practicing this week after an injury sidelined him in Week 1. Jones is once again keeping his decision on who will start a “game-time decision,” although Yopp did get a majority of reps in practice.
“We have to control the line of scrimmage and throw the ball a little bit better,” Jones said. “We just have to execute, whether we’re running or passing. If we do that, we’ll be good.”
That, of course, will be key for the Hurricanes in all three phases like they were in the season opener. At the same time, the players know last week’s win doesn’t mean much. It’s about playing well tonight.
“We can’t be complacent,” Zapor said. “If we do that and execute, we should be alright.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org