Tarik Hetmyer caught a swing pass, made a cut and took off downfield, leaving the defensive players behind to play catch up, eliciting a yell from his teammates.
In a season that is set to see plenty of change for the New Britain football team, especially with the number of new players that will take the field, some things have remained the same. Hetmyer’s big-play ability chief among them.
“I’ve been working on my speed, footwork, agility, all that,” Hetmyer said during one of the Hurricanes’ training camp practices. “I’m trying to be the best all-around player, on offense and defense, that I can be.”
Last season, Hetmyer served as a do-everything-type of player for New Britain, often put in position to generate a big play to catch a defense off guard when it stacked the box too much. It resulted in Hetmyer finishing with 530 total yards and seven touchdowns, including 170 all-purpose yards and two scores against Enfield, his longest play from scrimmage going 57 yards.
Hetmyer will most likely have an even bigger role in the Hurricanes offense this season.
Gone are standout running backs Shawn Robinson and Kaiyon Gunn, as well as quarterback Tahje Yopp. Those three were a focal point of an offense that rushed for nearly 3,500 yards last season, with Robinson and Yopp eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark, and averaged 40 point a game.
And with that will come more attention from opposing defenses, but at the same time, Hetmyer isn’t shying away from the challenge.
“I know that more teams are going to key on me because of what they saw last year,” Hetmyer said. “I did a lot of work in the offseason to get ready. I worked on my running form, used some resistant bands, worked on my hips to become more explosive as a player. Did a lot of bench, squat, power clean, all that.”
It should help that New Britain will be a little more balanced this season in terms of run-pass ratio with Monte Dickson at quarterback. The Hurricanes threw the ball fewer than 90 times in 2018. Dickson was responsible for six of those passes, while Heymyer also threw one.
“Every skill guy has stepped up this summer,” Dickson said. “They know what they have to do to be successful, Tarik included. He’s been playing well all summer.”
But it’s also more than just the on-field production Hetmyer is trying make up for. He’s also been taking on more of a leadership role for a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience in a number of key spots, including along the offensive line, wide receiver and along the defensive side of the ball.
“Last year, I didn’t have a vocal part to the team,” he said. “I have to step up now and teach the younger guys. I have to be more of a leader this year.”
But no matter how the younger players will develop throughout the season, Hetmyer still plans on having opposing defenses playing catch up.
“We’re going to surprise a lot of people this season,” Hetmyer said.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org