NEWINGTON - After losing three straight games, the message for the Newington football team coming into tonight’s game against Bristol Central is simple - don’t point any fingers and regroup.
“We need to focus on what we need to do individually to help the team succeed,” Indians head coach Jason Pace said. “So that’s been our focus - where can we improve and what area we can improve in and stay positive.”
For Newington (2-3), the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Indians had key players dealing with injuries and with the lighter week in practice should be beneficial for going forward, including for both Luke Pappalardo and Aveontae Frazier, who should be back to full strength against the Rams.
Matchup wise, Bristol Central (2-3) presents the Indians with speed led by tailback Darrell Payton, who has been the focal point of the Rams’ offense.
A running back that can run between the tackles and has breakaway speed, Payton ran for 171 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns in Central’s 33-0 win over Wethersfield in Week 3. Stopping him must be a point of emphasis for Newington.
“They have a passing game but it’s not as good as their run game,” Indians lineman Damon Stewart said. “Once we shut down the outside sweeps and a lot of jet [sweeps] that they run, it’ll be a much easier game.
At the cornerback position, the Rams also have speed and on both sides. The Bristol Central secondary has sideline-to-sideline speed.
“They fight for the ball and get to the ball very quick,” Newington quarterback Robert Sanchez said.
For the Indians, size on the line both on offense and defense is an advantage they believe they can exploit against the Rams.
“We shouldn’t let that get to us,” Sanchez said. “We should just go out and play no matter what size the line is.”
Using Frazier on the ground could be something the Indians do early and often against Bristol Central. Sanchez also has the ability to run and the two have combined for 612 rushing yards through five games.
Newington knows Bristol Central can play with quality losses to Windsor, Maloney and Middletown. Those three teams have a combined record of 14-1 this season.
In order for the Indians to come away with a victory, the turnover battle will be key and has played a pivotal role in the losses this season. Through the first five weeks, Newington has 14 turnovers.
“We’ve just had them at the wrong times,” Pace said. “And along with that mental capacity to just move on and we just let up a turnover and need to focus on the next play but we sort of hit a low and then we come out and the other team hits us for a big play.”
Two similar teams with the same record sets up for a good showdown tonight.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan