NEWINGTON - The plan is to keep the momentum moving forward.
Before entering its bye week, the Newington football team ended things on a high note with its second win of the season a 20-13 victory over South Windsor.
This week, the Indians (2-2) will be aiming for another win, this time tonight against Bristol Eastern (0-4).
During its time off, Newington has been working towards making strides forward, cleaning up its mistakes and working to play a complete four quarters. Over the last week, the Indians went back to the basics, not only focusing on getting everyone healthy, but also putting a lot of extra attention to the little details.
“The bye week gave us an opportunity to get healthy number one,” Newington head coach Jason Pace said. “We did a lot in the weight room, we got out in practice three or four days, but we really focused on fundamentals. We just broke it down in the areas we needed to improve on.”
For the first time since the season began, Newington is the healthiest it’s been, with the exception of linebacker/running back Javier Polanco, wide receiver/safety Cameron Baker and kicker AJ Ferrera.
“I feel like having everyone back just brings our spirits up,” middle linebacker Julian Mulero said. “Those injuries affected us, ‘like dang we’re super thin and there’s no one else.’ It brought our energy down. But now I’ve seen a big increase in just excitement. People want to be here.”
Baker will be out for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear, whereas Polanco (concussion) and Ferreira should be returning in the matter of weeks.
Ferreira has been out since the start of the season due to after tearing his hip muscle off of his pelvic bone, which needed surgery. The sophomore kicker acted as a major weapon for the Indians and they can’t wait for his return.
“It’s not just about the kickoffs and PATs,” Pace said. “I think Gunnar [Johnson] has done a great job in regards to kickoffs and PATs, but where we sometimes struggle is our punt game. [Ferreira] was able to bring teams back pretty far. He’s just a great weapon for us.”
Besides getting healthy, Newington focused on pursuit drills and tackling, something that lacked against South Windsor.
“We learned from South Windsor that we can’t stop playing after two touchdowns” Newington quarterback Nick Pestrichello said. “We were up 14-0 then in the second quarter they started scoring and we lost momentum. We need to keep playing. It doesn’t matter the score, we have to do everything we can to score and not think about anything else. One bad play can’t define a whole entire drive.”
The Indians will need to make sure they’re hitting their assignments especially for Friday’s matchup.
Lancers wide receiver Jaden Laprise will be Newington’s top priority. Last week Eastern also had its bye week, but the week prior during Bristol Eastern’s 40-34 loss to Farmington, Laprise had 137 yards and three touchdowns on just four catches.
“He is a major threat in the pass game,” Pace said. “Deep balls, he can catch screens and score pretty much every time he touches the ball.”
The Lancers will likely be without, for the second game in a row, senior quarterback Justin Marshall due to hands, foot and mouth disease. That means Bryce Curtin will continue as Marshall’s replacement until he returns. Against Farmington Curtin connected on 9 of his 25 attempts for 210 yards and four touchdowns.
Although Eastern has yet to win a game this season, Newington will not be overlooking its opponent.
“Their record doesn’t show what they can really do,” Pestrichello said. “Their film wasn’t what we were expecting. We can’t go out there thinking we’re going to kill them but we can’t go out there thinking we’re going to lose. We just have to play like I know we can and we’ll be fine.”
Last season the Indians played their worst game of the year against the Lancers, a 9-7 loss. It was Eastern’s first win since 2015, snapping a 17-game losing streak.
“We’re not treating them as a 0-4 football team,” Pace said. “We’re treating them like they’re an opponent that’s hungry. Hungry to go out and beat us, they did it last year. We want to make sure we come out from start to finish because if we don’t we’re not going to be successful.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Tonight, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Veterans Alumni Field, Newington
Records: Newington 2-2, Bristol Eastern 0-4
Last year: Bristol Eastern 9, Newington 7
BREAKDOWN: Before entering its bye week, the Newington football team finally made strides in the right direction and picked up a win in the processes. The Indians are hoping to continue that momentum tonight. During the bye week Newington spent a lot of time on the basics and getting healthy. With almost its entire roster back, the Indians are the healthiest they’ve been all season. It should be a major help heading into tonight’s game against Bristol Eastern. Last season, the Lancers were able to snap a 17-game losing streak and picked up their first win since 2015 after beating Newington 9-7. Bristol Eastern will be without starting QB Justin Marshal for the second game in a row due to an illness, but will have Bryce Curtin stepping in. The Lancers also have wide receiver Jaden Laprise who poses as a huge threat for the Indians. Newington will not be treating Bristol Eastern like a 0-4 team.
Shelby Iava’s prediction:
Newington 21, Bristol Eastern 14