BERLIN - It may be a new season, but it didn’t take the Berlin football team long to revert back to some of its old habits on Saturday.
It wasn’t missed assignments, missed tackles or anything like that. Instead, it was penalties, which proved to be an issue for the Redcoats in 2017. It was an area of concern for Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz coming into the game against Bulkeley/HMTC/Weaver.
He wasn’t wrong. By the time his team left the field, it had racked up 13 penalties for 120 yards in the 41-0 win.
“It’s easy to read the papers and think how good we are,” Aresimowicz said. “It’s a total different thing to come out and execute. We executed well enough [Saturday].”
Well enough, however, wasn’t exactly the goal the Redcoats had set before the season began. This team has high expectations and made clear it wanted to not only make it to the playoffs but finish it and take home the ring, after reaching the postseason the previous two seasons and falling short.
In other words, Berlin needs to clean things up moving forward.
The team was lucky Saturday’s the game was essentially a shoo-in win. In just its second season in Class M after getting bumped for LL, Bulkeley/HMTC/Weaver is still in the midst of trying to build a program under the direction of Teriko Roberts, a former Southern Connecticut State University defensive coordinator.
But what will happen when Berlin is matched up against a team that is more difficult, for example, Bloomfield? If Saturday was an early indication, then not good.
“Honestly, I think we play up to our competition a lot,” Redcoats quarterback Kevin Dunn said. “If this was Bloomfield we would play sound football. I’m not saying [Bulkeley] is a bad team, but the Warhawks are definitely a powerhouse team we have to watch out for, but we would play up to their competition.”
The Warhawks will be Berlin’s biggest test of the season and although the two teams won’t face off until Week 8, Bloomfield still poses a huge threat in the Class M rankings from now unit then.
The Warhawks also had a shutout victory to open up its season and dominated on the field, putting up 53 points over Plainville. But the Redcoats believe if they played Bloomfield instead of the Bulldogs, then there wouldn’t be as many mistakes.
That, however, can be a dangerous line of thinking for a team trying to get past the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
“Coming out of the locker room against a team like Bloomfield, we’re not going to play flat like we did in the third quarter.” Berlin tailback Alex Halkias said. “Against Bloomfield, I don’t think that will be the case.”
The third quarter is where most of the penalties occured. The Redcoats put up no points, after finding the end zone on three different occasions in the first and twice more in the second.
“Overall, I’m disappointed that we had [mistakes], but thought we could [since] it’s the first game,” Aresimowicz said. “I watched a bunch of games the previous night and I saw a lot of mistakes. But it’s the first game.”
Despite the amount of penalties and lost yardage, there were some bright spots in the win, it’s hard not to after scoring 41 points. The Redcoats showed versatility on the field. Instead of running the ball, like we know they can do - Berlin ran for 193 yards in the game - they let the signal caller take charge and air it out for a bit.
After missing his first two passes, Dunn got the jitters out and ended up throwing a career high of 252 yards, 11 yards more than his previous career high of 241 last season in Week 4 against RHAM. He also threw the ball more times in a single game on Saturday than he has previously and connected on 17 of his 27 attempts while throwing three touchdowns.
The Redcoats proved they have the capability to put up points and play well when they want. The only things that could, and will, get in their way are the penalties.
“We’re a better team than that and that’s what I explained to them,” Aresimowicz said.
He, like the rest of us, will find out on Thursday for Berlin’s Week 2 matchup against East Catholic.
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org