The New Britain area football teams enjoyed a bye week, taking a break from the action to go back to the drawing board in an effort to make final adjustments for the back end of the regular season.
With some schools still in the mix for a postseason berth the next few weeks leading until November will be crucial. The CIAC football postseason starts with quarterfinals on November 30th, semifinals on December 5th and state finals on December 11th.
The hunt for the postseason is on. Here's how area teams look through the midway point of October.
Verdict: New Britain has made some strong improvements each week, and finally got on the board with a 35-14 win against Manchester. Before that it was a one point loss to Conard.
Things are looking up for the Hurricanes and first-year head coach Isiah Boddie, but they've still got a ways to go before they can swing it with the big dogs.
Led by freshman quarterback Donovan Campbell, the 'Canes have promise with a offensive new system and with senior running back and linebacker Diego Ortiz a central part on both sides of the ball, the players have some strong senior influence to generate a spark. The team is still very young, raw, and at times undisciplined, but the team has obvious potential to become a force as long as everyone buys in and believes they can become a top club.
Will New Britain get there this season? Maybe not. But with so many players improving rapidly each week as underclassmen, New Britain may be in a good spot for the next year if it keeps the pace going for development. However, with the schedule coming up New Britain's youth is going to get a front row seat to three playoff-caliber teams that have no desire in slowing down for the Hurricanes.
Let's see if they're ready for it.
Verdict: Berlin's season has been a rollercoaster, but it's been a fun one at least.
The Redcoat offense has been one of the best in the area to start the season, supplying a healthy dose of the run as always. But defensively, the Redcoats have lacked, and it's hurt them enough to take them out of games - forcing the offense to try and force itself into situations that'll lead it to a turnover or loss of yards.
No love is lost for the struggles, though. Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz trusts his guys on both sides of the ball and believes in them. The Redcoats have one of the strongest backfields in the area with Jamie Palmese (564 yards, 9.9 per carry), Toby Lavender (348 yards), Jon D'Amore (160 yards) and Jon Jon Morales (146 yards), all combining for 16 touchdowns on the ground this season. The same group is influential on the defensive side with D'Amore leading in tackles with 75 and sacks with four. Morales also has the high in interceptions with two, including a 60-yard pick-6 last time out against Maloney.
Berlin's team is still good and worthy of a playoff spot, and if it comes up with anything but a playoff berth this season I have a feeling a lot of people in Berlin will be disappointed. Standards are high, and I can't imagine the Redcoats come up that short of them in the next couple of weeks.
Verdict: Southington has looked good since its season-opening win against Maloney, where it scored a game-winning touchdown in the final minute of action to start the season 1-0 without head coach Mike Drury. Since then, Drury is back, and the team has not skipped a beat.
With Jack Barnum under center the Blue Knights have found themselves in a familiar position, back in the hunt for a playoff seed in Class XXX. Barnum's 936 yards passing and 11 touchdowns have made him an indispensable player for them (he's also the team's kicker), and the ability to spread the ball across multiple receivers has kept defenses uneasy.
Ryan Delmonte (309 yards, fours scores), Gavin Anderson (217 yards, three scores), Justin Zitofsky (150 yards, one score) and John Flynn (110 yards) have been the targets of choice, and none have disappointed. To change it up, the Blue knights have Lincoln Cardillo (368 yards rushing) and Javon Thomas (256 yards) to run the ball and set up the pass.
Is Southington for real? The jury is out on that. But a 27-19 loss to a good Hall team is a good measure for how good the team is, and the combined record of team's they've beat are at 6-14. We'll see how they face in the back end of the season.
Padraig Brown's 873 yards passing leads the team, and has leaned heavily on Josiah Ross (26 catches, 320 yards, six scores) and Austyn Howe (20 catches, 352 yards, seven scores). The passing game is one of the better ones in the area and the rushing game is no slouch either, averaging 6.3 yards per carry as a team with Shakir Smith leading at 319 yards.
Newington is good, as the stats show, but with elevated competition coming up it'll be interesting to see where the Nor'easters will end up in the postseason race. The strength of schedule hasn't been the best, but they can get through and have a postseason chance if they keep mixing up its looks on offense.
Defensive stats were unavailable for Newington as of Sunday.
Verdict: Plainville football has sneakily put up a good season for the Herald-Press area.
The Blue Devils grinded out wins over South Windsor, Lyman Hall, Bristol Eastern and Lewis Mills, maxing out at 27 points scored on offense. Despite a 91-120 point scored to allowed differential (due to a 48-0 loss to Bloomfield), the Blue Devils are in a good position to finish strong.
A rushing mix of Ky McGraw and Michael Bakaysa, with Bakaysa also able to sling it down field, has worked well, but the real story with Plainville comes from the defensive effort. In its win over Eastern, the Lancers remarked on their strong play despite Plainville being "killed" by the big play early in the season.
They aren't flashy, and they won't have any players blow out the scorebook with extreme numbers. They'll grind out a win with a balanced approach on offense and will keep the game competitive on defense, but without a complete stat sheet (MaxPreps was not updated as of Sunday) it's hard to see where they thrive in regards to rushing the passer or locking down in the secondary.
But, don't count out Tim Shea's boys. I have a feeling they can finish strong with a weak schedule ahead.
Verdict: Goodwin Tech's season has seen it get blown out each week, including two weeks where it was shutout.
Goodwin's season would need a miracle to end the season at .500, and with four of its next five games at home for the rest of the season, some home field magic could happen. They're due for something to happen in their favor, but for now, they're on the outside looking in when it comes to a football postseason.
Stats for Goodwin Tech's season and players, who are also co-op'd with Vinal Tech, were unavailable as of Sunday.