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Tough start for football, volleyball

Football

It has been a difficult stretch for the Redcoats, to say the least.

After making it to the Class M state finals a year ago, Berlin is attempting to reload after losing a pair of 1,000-yard rushers and numerous other talented players.

Unfortunately, the Redcoat offense still has yet to find its stride, and the locals find themselves at 0-2, with losses to Bristol Eastern (21-14) and Bloomfield (7-0).

While the offensive line has been a valuable part of Berlin’s game, the Redcoats have struggled to get their ground game going.

Eric Garcia is the team’s leading rusher with 95 yards through two games, while Dan McLeod has been the most efficient rusher, averaging a team best 3.8 yards per carry.

Unfortunately for Berlin, the inability to move the chains has put more pressure on quarterback Mitch Williams.

The man under center had a fantastic campaign last year, but defenses won’t be fooled as easily this season.

Williams has passed for just 176 yards so far, and has thrown three interceptions.

Regardless of the offensive woes, the Redcoat defense has been solid, led by junior Jack Strafstrom’s and McLeod’s 17 tackles apiece.

Eight Redcoats are averaging five or more tackles per game.

Berlin looks to get back on track Friday at Sage Park against Tolland.

Volleyball

Starting 0-4 is not an ideal way to begin a season.

Then again, starting a season against powerhouse programs such as Bristol Central, Conard, Bristol Eastern and Platt is not ideal, either.

With the difficult stretch of their season -- thankfully -- over, the Berlin girls can focus more on the heart of CCC South play, and working on their weaknesses: kill shots.

“We’re not coming together as quickly as I’d hoped for, but we are coming together,” said coach Bob Tarigo, whose team was 1-4 at press time. “We’re bumping the ball well, we’re passing the well pretty well to our setter, we have good serve reception, but right now, we’re not putting the ball away. We give the opposing team too many free balls to hit back at us.”

Lack of solid production from the outside hitters has resulted in a small number of sets won. The Lady Redcoats have won just three sets, and all came against Bulkeley.

Senior Amanda Patterson has successfully received 46 of 51 serves, giving the Redcoats great opportunities throughout each game.

On the flip side of the ball, the team is serving 90 percent overall.

Boys soccer

It’s never fun to open the season with a loss, but for Berlin, it wasn’t an issue.

Since a 4-2 loss to Conard, the Redcoats have won three straight and find themselves in a good spot moving forward.

“We’re right where we want to be,” said coach Dave Francalangia.

Conard is ranked seventh in the state.

“That game, we learned a lot about ourselves, and that we can play with some of the better teams in the state,” Francalangia said.

With a swell of confidence, since that loss, the Redcoats rattled off win after win, outscoring their opponents 9-3.

During the stretch, Berlin bested Bristol Eastern, 3-2, in overtime.

Being challenged is nothing new to this group, as there are 12 seniors on the squad.

With the likes of forward/midfielder Alex Bednarek, midfielder Steve Burns, midfielder Andres Sanchez, and defender Matthew Heimlich leading a strong senior class, Berlin has incredible balance.

Brian Bostrom is holding it down in net.

“He started off a little shaky in the first game, but he’s come back strong and has made a couple of amazing saves that have kept us in games and helped us win games,” Francalangia said.

Girls soccer

The Lady Redcoats are growing up rather quickly.

After suffering a season-opening loss to Northwest Catholic, 3-0, the BHS girls slowly but surely started to turn their season around; first, with a 0-0 stalemate against Bristol Central, followed by a 3-1 win over Bristol Eastern, and a 5-0 blowout victory over Platt.

After losing a combined 12 seniors over the past two seasons, it has been a pleasant surprise for Redcoat fans to see the girls start the new season so strong.

While the season is far from over, the 2-1-1 line to open the season has the girls in the thick of things in the CCC South.

Girls swimming

Head coach Jenn Atkins has been around Berlin swimming and diving for several years now.

After spending eight years with the boys’ team as the diving coach, Atkins is getting her chance to show her stuff at the helm of the girls team.

“The transition [from the boys’ to the girls’ team] has been very good,” said Atkins. “Some of the girls already knew who I was…so it wasn’t anything too crazy. The girls have been awesome; they’ve been very excited about it.”

The smooth transition is apparent.

The BHS girls headed into this week undefeated, having bested Holy Cross and Plainville.

Atkins and company understand that the competition will stiffen as the season continues, and they’re still working on trying to find the perfect fit for each individual Redcoat. Luckily, the coach has the luxury of a deep roster.

“If we can nail that first place finish [in an event], then have our third or fourth place swimmer get into those higher places, it’s more points that we hadn’t initially accounted for,” Atkins said.

“Girls like freshman Stephanie Humen and Arian Salis have been helping a lot with scoring those points.”

Atkins noted that Kelsey Kozikowski and Olivia DeGroff have led the way as top finishers.

Cross country

Both the BHS boys and girls cross country teams have had solid beginnings to the season.

At the 3rd Annual Connecticut River Valley Invitational, the BHS contingent had impressive times, yet the stiff competition made the teams’ achievements seem less impressive.

The boys finished seventh out of 10 teams with a 5K time of 18:15.18, just a minute off the pace of the event’s first place squad, E.O. Smith.

Likewise, the girls finished seventh out of eight teams with a time of 22:23.08.

The boys’ and girls’ top runners, James Dwyer (17:25.61) and Brittany Sullivan (20:59.20), finished 15th their respective races.



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