NEWINGTON - After two tough losses over the past two weeks, the Newington football team isnâ€™t focused on the past.
For head coach Jason Pace and his staff, making sure the team finishes games has been the message this week and will be going forwards.
â€śIn all four games we were leading at halftime,â€ť Pace said. â€śWe got to come out better in the second half and really focus. Sometimes we lose focus and doing that you canâ€™t have success in the second half.â€ť
Tonight, it doesnâ€™t get any easier as the Indians are hosting undefeated and 17th-ranked South Windsor.
The Bobcats are averaging 32.8 points per game and has outscored its opponents 180-29 this season. Newingtonâ€™s defense has given up 19.8 points per game and has shown promise but will be up against its biggest test this season against running backs Julian Ibes and Ronnie Pinkard.
But the Indians offense will also have to come through. After putting up 68 points in the first two games, the unit has struggled in the past two weeks against Platt and Bristol Eastern with just 21 combined points.
Newington will be challenged with the South Windsor defense playing four guys in the box that are all tough players. Seeing just four guys in the box is rare and it takes four talented players to do so, which South Windsor has.
â€śTheir line is probably the biggest that weâ€™ve seen so far,â€ť Newington lineman Damon Stewart said. â€śSo itâ€™s just a matter of us keeping our focus and keeping our endurance against one of the most dominant lines weâ€™ve seen far.â€ť
With so many players in space, Indians quarterback Robert Sanchez will be faced with the tough task of throwing the ball. But the senior signal called believed the Bobcats defense will allow him to attack the middle of the field with short passes.
Newingtonâ€™s goal, however, will be to run the football with Aveontae Frazier to open up the passing game downfield.
â€śWith only four guys in the box, you should be able to have some success in the run game,â€ť Pace said. â€śBut theyâ€™re so sound and physical up front that it does present some issues and concerns that we have in being able to attack that front.â€ť
If the Indians can establish a ground game, Newington hopes to make some big plays that were missing in the loss last week to Bristol Eastern.
â€śTheir secondary has good technique but theyâ€™re average guys,â€ť Indians wide receiver Luke Pappalardo said. â€śSo we can take advantage of that since we got stars and talented kids that can make plays.â€ť
For Newington, this game could be a program changer and provide the team with some confidence heading into its bye week.
â€śItâ€™s like last year when we beat Middletown,â€ť Sanchez said. â€śIt boosts your confidence and makes you feel that you are a good team and can get the job done.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan