NEWINGTON - Looks can sometimes be deceiving, as are scoreboards, like the one that read 41-0 at the end of Newington football’s home-opening victory against Amistad last week.
Despite that lopsided outcome, the Indians didn’t play particularly well, or anywhere close to it, in their Week 2-matchup against Farmington, Newington’s first official test of the season. The offense didn’t click, the defense didn’t dominate like it had hoped and special teams continued to have some problems.
That makes this upcoming week against Platt (2-0) one of particular importance, and not because its opponent is going to be bigger, stronger and faster than Farmington.
Newington (1-1) has to find its identity, and find it fast.
During the game on Friday, a 21-7 loss, Newington engineered a drive that was 14 plays over 92 yards to score its only touchdown of the game: a 33-yard passing touchdown from quarterback Nick Pestrichello to receiver Jordan Alexander with two minutes to spare in the third quarter. Other than that, the unit was stagnant.
“Part of my concern, our concerns as a program, was the way we came out in the second half, how we were able to stop them on defense, take the ball, drive it down the field [on our touchdown],” Newington coach Jason Pace said. “Then when [Farmington] had the ball back, it was third down and they scored on that [for a 71-yard touchdown].”
The score was 14-7 before Farmington’s score at that point and Newington needed to make a play on that third down but didn’t. Newington showed at times it was able play with Farmington. The team was able to move the ball and was able to stop Farmington on defense, but where was that the rest of the game? That’s what Newington needs to figure out.
“Where was that intensity [the rest of the game]?” Pace said. “I don't really know exactly why we were able to perform [on that one drive]. We need to figure it out and we need to make sure that’s what we get for four quarters.”
Newington knew from the gecko this was not going to be an easy game. But once on the field, the Indians suffered from too many mistakes and penalties.
“They really put it on us in the first half,” Newington receiver Izayah Ciarcia said. “We tried to make a comeback in the second half, but couldn’t. There was a lack of focus. People weren’t paying attention. [There was] bad communication between the line, the quarterback and the receivers.”
The only time the team didn’t make a mistake was during its lone scoring drive.
“It was when we communicated,” Ciarcia said. “We need to come together, especially when times get rough. We need to regroup, come together and focus so we can succeed on the field.”
Newington strong safety Keenan Esau said part of the reason for the struggles was the team came out flat, but Pace didn’t agree with that assessment.
“Coming out flat is the first two drives,” Pace said. “Flat for an entire half isn’t coming out flat, it’s - I don't really have the answers for that. We need to figure it out and figure it out fast.”
Pace was unsure if the team was in shock because for them it was the first time his new players were being tested in a competitive environment. In was the first time they faced an opponent that was equal, if not better, in certain positions.
“We preached the entire time, that this team was not Amistad,” Pace said. “This is an established program and we needed to be ready. You can’t just step on the field and think you’re going to have success. You have to earn it, you have work for it.”
“We’re trying to have our leaders step up in lead in these types of situations,” head coach continued. “We’re going to learn from our mistakes, we’re going to take that one drive, five minute period, whatever that was and that becomes who we are for the rest of the season.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org