NEWINGTON - The Newington football team knew the end of the season was going to be difficult, especially facing perennial powerhouses such as No. 12 Middletown, Maloney, No. 10 East Hartford and Wethersfield.
Last Friday against the Blue Dragons, Newington head coach Jason Pace made it very clear that if his team played scared or intimidated, they would not have success.
Newington was shut out 42-0 against Middletown.
“We didn’t play well,” Pace said. “At this point if feels like when it comes to good quality teams, it seems like we get in this mindset where we can’t compete and we come out and that’s the way we perform.”
“We’re much better than what we showed last Friday night,” he continued. “Our next two opponents are some of the best teams in the state, leaders in their class, playoff-type teams. We have to be able to show no matter how big or strong or fast or good they are, we have to go out and play Newington football. We have to play with an attitude and show what we’re able to do.”
Aside from its poor play, the Indians were without starting quarterback Nick Pestrichello due to a concussion from a game against Bristol Central in Week 7. Healthy and ready to go, the sophomore will take the field with his team tonight.
“I missed it so much and I’m glad to be back,” Pestrichello said. “We learned last week that we can’t just go in there thinking it’s not going to be a good game. Knowing that I was out, we still had to play with our all. There will always be a chance where anything could happen. We have to just play.”
Hopefully the Indians have learned from their mistakes, because Maloney is the next team on the list. Newington will travel to Falcon Field in Meriden for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The Spartans have a 6-1 record, with their only blemish being a 29-22 loss to Bristol Central, a team the Indians hung with until the very end.
“We know that they’re a good team and their record doesn’t lie,” Pestrichello said. “We also know they have a weakness and we can go off of that. It’s definitely a winnable game if we give it our all and come out with everything we have. “
Maloney has a number of key players to rely on, including senior signal caller Elliot Good. Throughout the season he has connected with wide receivers Victor Marquez and Maurice Brackett for a majority of the team’s scores.
During the Spartans’ most recent 51-16 win over Farmington, Good tied a program record with five touchdown passes, four of them to Marquez, while the defense forced six turnovers.
“We thought Middletown was big, [but] Maloney has more size than Middletown, especially up front,” Pace said. “Last week they were up 51-0 against Farmington at the half. That’s impressive. A team that is able to score 51 points in a half, you know that you’re talking about a very high-powered offense.”
Despite the records, Newington believes if it comes out firing, it will be able to play a close game with the Spartans.
“We have to come out and match the intensity,” Newington kicker Gunnar Johnson said. “We can’t come in expecting a result. We have to come in and make our own result.”
But it is one thing to say it and another to do it. The Indians have now suffered two shutout losses on their season record, against Platt and Middletown, and Pace does not want it to happen again.
“The energy level has to be there. Also we need to come out and just believe,” Pace said. “Believe in our ability, believe in one another, believe that no matter what happens, we’re going to be there and we’re going to fight to the end. This is something that has to happen, as a team, as program, to advance and take that step to the next level. We have to have more fight. We have to be relentless, all the time.”