NEWINGTON - Although the schedule has not gotten any easier for the Newington football team, it has seen improvement through the last few weeks.
“It’s a tough stretch, it really is,” Newington head coach Jason Pace said. “It’s one of the toughest stretches I’ve been a part of as a head coach. You have your tough opponents but not really three in a row.”
The Indians hope to continue that growth tonight against East Hartford (6-2) at East Hartford High School for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Hornets have just come off back-to-back losses against Southington (42-27) and New Britain (63-26).
And although Newington is on a three-game losing streak, it has made strides forward.
“I’m not going to lie,” Newington captain Noah Carrasco said. “When we went and played Middletown, they were a good team and we played scared. They were bigger than us, faster than us, they wanted it more than us, so we were scared and we didn’t know how to respond. But then we came out last week against Maloney, we thought we had a chance. We just wanted it. We still lost, but we put some points up on the board and I thought we fought hard.”
The Indians will have to continue to fight and play hard. The Hornets come in with an explosive offense due to a number of playmakers.
“This week we really had to focus on how to keep their big plays to a minimum,” Pace said. “You watch them on film and they’re very impressive on how fast they can score. They have a lot of weapons, which starts with their quarterback. He’s one of the better players I’ve seen all year. He can throw, run, pretty much do anything they need him to.”
Raquan Tompkins, the Hornets’ quarterback, completed nine of his 25 passes for 131 yards and one interception last week, while leading his team in rushing after collecting 177 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns.
“We saw what kind of athlete he was last year,” Pace said. “And he only got better, bigger, stronger, faster. So we know defensively we have to make sure we contain him. I don’t know if it’s realistic to say we’ll fully shut him down, because he’s just that good of a player and their offense is just that effective, but at the same time we have to make sure that we swarm and attack the ball.”
Then there’s Tompkins’ favorite target in Jaquan Allen. The two have put up some gaudy numbers this season and connected on six passes last week, with Allen finishing with 55 yards.
Perhaps a forgotten component of East Hartford’s offense at times is running back David Ortiz, who has replaced Kevon Jones, who is now starting at linebacker for UConn and was responsible for doing the most damage against New Britain last season.
“They’re big and athletic, but they’re still beatable,” Newington’s Teddy Fravel said. “They’ve lost before, so we can definitely give a go at it. That negative momentum that they have right now after losing two games should be a positive for us. We have to give it everything we can to scrape out a win.”