The Redcoats (Berlin) are coming to Valley Regional/Old Lyme

Valley Regional/Old Lyme's Dan Stecher (4) has rushed for 1,097 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular-season for the Warriors, who welcome eighth-seeded Berlin to Deep River on Tuesday night for a CIAC Class M football playoff quarterfinal game at 6:30. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Valley Regional/Old Lyme's Dan Stecher (4) has rushed for 1,097 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular-season for the Warriors, who welcome eighth-seeded Berlin to Deep River on Tuesday night for a CIAC Class M football playoff quarterfinal game at 6:30. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Deep River — Tim King, head coach of the Valley Regional/Old Lyme football team, stood in the crowd at Berlin during its Nov. 18 game against New Britain.

It didn’t take King long to be wowed by Berlin and got him wondering about how the Redcoats and his Warriors would match up should they meet in the CIAC Class M playoffs.

It’s come to pass that the Redcoats are coming to Deep River. Eighth-seeded Berlin plays at top-seeded Valley/Old Lyme in Tuesday’s Class M quarterfinals at 6:30 p.m.

“They’re a tough team,” King said. “They’ve got some speed. The quarterback (Jack Hamel) is legit. You don’t want him to get to the outside. You better contain him. They’ve got some good receivers. (Larry St. Pierre Jr.), the freshman, he’s a heck of a player for them.

“They give you multiple looks from the double wing to the spread to one wing. It takes time to scout them and break them down and all of that. It’s tough. It’s going to be a tough game.”

The Warriors are 9-1. Berlin is 8-2.

“We’ve played some big teams like Tolland and New Britain which have really excellent athletes,” Berlin head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. “(Valley/Old Lyme) is a combination of them. They don’t have a lot of size, but they have a lot of athletes.”

The Redcoats ran out of the double wing more than usual the night that King scouted them against New Britain (which they won in overtime, 28-25). Aresimowicz said they’ve played more out of a spread set, but that the players are most familiar with the double wing as it’s the offense used by Berlin’s youth teams.

“Falling back into that, that’s just like going back home again,” Aresimowicz said.

The Redcoats have run over 75 percent of the time with a number of players getting carries. Hamel leads the team in carries (110) and yards (641) with eight touchdowns. Alex Halkias has rushed 72 times for 575 yards and nine touchdowns. St. Pierre has 76 carries for 442 yards and seven touchdowns.

It just so happens that the Warriors' last two games were against double wing teams, Canton (a 41-0 win) and Haddam-Killingworth (a 31-0 win).

“At least they’ve (the defense) had a good look at it,” King said. “Now the athletic portion of it is a big difference. A huge difference. So that’s going to be the challenge, and how do you duplicate that with our younger kids giving us a look (on scout team at practice)?

“At least mentally, we’ve seen what they can do and how they do it, and then it’s up to our kids to produce.”

Hamel has completed 46 percent of his passes for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns with seven interceptions.

“We have a good secondary,” Valley/Old Lyme senior receiver-safety Garrett Burdick said. “I think that’s our strongest suit right there. Our defensive line, they get into the mix, too. They give the quarterback a hard time, so they're rushing him, and I’ve got to give them credit for my picks (10 this season) because without them, no rush, (the quarterback) can just sit in the pocket all game.”

Valley/OL senior Matt Sapere has completed 51.8 percent of his passes for 1,482 yards with 21 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s also run 71 times for 451 yards and seven touchdowns.

Senior Dan Stecher has rushed 117 times for 1,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. Burdick is the Warriors’ leading receiver (34 catches, 600 yards, 11 touchdowns).

“It comes down to their athletes versus our athletes,” King said. “Hey, we’ve got some pretty good athletes, too. Burdick, Matt is a heck of an athlete. Dan Stecher is pretty good. He’s not a bad running back to have. (Sophomore) Jason O’Brien and (junior) Ernest Jean-Pierre.

“We’re not big. We’re going to come at you using our speed and go at it.”

n.griffen@theday.com

WHEN BERLIN HAS THE BALL

Berlin Offense

17     QB   Jack Hamel    Sr.

6      RB   Mitch Maslowski    Sr.

10 RB Larry St. Pierre Jr. Fr.

44   FB   Zach Hrubiec Fr.

5 TE Dan Labbadia Sr.

7      TE    Malachi Burby       Jr.

59    T      Cole Wendehack  Sr.

54    G     Marc D'Amore       Sr.

72    C      Mike Paszczuk       So.

58    G     Greg Carson  Jr.

50   T      Nick Lojko      Sr.

Valley/Old Lyme Defense

50   DE   Cody Stalls    Sr.

68 NG Charlie Littler Sr.

52    DE   Mitch Conard Sr.

41    OLB Ian Humphreys      Sr.

4      ILB  Dan Stecher   Sr.

47    ILB  Roan Sullivan Jr.

13     OLB Mike Cullina   Jr.

1       CB   Jacob Kruszewski Jr.

5      CB   Jason O'Brien        So.

3      S      Garrett Burdick     Sr.

6      S      Ernest Jean-Pierre       Jr.

 

WHEN VALLEY/OLD LYME HAS THE BALL

Valley/Old Lyme Offense

7      QB   Matt Sapere   Sr.

4      RB   Dan Stecher   Sr.

3      WR  Garrett Burdick     Sr.

5      WR  Jason O'Brien        So.

6      WR  Ernest Jean-Pierre       Jr.

11     WR  Ryan Santos  So.

50   T      Cody Stalls    Sr.

52    G     Mitch Conard Sr.

77    C      Ian Neviaser   Jr.

68    G     Charlie Littler        Sr.

70    T      Jeremy LaCasse    Sr.

Berlin Defense

7      DE   Malachi Burby       Jr.

50   DT   Nick Lojko      Sr.

75    NG   Jeff Moss        Sr.

44   DT   Zach Hrubiec Fr.

88    DE   Matt Stapell   Sr.

5      LB   Dan Labbadia        Sr.

57    LB   Kevin Stafstrom    Jr.

10    CB   Larry St. Pierre Jr. Fr.

17     CB   Jack Hamel    Sr.

6      S      Mitch Maslowski    Sr.

34    S      Alex Halkias   So.

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