The Newbury Black Knights and the Berkshire Badgers will always remember their Week 9 matchup, a cold and muddy running affair.
The Newbury Black Knights and the Berkshire Badgers will always remember their Week 9 matchup, a cold and muddy running affair. The fans and band and cheerleaders will remember it, too.
“I?can’t tell who has the ball,” said one photographer.
“It’s hard to see what’s happening,” said a parent.
Between the pace of the game, the conditions on the field and the dim lighting at Newbury’s field, located just behind the brick high school, it was a scene from an NFL Films broadcast. Something like Norm Van Brocklin’s Vikings versus Paul?Brown’s Cleveland Browns, when teams had nothing on their helmets (these teams do not) and a game breaks on one key play — or key mistake, as was the case in the Badgers’ 28-0 win.
But the game was closer than its score.
The Badgers, who are 4-5 heading into their final week, led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter on a Gordy Cossick 1-yard TD run.
Starters Ben Blechshmid and Kyle Storm were expected to play, but coach Josh?DeWeese held both back for another week of rest before their Week 10 matchup against rival Cardinal.
With the score 6-0 at halftime, DeWeese and his coaching staff were not happy.
“I’m glad we woke up at halftime,” DeWeese said after the game. “We wanted to come out and get the momentum going in the second half.”
Berkshire decided to use onside kicks to get some of that momentum going. On a snow-covered field, the kicks hit and stopped by the sidelines, allowing a big recovery.
Cossick connected with receiver Keanu Martin on an important 10-yard TD?in the third quarter. Martin, the ball and the defender arrived at the same time. Yet somehow Martin held onto the ball.
“I just hung on for my life, honestly,” Martin said. “My hands were freezing — I just hung on for my life, that’s basically what I did.”
Martin said he and sophomore QB Cossick have developed a bond this season, connecting 14 times for 188 yards and three TD’s.
“We know what we do together, and we know how to work each other,” Martin said. “He knows how I run, I?know how he throws, and that’s basically what it is.”
Cody Charvat, who finished with 155 yards on 21 carries, had a 7-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Martin had a 1-yard TD to complete the night.
Berkshire had 255 total yards to the Black Knights’ 170.
“Honestly, it was probably the funnest game I have ever played in my life,”?Martin said. “It was an awesome time. My feet are freezing, but other than that I’m perfectly fine. It was a blast out there.”
Mason Ulatowski is a junior right guard who said the key to getting footing on the sloppy field was keeping your cleats in the ground.
“You gotta drive and use your arms mostly or you’ll slide everywhere,”?Ulatowski said, sniffling, as some of his teammates did head-first slides on the field after the game. “No matter what, you’re going to be slipping and sliding. You just hold your block and drive it as far as you can — and hope for the best.”
The Black Knights, like they have all season, struggled to score despite multiple opportunities in the red zone.
If you exclude the Newbury win against Ashtabula St. John, a non-sanctioned club team, the Black Knights have scored just six TD’s in eight games.
It’s a point of frustration for third-year head coach Randy Perrotti.
“Football is all about the 18-inch leap of faith from here to here,” said Perrotti, pointing from his head to his heart, sitting dejected in a coaches locker room. “That’s all it is.”
Perrotti coaches a team with 20 uniformed players but only about 17 that are able to take the field. Newbury, a Div. VII school, always battles number issues, but this season has been worse than others.
“We were trying to spread the ball out and that didn’t work,” he said. “I just wanted to run the ball down their throat. And we did. We were having success moving the football.”
“It’s just, when we get inside the 20-yard line we just apart because it’s youth,” he continued. “It’s inexperience, it’s lack of weight training. If you don’t train and condition yourself, you just can’t punch it into the endzone because you exert all of your energy getting there, and then you start snorting, start biting down on your mouth guard because that’s what the other team is doing. They don’t want you to score, so they dig their heels in, and it’s just who wants it more.”
Lineman Nate Pradonovich sat in the Newbury locker room, pads still on, and said the cold got him “jacked up” for the contest.
“Holding onto the ball is a big thing for us,” he said, “and especially in those conditions it’s tough.”
Newbury fumbled the ball in the third quarter at a crucial time, a mistake that gave Berkshire going forward.
“We definitely could be in better shape as a team, but the bottom line is we get tired and that’s what killed us,” Pradonovich said.
“That was probably one of the coldest games I’ve ever played,” said QB Jim Levesque. “And I was not expecting snow this week, not four inches. But we played through.”
Levesque said Newbury, typically a shotgun team on offense, had to go under center because of the slippery conditions.
Both seniors agreed that a Week 10 matchup would be a chance to get one more win before this difficult season is over. The Skippers are 0-9 this season.
“I would love nothing more than to go out with a bang,” Pradonovich said.
“They have a numbers problem like us,” coach Perrotti said. “They graduated a lot of seniors like we did. It’ll be a very evenly matched game, which I thought this one was going to be, evenly matched.
“It was in the first quarter.”
The?Berkshire vs. Cardinal game, the 60th installment of this rivalry, will be taped on G-TV.
For more photos of the Newbury vs. Berkshire game, visit bit.ly/leafphotos.
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