MERIDEN –- Third-seeded Maloney’s quarterback-wide receiver tandem of Angel Arce and Kamron Moreno proved too much for No. 6 seed Berlin in a CIAC Class L quarterfinal at Falcon Field Wednesday night.
Arce threw four touchdown passes to Moreno as the Spartans (10-1) coasted to a 35-7 victory over the Redcoats.
Maloney, ranked 10th in the most recent GameTimeCT football top 10 poll, advances to face 2nd-seeded and top-ranked Hand in a Class L semifinal matchup Monday night in Madison. It’s a rematch of last year’s Class L final, won by Hand, 54-14.
— Erik Dobratz (@Erikd25) December 5, 2019
The Arce-to-Moreno show started early Wednesday night.
After Maloney place kicker Jaden Myles recovered an onside kick to start the game, Arce found Moreno in the end zone on 3rd-and-10 from the Redcoat 14-yard line to finish the drive.
Myles’ first of five PATs made it 7-0, Maloney.
Berlin answered on its opening drive, going 60 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 20-yard Justin Skates-to-Joseph Caracoglia touchdown pass on 4th-and-16.
The PAT tied the score, 7-7.
— Tom O'Reilly (@oemtom) December 5, 2019
After trading punts, Maloney took over at its own 9-yard line.
Spartan running back James Tarver ripped off an 82-yard run to the Berlin 9, setting up an 8-yard Arce-to-Moreno touchdown pass three plays later, and a 14-7 Maloney advantage.
Berlin was knocking on the door in an attempt to tie the game late in the first half, facing a 2nd-and-goal at the Spartan 2.
A chop block penalty brought the ball back to the 15, leading the Redcoats to try a reverse.
But the timing was off on the play and the second pitch was fumbled, with Maloney’s Kody Talento recovering with 1:48 left in the half.
That was enough time for the Spartans to drive 80 yards, with Arce hitting a wide-open Moreno for the duo’s third touchdown connection of the half, and a 21-7 Maloney halftime lead.
— Tom O'Reilly (@oemtom) December 5, 2019
The Spartans added a couple of insurance scores in the third quarter, with Tarver scoring from 34 yards out, and Arce and Moreno hooking up one final time from 11 yards out for the final margin of 35-7.
“We thought that going into the game, we were going to have some advantage in the pass game,” said Maloney coach Kevin Frederick. “I love our skill guys, Angel throws the ball great, and [Moreno] made plays. Four touchdowns says a ton about him. He’s got great speed down the field.”
Frederick was also pleased with a defense that, after spotting Berlin an early touchdown, bent but never broke again.
“Berlin’s a good team. They’ve been in the playoffs for many years. It’s a historic program,” said Frederick. “I thought we did a good job shutting them down.”
On the other side, the Redcoats had their chances to put more points on the scoreboard throughout the night, driving into Maloney territory on all four first half possessions, and getting down to the Spartan 5-yard line twice in the second half.
But after their opening touchdown drive, the Redcoats never made it to the end zone again.
Still, Berlin coach Joe Aresimowicz couldn’t have been prouder of a team that struggled with injuries throughout the year yet managed to make it back to the CIAC playoffs for a fourth straight season.
“This was absolutely my favorite year coaching, with these kids and coaches,” said Aresimowicz, whose team finished the year with an 8-3 mark despite a plethora of early-season injuries to key players.
The only downside of Wednesday night’s game for Maloney was an apparent ankle injury to Tarver (15 carries, 169 yards, 1 TD) the team’s workhorse back, late in the third quarter.
Frederick said after the game that Tarver would be evaluated Thursday morning.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Angel Arce and Kamron Moreno, Maloney: Moreno, a senior, caught 8 passes from Arce for 126 yards and 4 touchdowns, the second game this season the duo combined for four touchdown passes. Arce, a sophomore, finished the night 14-of-24 for 189 yards and the 4 touchdown passes.
“I think the key is, don’t listen to the media, because they’ll write you off. They don’t believe you can go back-to-back to the state semifinals. But these guys right here in the green-and-white, we all believe. We knew we had a good team coming into the year. We stuck to what we do best, and that’s practice really well, and yeah, we’re back to the state semis, and excited for that for sure.” – Maloney coach Kevin Frederick on his team getting back to the Class L semifinals despite losing a lot of players from last year’s Class L runner-up team.