The paths of the Berlin and Hillhouse football teams will have passed three times in the past six years. The two teams have been two of the most successful and consistent programs in the state for the last 10 years.
In 2006, Hillhouse beat Berlin in a close game in West Haven and then went on to win the Class M state championship over Windham, 28-6.
In 2010, the eighth-seeded Academics beat Berlin at Scalise Field 33-30 and went on to beat New London 7-0 to win the Class M title.
Saturday at 2:05, the teams will play again, this time for the biggest prize, the Class M state championship, at Rentschler Field.
In head coach John Capodice's eight years as head coach of Berlin High School, the Redcoats have qualified for the state playoffs in seven of those years. He led Berlin to two state championship games, losing 21-14 to Ledyard in 2007 and beating Bethel 46-6 in 2009.
Hillhouse has appeared in state championship games in 2002, beating Montville 29-6, 2005, losing to Daniel Hand 34-0, 2006, beating Windham 28-6 and 2010, beating New London 7-0.
The 2010 team had a physical and talented senior class and the wounds of that stunning defeat at the hands of Hillhouse still stings.
"It was just a shocking feeling after 48 minutes to have our season be done," said one of those seniors Mason Powers. "We had won the state championship the year before but we wanted another one. I really think our senior class was one of the most athletic classes to ever come out of Berlin High. It was heartbreaking. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to get away."
Powers said after the game the seniors went to one of their houses and just hung out. There were tears and not a lot of talking but it was still a bond they felt.
"The guys I keep in touch with the most are the guys from that football team and I don't think that will ever change," said Powers, now at Sacred Heart University.
He said he has been in contact with several of the players on the current team.
"Some of those guys were out on the field and they know what it feels like," said Powers, who will attend the Berlin practice Friday afternoon. "I just don't want them to have the same feeling our senior class had. They have a chance to make history. They can be the first team to win a state championship at Rentschler. I know how hard we worked. I know how hard Coach Cap has worked these guys. They deserve it."