BRISTOL - The Bristol Central football team opened its new turf field last week with a big crowd, an exciting atmosphere and a disappointing loss.
Tonight, the Rams begin defense of their CCC Division II-West championship against Wethersfield on the new field with hopes for a much better outcome.
Wethersfield comes in with an atypical 0-2 record that is a big change for a team that has hovered near the top of the CCC standings for the last several years, but Central coach Jeff Papazian and his squad will not be looking past the winless Eagles.
“[Wethersfield] is always a well-coached team and we know we have to be ready for whatever they throw at us,” Papazian said. “I expect them to throw a hundred different formations at us on offense and they’re going to give us many different looks on defense.”
Last week, the Rams held their own against a highly regarded Windsor team for a good part of the game but had some key breakdowns that led to big plays and an eventual win for the Warriors. While there were a fair amount of positives to be taken from the effort against Windsor, Bristol Central was not happy with the overall outcome.
“We’re past the point of moral victories,” Papazian said. “We didn’t get the job done.”
A key for Central tonight will be to avoid those mistakes on both sides of the ball.
“We felt we had the opportunity to win that game,” Papazian said. “We had some major breakdowns at critical points and you can’t do that against any team, let alone a quality opponent like Windsor.”
The Rams appear to have put the loss to Windsor behind them and have focused on the Eagles this week.
“I think the kids have responded well,” Papazian said. “I hope the sting of last week stays with them and they show up [tonight] with a little bit of an attitude and chip on their shoulder and get the job done.”
Central was able to move the ball pretty well last week and will be looking to improve that performance against the Eagles. Dathan Hickey, who has two hundred-yard rushing games under his belt so far this season will remain at quarterback and is the biggest offensive threat for the Rams, but the passing game will have to step up tonight.
Central completed only two of 16 pass attempts last week. The Rams had much better success through the air in the opening win over Hartford Public and will be looking to regain that touch tonight.
But with another week comes a new opportunity. Last week’s debut on the new turf was a big success and the Rams are hoping to build on that with a win tonight.
“I’ve seen my fair share of games here and that one was kind of special,” Papazian said. “I love playing at Muzzy as much as the next guy, but I thought the students and the fans and the whole atmosphere on campus last week was really something. We had a real good turnout of students. I hope the students continue to embrace us and show up in big numbers for tonight’s game.”
There will also be a flag raising ceremony and dedication of the new flagpole prior to the game at 5:45 p.m. The new flag has been donated by veteran Al Cianchetti.