BRISTOL - The Bristol Central football team takes a step into the unknown tonight, as they take on an opponent they have never met before on the gridiron.
The Rams will host Capital Prep/Achievement First in their homecoming game at the BCHS turf field.
Capital Prep plays an unaffiliated league schedule and has battled a variety of opponents this year ranging from Class LL schools Danbury and Westhill and Class S Griswold in Connecticut as well as out of state private schools from as far away as Toronto, Canada.
The Trailblazers are 3-3 overall, but 3-1 against in-state opponents. Their lone state loss came at the hands of Westhill by a 45-27 score. They lost last week to Toronto Prep 27-19 and were beaten by Hun Academy of New Jersey by a 61-28 margin earlier this season.
The magnet school, a Class S school in the Connecticut Playoff rankings, features three potential Division I players in a potent offense that has put up 200 points in the six games this season. “They are a super athletic team,” Central coach Jeff Papazian said, “with excellent overall team speed.”
Capital Prep is led by running back Khyon Gillespie, who has committed to UConn, and receiver Oneil Robinson, a 6-foot-3 senior, who has also committed to the Huskies. The attack is led by quarterback Kyle Zajack
“Obviously those three kids on the offense are the ones that we have to be aware of and account for at all times,” Papazian said. “Up front they are very big and very physical on both sides of the ball. It is going to be a very big challenge for us.”
Central comes into tonight’s contest with a 3-3 overall record after pulling out an exciting 20-17 win over Newington last week. The Rams are playing outside of the CCC for the first time since taking on Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in 2005.
Central had a very solid defensive effort in their big win over Newington last week. Led by Ryan Rodriguez, Isak Gonzalez and Frankie Jenkins on the corners and freshmen linebacker Jakob Salinas, the Rams held the Indians to just 15 yards in rushing offense with 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The defense will need to come up big again tonight.
Offensively, the Rams were once again led by Dathan Hickey who rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Central will be looking for another big night from Hickey but will also look to running back Darrell Payton and receivers Justus Fitzpatrick, Nate Rosa and Nigel West against a Longhorn defense that has been prone to giving up some big points, especially in the games they have lost. In their three losses the Trailblazers have allowed an average of over 44 points per game.
If the Rams can play another solid defensive game and control the ball, they should have the opportunity to put up some points.
“I think the big thing for us will be to minimize the big plays defensively,” Papazian said. “When we’ve been able to do that this season we’ve been pretty successful. But if we don’t do that against a team like this, things can get out of control pretty quickly.”
“We have to try to control the tempo,” Papazian added. “A lot of that falls on the offensive line and they are going to need to come up big. We need to be able to sustain drives and keep the offense on the field and we have to limit our penalties.”
The Rams were flagged for some big penalties late in last week’s game which caused the game to be much more of a nail biter than it should have been.
“Like every week, we have to play great against a great opponent if we want to have the opportunity to win,” Papazian said. “We’ve had another great week of practice and I think we’re ready. It will be a big challenge for us this week, but we are looking forward to it.”