BRISTOL - The Bristol Central football team rode a big play attack and a strong inside line performance to a convincing win at Platt last week. Tonight, the Rams (5-3) return home to take on winless East Catholic looking for another strong effort from the group that has carried them to three straight wins since the bye week.
"I thought we played real well up front across the board on both sides of the ball last week," Central head coach Jeff Papazian said. "Devon [Dawson] and [Adam] Ewart were really good out there. Devon had one of his better games all year and with Ewart right next to him on the offensive side they played a super tough and physical game."
With the front line opening big holes, Central was able to get two backs over the 100-yard rushing mark for the second game in a row. The Rams will be looking for a similar effort tonight.
Quarterback Dathan Hickey rushed for 208 yards and scored five touchdowns against a strong Platt team. He is 33 yards short of joining the 1,000 yard rushing club and hopes to reach that milestone in tonight's game.
Defensively, the Rams will be looking to duplicate the effort that helped contain Platt's star running back E.J. Dudley.
"Looking back at the films, we saw that we did a real good job of containing Dudley and keeping him to two or three yards," Papazian said. "To hold him to under three yards a carry is awesome against that kid."
While the Rams will not be facing a runner of the caliber of Platt's Dudley or Capital Prep quarterback Kyle Zajack this week, they will face the challenge of taking on a team in East Catholic that has shown steady improvement throughout the season as well as battling against a formation they have not yet seen this season.
The Eagles run a double-tight, double-wing offense that will be a new look for the Rams' defenders.
"They are atypical of any team we have seen this season," Papazian said, "and we have had a short week to get ready on top of it.
"At this point in the year we've had the opportunity to see all eight of their games on film and the one thing that stands out most in my mind is how much they have improved each week.”
While it is a different look for the Rams, it is a look that has also struggled to score this season. The Eagles have scored more than one touchdown only twice in eight games including last week's 54-12 loss at RHAM. If Central can come up with the kind of performance it had on the defensive side against Platt and Capital Prep, it could be a long night for the East Catholic attack.
Offensively, the Rams are hoping to join the long list of teams that have enjoyed success against a struggling East Catholic defense. The Eagles have played a tough schedule, having gone up against teams such as Berlin, Bloomfield and Rocky Hill, all of whom put up some pretty big numbers offensively. Overall, East Catholic has allowed 339 points, an average of better than 42 points a game.
It is the final home game of the season for the Rams who will close out against Bristol Eastern at Muzzy Field on Thanksgiving Day. Central remains in the hunt for a Class L playoff spot and wants to use tonight's game as a positive springboard going into the season finale.
But that is still a few weeks away and the focus tonight is East Catholic.
"We just have to come out and play hard right from the start," Papazian said, "and keep things rolling against East Catholic like we have the last three games."