BRISTOL - The Bristol Eastern football team finds itself in a familiar role as underdogs coming into today’s Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Bristol Central.
The Lancers haven’t beaten the Rams since 2014 and are hoping that changes today.
“We gotta change the tide,” Lancers wide receiver Jaden Laprise said. “Our seniors work hard and we want to help them out and get the bell back for them this season.”
While the 2-7 Lancers are aware of the Rams 6-3 record, none of that matters today.
“I don’t think about the records,” Bristol Eastern linebacker Trinidad Gonzalez said. “It’s a rivalry game so I whoever comes ready to play and wants it more is going to come out with a better outcome.”
Bristol Central has a high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Dathan Hickey.
Primarily a running quarterback, Hickey has accumulated 1,069 yards rushing this season and has scored 26 touchdowns on the ground.
Gonzalez will need to be on top of his game for the Lancers defense. His 73 total tackles lead the team.
Though, when forced to throw the football, Hickey hasn’t been nearly as successful.
He is 36-for-94 passing with 485 yards and three touchdowns with eight interceptions.
Forcing him to throw is something that the Lancers need to do.
“Dathan is probably the biggest threat on that team,” Lancers senior linebacker Tyler Mason said. “He’s a good runner and he has some speed so we need to keep him contained and that’ll give us a good outcome.”
While Hickey is the leading rusher for Bristol Central, tailback Darrell Payton is also a threat that the Lancers need to be ready for as he comes into the game with 91 carries for 630 yards and six touchdowns.
“The run is the most integral part of their offense I believe,” Mason said. “Regardless we’re going to have to stop whatever comes at us.”
For the Lancers, maintaining the same quality of football throughout an entire game has been an issue at times during the season.
With the atmosphere of this game unlike any other this season, staying focused is even more important.
“It’s definitely a game with a lot of emotion,” Julius said. “And like I told the kids it’s like riding a roller coaster. You gotta be able to deal with the ups and downs of the game and never get too high or too low and for our guys it’s the final opportunity for a lot of these guys to go out there and play and showcase what their abilities are and all of the work that they’ve put in this season.”
Getting the bell back with a win has been the goal all season long and this morning Bristol Eastern has its chance to do just that.
“That is a huge part of my senior year and part of my life,” Mason said. “I know a lot of alumni who have lost and a lot of alumni who have won and it always sticks with them it’s a lifetime thing. You see the difference in the alumni who’ve won and the alumni who have lost.”
A win today would be a step in the right direction for the program and would be a three-game improvement on last year.
“You can learn a lot from losing but everybody always says that winning cures all,” Julius said. “For us to have the opportunity to come out on the right side of things [today] would be huge for our program going forward and I know it’s something that the kids desperately want and hopefully we can go out and earn it.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @OrencoleDan