A good look at the future of the CCC Division II-West landscape will be on tap tonight as a pair of talented sophomore quarterbacks lead their teams to a divisional showdown at Falcon Field in Meriden.
Bristol Central’s Victor Rosa (3 TDs and 170 yards rushing a week ago) and Maloney’s Angel Arce (198 yards and 2 touchdowns last week) will be at the helm when the Rams and the Spartans clash for the 60th time in their history. Plenty of young talent will be on display as two of the division’s top teams battle for the early season advantage in the divisional race.
Both teams suffered heavy losses from graduation, but neither seemed much affected by the losses in their season opening wins last week. The Rams, with only four seniors on the rosters, rolled to a 27-6 win over E.O. Smith, led by a solid defensive effort.
The Spartans, with all conference quarterback Elliott Good and all conference receiver Victor Marquez gone via graduation, were still an offensive juggernaut in their 53-13 romp over Farmington a week ago.
“Maloney’s definitely going to be a challenge for us,” said coach Jeff Papazian. “They’re coming off a big win over Farmington. We know that they can score in bunches if we’re not careful. Our defense played very well last week against E.O. Smith but we know we’re going to be tested again this week and we have to be ready.”
While the Spartans lost some talented players from last year’s state finalist team, they return a solid running back in James Tarver who rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns last week. “Tarver’s a very good back that we are going to have to aware of,” said Papazian, “and the sophomore quarterback did a real nice job in the opener.”
Maloney lost some talented linemen from a year ago but have some big players up front that will challenge the Rams in the trenches. Central’s front line, led by two-way performer Dan Lauretti, had an outstanding game a week ago and will need to be even better this week. “I thought Lauretti played really well on both sides last week,” Papazian noted. “He played hard every down.”
Offensively, ball control will be a big goal for the Rams this week. Central kept the ball on the ground last week and a similar game plan should be in effect this week. With Rosa as the primary carrier and good support from Shawn Rodriguez and Galen Hickey in the backfield, the Rams were able to put together some good time consuming drives a week ago.
“Against an explosive offense like Maloney has, it will be important for us to establish our offense from the start and keep the ball away from them as much as possible,” said Papazian. “We want to control field position and control the clock. We don’t want to get into the position where we have a shootout at the end of the game.”
Maloney was 8-2 in the regular season last year, one of those losses a 29-22 defeat at the hands of Bristol Central. The Spartans made it all the way to the Class L state championship game a year ago and have some thoughts of making a return. This will be the 60th meeting between the two schools who have met every year but once since 1959. Maloney leads the all-time series 30-26-3.
“We’re going to have our hands full, “ Papazian said. “They’ll be waiting for us. But we’re excited to go over there and put our best foot forward and see what happens.”