BRISTOL - Bristol Central opens its home football schedule tonight with a lot of room for improvement after last week’s tough 7-6 loss at Bloomfield. The Rams will host South Windsor in a 6 pm start.
The Bobcats are also coming into the game off a narrow loss after falling to Plainville by a 27-25 score in their opener last week.
“They kind of went back and forth with Plainville last week,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. ”We saw multiple looks from them so we’ll have to be ready for whatever they throw at us.”
The Rams were the victims of numerous mental and physical mistakes in their loss at Bloomfield. Nine penalties thwarted any kind of offensive consistency and problems with snaps from center and blocking up front made it difficult for the guys in the backfield to get momentum.
After a productive first quarter in which Victor Rosa scored his team’s only touchdown on a 53-yard run, the Rams managed only 25 yards in offense over the final three periods. They were tackled for loss on six of the ten running plays that they ran in the second half. The Warhawks defensive front was able to wear down the Central front line as the game wore on last week and the Rams will need a much more consistent effort this week.
“We obviously have a lot of work to do,” said Papazian, “We have to play a much cleaner game and give our skill guys a chance to do their thing. We definitely have to produce more than we did offensively. A lot of that is on me. I have to work to get our guys in a spot where they can succeed.”
Central fans can expect to see some personnel changes on the front line as the Rams work to iron out the kinks in the offense.
Rosa led the attack with 99 rushing yards on 21 carries and threw for 52 more yards. He was four of nine passing with the biggest play a 25-yard toss to Damion Glasper to keep a late drive alive.
Defensively, Central played a strong bend but don’t break game against a potent Bloomfield attack.
“Like I said last week, I’ll take a defense that only gives up seven points any time. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is,” said Papazian. “But even with that there is a lot we can go back and look at from last week and work to get better.”
One of the highlights for the Rams on the defensive side was the play of the defensive secondary.
Both Zach Vanasse and Tre Blair came up with big break up plays in the endzone as the Rams limited the Bloomfield passing attack to less than 100 yards and a 40 percent completion effort.
“I thought the secondary played real well last week,” said Papazian. “Zach Vanasse and Tre Blair each got tested in a corner of the end zone and they held. Those guys are real good athletes and with Victor and Glasper back there, we’ve got a group that should be able to hang with anybody and they showed it last week against some pretty good athletes.”
Central last faced South Windsor in 2016. The Bobcats have been playing in the CCC Division I since then, but were moved to Tier 3 in the realignment last spring.
The Rams have won eight of the 13 games played against them in a series that started in 2000 but lost a tough 20-14 decision in the last meeting five years ago.
The Bobcats have struggled in recent years and are coming off a 3-7 season when they last played in 2019. But they have been to the state semifinals as recently as 2017 and will be a force to be reckoned with tonight.
“Dave Hodge is a very good coach,” said Papazian, “and I know he will have his guys ready to play on Friday.”