Bristol Central will face its second big test of the season Friday night when the Rams host Wethersfield in a non-league game. The Eagles bring a 2-0 record into the contest after their 21-18 nail biter over Berlin last week and bring a big and speedy defense to challenge a Central offense that was impressive in last week’s 27-0 whitewashing of South Windsor.
Wethersfield has been consistent offensively in its two wins, putting up 20 points in the opener against Platt and adding 21 last week. “They are a pretty polished offensive team,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. “They’ve shown pretty good balance between the run and throwing the ball. They have good athleticism and pretty good size up front.”
The Rams have already faced a team with good athleticism and size when they took on Bloomfield in the opener. Despite the loss in that one, the defensive unit came up big to hold the Warhawks to just seven points.
“We’re coming off two really good performances by the defense,” said Papazian. “Our strength is clearly in the secondary but our linebacking crew has been coming on strong as well. Dan Lauretti is strong in the middle and Ashton Zabka and Justin Despins are starting to come around, too. We are looking for another big night from the defense.”
Zabka had a fumble recovery and an interception in last week’s win as the Rams forced three turnovers.
Offensively, the Rams struggled against a big Bloomfield front line in the opener, but showed much more success in last week’s win. Papazian was especially happy that they were able to mix in a number of running backs in the attack.
“The more we can diversify our offense and take some of the pressure off of Victor [Rosa] the better we’ll be in the long run,” he said. “Tre Blair and Damion Glasper showed the ability to do that last week. Victor will continue to be the main force in the attack, but all of those small contributions by other payers really add up.”
Rosa rushed for 229 yards and threw for 77 more in last week’s win, but the Rams also had five other players who had the opportunity to carry the ball for an additional 55 yards in offense. Blair had 23 including a big 20-yard scamper to pull the Rams out of a deep hole late in the game. Glasper rushed for 19 and caught four passes for an additional 61 plus a touchdown.
The Wethersfield defense, like the Rams, has a shutout win to its credit and stood up under some late charges by the Redcoats a week ago. “What stands out for Wethersfield defensively is their speed,” said Papazian. “They really fly around and are able to get to the ball very quick.”
Wethersfield and Central were rivals in the old CCC Division II for the last decade before realignment put the Rams into Tier 3. Wethersfield leads the all-time series between the schools 13-8, but nine of those wins came during the years when the schools were part of the CCIL in the 1960’s. Since coming back together as members of the CCC, the teams are 4-4. Wethersfield won the last meeting by a score of 33-8 in 2019. The Eagles finished the regular season 8-2 and lost to New Canaan in the Class L quarterfinals that year.
“It’s going to be a big test for us this week against one of the better teams in the area,” Papazian added. “We know that they will be charged up for us and we have to be able to answer the call and match their intensity early.”