Adjustments key in Bristol Central win

Published on Monday, 27 September 2021 21:13
Written by DAVID GREENLEAF

@SportsInCT

BRISTOL - With a big win under the belts after last week’s 28-18 decision over Wethersfield, the Bristol Central football team remains a work in progress as it moves into the heart of its CCC Schedule over the next few weeks. With last minute personnel changes and a few shifts in strategy, the Rams improved on the fly in last week’s win and look to build on that in the weeks to come.

Some last minute changes in the lineup proved to be very effective for the Rams in the win. It was the second week in a row that coach Jeff Papazian had to make game day changes and once again the players came through. This week it was changes on the line and in the linebacking crew. Papazian moved Mike Thaxter to guard and inserted Dan Lauretti into the offensive tackle position. The result was another big yardage game for the Central offense.

“Lauretti moved into that spot without any practice and without any looks during the week and he played a heck of a game there,” said Papazian. “Thaxter moved over to guard and also made a big contribution.”

The Rams ran up 339 yards on the ground and 387 in total offense against a Wethersfield team that had been very stingy prior to Friday’s game.

“We really set the tone for this one right away,” said Papazian, “Tre Blair came out with a 20-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and that really settled everyone in and got everyone believing. Things just rolled from there.”

Victor Rosa had four touchdowns and another 200-plus yard game for the Rams, but it was the improvement in the sense of the game that Papazian was most happy with. “Victor ran hard like he always does, but he also ran smarter,” Papazian noted. “He had a better understanding of where the sticks were. When we needed four he got us five and didn’t worry about trying to break off a 50-yard run every time.”

Papazian was also pleased with the play of Mason Stokes who had the biggest game of his career. “He was on the point of our ‘bunch’ formation,” said Papazian, “and really made things happen. He played hard and set the edge for us all night.”

Defensively the Rams once again came up big with three turnovers and another goal line stand, despite giving up some big second half yards through the air. Wethersfield quarterback Wil Bankowski connected on 12 of 17 passes for 137 yards in the second half, but could only engineer two offensive touchdowns against an aggressive Central defensive unit.

Justin Despins had an interception and the Rams also recovered two fumbles. 

“I thought Malachi Jones was really good in the middle of that defensive line,” said Papazian. “Johnny Rios plays 100 mph on every play and Mason (Stokes) had to step up after Ashton Zabka went down and came up with some really big plays, especially in the fourth quarter.”

The secondary had another big night as well, especially on the goal line stand at the end of the first half as the Rams were protecting their early lead. Damion Glasper had the initial contact out of the defensive backfield on two of the four plays as the Rams stopped the Eagles twice from inside the two yard line.

One other big play came after the Rams had come up with their second redzone stop of the night but were pinned deep in their own territory after going three and out late in the third quarter. With regular punter Ashton Zabka sidelined with a first half injury, Papazian was searching for someone to kick.

“We asked at halftime who thought they could kick the ball,” said Papazian. ”Of course Victor raised his hand and he went out there and booted it 51 yards to get us out of a huge hole and give us some breathing room. That was a key play for us in that game. … That was a big, big win for us against a very good team and a very good program. We had a lot of people step up in a big way.  We’re definitely getting better, but we’re not there yet. We still have room to grow.”

The Rams are now 2-1 overall and travel to winless Farmington on Friday. The victory over Wethersfield moved the Rams up to 12th place in the CIAC Class L playoff rankings, 10 points ahead of Wethersfield and 10 points behind Maloney in the group of one-loss teams.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Central on Monday, 27 September 2021 21:13. Updated: Monday, 27 September 2021 21:15.