Bristol Central ventures into unfamiliar territory this week as it takes on Wilton in an Alliance game at Wilton’s Fujitani Stadium. It is only the second time that a Bristol Central team has taken on an opponent from the FCIAC during the regular season and will be a clash of two very different football worlds.
Central is 1-1 on the season after its exciting 31-30 win at South Windsor last week, but it will be a much more disciplined opponent on the opposite side of the football tonight so execution will be key in all aspects of the game.
Last week’s win featured a variety of players stepping up to make big plays a key times and coach Jeff Papazian feels that the variety is a positive for the Rams as they look to remodel themselves after years of playing behind one dominant player.
“We really had a lot of individuals who contributed last week,” he said, “and that’s the way it has to be for us this year. It took every one of those big plays and every one of those players to get us out of there with a one-point win last week. We need a lot of contributions in all phases of the game for us to have success.”
Tre Blair was the leading rusher for the Rams last week as they packed it in for a run dominant attack. The senior rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries and caught a TD pass of 24 yards for another score.
“We went to Tre quite a bit last week,” said Papazian, because that’s what the defense was giving us. We’re going to take advantage of what’s there but we’re ready to readjust as we go.”
“Wilton is a very disciplined team,” said Papazian. “They try to make the right play very time and they keep at it. They are really consistent and fundamentally sound all the time.”
The Rams won the turnover battle a week ago with two interceptions, including one by Aiden Lamarre that allowed them to go up by two scores late, and a fumble recovery. In week one against Manchester, the turnover ratio went the other way in a tough loss.
“We won the turnover battle last week,” Papazian said. “That’s always going to help you in the long run. We are going to need to be on top of our game against this very disciplined team tonight.”
Last week Central kicked an early field goal that gave them the odd point advantage throughout the contest. Oscar Kuzniar’s 30-yard kick was Central’s first field goal since Brett Adams kicked one late in the 20-16 season.
“Having the ability to do (kick a field goal) when a drive stalls out is a big factor for us,” Papazian said last week. “We have all the confidence in the world in Oscar in that situation.”
The Rams have never played Wilton in football but the two schools have some recent history in CIAC tournament action. Bristol Central’s soccer team knocked Wilton out in the first round of last year’s state tournament and the two schools battled in an epic overtime slugfest in the CIAC basketball tournament last spring before the Rams pulled away for the win enroute to a state title.
Central has played only three other FCIAC opponents in its 64-year history and two of those games came back-to back. The Rams battled Darien in the 1979 state championship game and then opened the next season against Westhill of Stamford. Central teams squared off against Danbury four times in the early years of the program. The Rams are 1-5 all-time against Fairfield County teams.
Tickets for tonight’s game are available online only through the Wilton High School website.
Bristol Central at Wilton
When: Friday, 7 pm
Where: Fujitani Field, Wilton High School
Records: BC 1-1, Wilton 2-0
Last Meeting: First meeting
This Alliance games will be the first ever meeting on the gridiron between the two schools and they know very little about each other except for what they have seen on film in the last two weeks. The Rams will need to play a much more disciplined game against a Wilton club that has posted two solid victories. The Rams come in off an exciting one-point win a week ago and will be looking to build on that success in unfamiliar territory.
Dave Greenleaf’s Prediction: Bristol Central 24, Wilton 21