BRISTOL - When the lights turn on Friday night, Bristol Eastern football knows one thing is for sure - junior wide receiver Jaden Laprise will be ready to compete.
In all five of the Lancers’ games this season, Laprise has beaten opposing cornerbacks down the field and is becoming one of the more dangerous receivers in the Central Connecticut Conference, having played a role in four of the seven scoring drives that Bristol Eastern has put together this year.
Laprise has accounted for two touchdowns, one against E.O. Smith in the first game of the season on a fourth and goal; and the second was the game-deciding touchdown against Newington in Bristol Eastern’s first win since 2015.
On the scoring drive in the third game of the year against Maloney, Laprise had a 33-yard catch to set the Lancers up with good field position and in the Newington game he also had a 52-yard catch that put the first points on the board for Bristol Eastern.
Through the first five games, Laprise has 246 receiving yards to go with the two touchdowns.
All of these season highlights represent a tough competitor and one that has always shown blazing speed. The difference this season is the strength that Laprise has displayed.
“I was impressed [with] how he was able to go over my corner, who had it basically in his hands, and take the ball right from him and pull it down for a touchdown,” Newington head coach Jason Pace said. “That just shows pure heart and that drive that you’re going to get that football and not going to let anybody else have it.”
Laprise started half of the games during his freshman season and all 10 games as a sophomore at the varsity level. Now in his junior season, Laprise is becoming a game-changer for Bristol Eastern.
Lancers head coach Anthony Julius knew Laprise had the talent needed to become the premier offensive weapon for the team.
“The one thing that Jaden really took to heart last year is that we told him he needed to get stronger,” Julius said. “He worked his butt off all offseason and has definitely gotten stronger. He’s not getting beat up on press coverage anymore and he’s able to beat the press, and those 50-50 balls that he’s winning and going up for are balls that he might not have caught last year.”
Both his speed and strength were on full display in front of the home crowd in Bristol Eastern’s win over Newington.
His blazing speed beat the Indians cornerback and Laprise caught the pass from Justin Marshall in stride. After that set up the field goal going into halftime, Laprise had a 27-yard touchdown catch in the first drive of the second half that he ripped away from the Indians cornerback.
Those two scoring plays led to Bristol Eastern’s first win in 17 games.
For Laprise, having some family competition at the school adds a little bit of motivation for him.
His cousin, Kailey Laprise, is on the girls varsity soccer team for Bristol Eastern.
“I don’t know if she sees it like that, but I kind of see it like that,” Laprise said. “We root for each other though.”
Going forward, Laprise will be challenged even more as he could start seeing more double coverage, with the targets Marshall has given him each week and the big plays Laprise has responded with.
“I love the competition,” Laprise said. “I like to go against guys that are going to make me better as a player.”
With his stellar start to this season, opposing teams are starting to take notice.
“He’s a playmaker for them and a go-to guy and somebody that it seems the quarterback has confidence [in], and if they throw the ball to him he’s going to make plays for them,” Pace said.
For Laprise, the sky is the limit, according to Julius, and he may just be getting started as the star wide receiver for Bristol Eastern.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or email@example.com On Twitter: @OrencoleDan