BRISTOL - Tonightâ€™s game against Wethersfield is about respect for the Bristol Eastern football team.
Not earning it, but regaining it following a pair of tough road losses to Platt and Hartford Public.
â€śWe just didnâ€™t play our best football,â€ť Lancers fullback Steven Hopkins said. â€śWe need to be sound in all three phases of the game - special teams, offense and defense. We came out strong against Platt on offense, not so well on defense and special teams. And against Hartford [Public], that was not a good effort all around.â€ť
Back home where they are 2-0 in front of the home fans, the Lancers face a team with a similar story, as the Eagles are 2-5.
â€śItâ€™s pretty big for us,â€ť Bristol Eastern lineman Andrew Consalvo said. â€śWeâ€™ve struggled on the road this year and at home weâ€™ve been pretty strong, so having the support of our fans behind us, I think weâ€™ll do well this week.â€ť
Wethersfield is coming off two home losses to Maloney and Windsor.
In the two games, the Eagles scored seven points against the Spartans in a 27-7 loss and were shut out by the Warriors 39-0.
Wethersfield wonâ€™t be taken lightly, though, as the Eagles have beaten both Platt and Hartford Public, the two losses that the Lancers have suffered coming out of their bye week. All five of the Wethersfield losses have come against quality opponents, as the combined record of the Eagles opponents thus far is 26-7.
As a balanced team on offense and defense, Bristol Eastern must be clicking in order to come away with a win.
Offensively, the Eagles donâ€™t have a standout player. They have a solid running back in Rossano Digiacomo and a pair of go-to receivers in Ryan Skelly and David Colon. The Lancers defense should be able to play a strong game again.
The edge for Bristol Eastern on offense could come on the ground as the offensive line has improved and earlier in the season, Bristol Central ran all over the Eagles in a 33-0 win with both Darrell Payton and Dathan Hickey going over 100 yards rushing.
Bristol Eastern has thrived lately on the ground with Ariza Kolloverja leading the way and Matt Dâ€™Amato, Tyler Mason and Hopkins also getting work.
Lining up at fullback, Hopkins has been a big part of the success on the ground for the Lancers.
â€śI feel like we have a good chance at establishing the run game this week,â€ť Hopkins said. â€śIt all starts up front. We canâ€™t do anything without an offensive line so if they block well, as a fullback I can get to the secondary and block the linebackers and itâ€™s all up to Ariza [Kolloverja] and whoever is at tailback at that point in time.â€ť
At times Bristol Eastern has looked the part of a winning team but its inconsistencies have played a key part in the five losses.
Developing some consistency on both sides of the football is something that the Lancers hope to see starting tonight.
â€śWeâ€™re hoping that the run game stays strong,â€ť Bristol Eastern head coach Anthony Julius said. â€śWe hope it continues taking strides in the right direction and hopefully open up some play action passes for us.â€ť
â€śTheir running backs run the ball well and they have lineman that can pull and good receivers outside so weâ€™re going to have to be really sound on defense,â€ť Julius said.
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ orÂ On Twitter: @OrencoleDan