BRISTOL - As the Bristol Eastern football team gears up for another training camp, which is now just weeks away, four players from last year’s squad have finalized their college decisions and will be continuing their playing careers.
Left tackle Andrew Consalvo and kicker John McPhee, a pair of best friends since they were young will be taking on the Plymouth State campus together this fall and competing for the Panthers football team.
Rajon Collins and Ariza Kolloverja will also be continuing their football careers at Division III schools. Collins is heading to Becker College and Kolloverja to Western Connecticut State University.
Consalvo was choosing between Plymouth State and Salve Regina, but the decision ultimately came down to where he felt was best for him.
The left tackle over the last two seasons improved from his junior to senior season and was a big part of the offensive improvement led by Lancers quarterback Justin Marshall. While Consalvo’s departure leaves a void on the left side, it’s a good pickup for a Plymouth State team that finished last season 9-2.
“It’s not like I want to be famous or anything,” Consalvo said. “I just want to get my name known and it’s going to be cool to say I was able to play in college because not everybody gets to do it so it’s a big opportunity and I’m gracious I got the opportunity to do it.”
McPhee will be looking to become the kicker for the Panthers after senior kicker Jeff Madden graduates. While Madden is set to depart following this coming season, McPhee will have to beat out Jeremy Martin for the role, who will be a junior.
Over his time at Eastern, McPhee stabilized the kicking game and will leave another hole the Lancers will need to fill. And since taking up the sport, McPhee has loved a certain part of being the kicker.
“With soccer it was always so slow, you only got the ball now and then,” McPhee said. “With football, once I’m out there and kicking I’m the star and the show is on me. That’s what I really wanted to do. I wanted to have my name out there more than in soccer you fall more into a team.”
Both Collins and Kolloverja will be making position changes at the college level.
Collins will be moving from his defensive end spot to play outside linebacker and safety at Becker College.
At Eastern, Collins was a presence in the backfield, especially getting after the quarterback as the primary pass rusher. He believes his game is best suited in open space at the next level and that is the reason behind the move. Collins has spent the summer training with Kolloverja, who played safety at defense for the Lancers, in order to be ready to go in the fall at the new position.
Playing for the Hawks wasn’t Collins’ first decision. He was seeking out a junior college team to play for but couldn’t find one before opting to go to Becker. Still, Collins has left that option open and hopes he can shine on the field for the Hawks, leading to a move to a higher level of football.
“We’re trying to see if I can get as much film as possible between my freshman and sophomore year,” Collins said. “If not, I’ll just stay at Becker but I’m trying to leave after my freshman year. The goal is to get to JUCO and play somewhere else at a higher division, definitely D-I.”
Kolloverja will be transitioning to wide receiver for the Colonials this fall after playing running back for Bristol Eastern, where he showed off an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make tacklers miss in open space.
Western Connecticut State went 7-3 last season and Kolloverja hopes that continues with him on campus.
“They’re a really good, winning program as of late in these past three years,” Kolloverja said. “And they seemed to not have as many wide receivers as they did in the past because most of them graduated so it gives me a good opportunity to get some playing time.”
The four players from Eastern moving on to play at the college level want to make a mark, something that wasn’t done in the win/loss column at Eastern but may have been done off the field.
“I want us to be remembered as a team that was willing to take a lot of hits and take a lot of damage for the future,” McPhee said. “A lot of people knew that we weren’t the greatest team, but we wanted to show people that we were a lot stronger than we were. We wanted to get the younger kids interested in the program and believing in the program and we did that I think. Now that we’re gone they’re going to step up and be great teams in the future.”