A veteran and a first-timer share “Athlete of the Week” accolades following a review of Bristol and Terryville fall high school sports. They are senior quarterback Justin Marshall of the Bristol Eastern football team and junior volleyball setter Alexis Carabetta of St. Paul, respectively.
Carabetta, the daughter of Beth and Mark Carabetta of Meriden, is one of the key players who will return next year for varsity head coach Devin Pecevich. She was selected a second team All-State pick in Class S this past season after posting 272 assists, 13 kills, 49 aces and 113 service points.
“I was very excited, because obviously that’s a big honor,” Carabetta said. “The coach and athletic director [Dave Dennehy] both told me at the same time.”
The Falcons went 7-13 in 2017 and turned things around this fall with a win-loss mark of 17-5, earning a trip to the second round of Class S tournament play. St. Paul, seeded No. 5, topped visiting No. 28 University 3-0 in the first round before losing to visiting No. 21 Immaculate in the next round.
“We were more successful this season due to the commitment that each girl made to the team,” Carabetta said. “Going into the season one of our goals was making it to the state tournament, so we were happy with that. We achieved our goal because of the efforts we made both inside and outside of school.”
She added that she and her teammates aren’t losing many players, so there will be a lot of potential for further success next fall, and they have coach Pecevich returning for a second run.
“He’s been our JV coach and this is his first year as varsity coach,” Carabetta said. “We all loved his positive energy and the fact that he wanted to win.”
Carabetta took up the sport in middle school in the sixth grade.
“Volleyball is a popular sport in my family,” Carabetta said. “My mom played and both aunts played in high school. My twin sister, Grace, plays for St. Paul, too. I like being able to work as a team and the many friendships I made through volleyball.”
In addition to volleyball, Carabetta also plays tennis for St. Paul, concentrating on doubles play.
Marshall, who has also received multiple “AOW” nods in wrestling, won Bristol Eastern's 2018 offensive player of the game honors for his play in the annual Thanksgiving Day game played the day after the holiday.
In the 24-19 Central win, Marshall took part in each of the Lancers’ three touchdowns. He rushed for 92 yards on 19 carries and completed 6-of-8 passes for 115 yards. Two tallies were on short runs, with his passing score going to Jaden Larise for a 61-yarder.
For the entire season, Marshall made 97 of 169 passes and threw for five touchdowns and 977 yards. His career passing yardage of 3,268 sits third all-time in Bristol high school football, and second to Steve Mills at Bristol Eastern.
His coach, Anthony Julius, praised his offensive field leader.
“Justin has been a three-year starter for us at Bristol Eastern at quarterback. He also played two years of defense as well,” Julius said. “He is an all-around football player. Justin is defined by his toughness. Every week when I speak with other coaches, one of the first things they say is No. 11 is one tough kid. To me that is the ultimate compliment, when an opposing coach views you as a tough player.
“He is not only a good football player, but a heck of a wrestler as well, and I can’t wait to see his success this winter season. Justin is someone the program will sorely miss, and the coaching staff will miss not having No. 11 in the lineup.”
Marshall talked about his final high school football game.
“It was a tough game and both sides played good football and it was a close game,” Marshall said. “We just didn’t end up on top. It could’ve gone either way. We played our best game on Thanksgiving.”
In getting to where he is today, Marshall took up organized football in kindergarten with the Bristol Bulldogs and stayed in the program until high school. He played either running or quarterback through the years and says quarterback is his favorite position on the team.
“You are the leader of the team. You make important decisions on the field,” Marshall said.
He is now practicing for the 2018-2019 wrestling season and is competing once again at 152 pounds. Last year he captured the Class L crown at that weight and finished sixth at the State Open.
“I like wrestling because it makes you mentally tough and you have to work hard every day,” Marshall said. “It’s just you and another person on the mat. I like the physical contact, both in wrestling and football.”
His plans for the 2019-2020 school year include studying criminology in college, while also playing football at that level.