More than a month has passed since the Bristol Eastern football teamâ€™s last win, a 13-7 defeat of RHAM on Sept. 17.
Coming off of their bye week into a Thursday-night road contest against East Catholic, the Lancers will look to put an end to their three-game losing streak and start the second half of their season moving in the right direction.
After starting the season 2-0 for the first time in a decade, Eastern proved it is capable of competing with every team on its schedule. The Lancers remained competitive in each of its ensuing three losses, but failed to execute well enough in important junctures of the games. They lost their last two games by a total of seven points and an opportunity to take the lead on their final drive in both contests.
Coming out of the bye week, Eastern hopes to even its record to 3-3 against a 1-4 East Catholic team that scored 20 points once in its first five games. The Lancersâ€™ defense played well throughout their open half of the season and kept them close in their more hard-fought games. Their 28-12 loss to Wilbur Cross on Sept. 24 is the only time they allowed more than 21 points in a game.
The Eagles defense was similarly stout early the season despite having one win in five games, never allowing more than 21 points in any of their losses. The highest scoring game for East Catholicâ€™s offense and defense was the teamâ€™s 27-26 overtime win over Montville.
Eastern senior running back Alex Marshall may pose the greatest challenge to East Catholicâ€™s defense yet. Marshall has 980 rushing yards in five games this year in addition to nine touchdowns and will continue to be the focal point of the Lancersâ€™ offense. Like every team Eastern will face this season, the Eagles know how frequently Marshall will get the ball, so they will look to be the first team to hold him below 100 yards in a game this season.
While it will not impact his workload, Marshall fumbled in the red zone in each of Easternâ€™s previous two games, ending drives that were likely to end with points. Marshall said he planned to spend the bye week working on protecting the ball and will be focused on keeping the ball in his arms when he gets hit because the Lancers canâ€™t squander quality drives if they want to reenter the win column.
Eastern also used its week off to get healthier and recover from some injuries that kept important players off the field in recent games. Both sides of the ball lost crucial pieces to its success and while the team stayed competitive without them, having them on the field makes the Lancers a more difficult team to play against.
East Catholic entered its bye week off a 21-12 loss to RHAM, which Eastern beat for its second win of the season. The Lancersâ€™ defense did not allow a point until the fourth quarter of that game while the Eagles were outplayed by the same opponent. Beating East Catholic ended a three-game losing streak for RHAM and a strong effort from Eastern will likely earn them the same reward.
Kickoff for this game is at 7 p.m. from Cheney Tech in Manchester.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com.