BRISTOL - While a winless 2016 may be on the mind of opposing teams, it’s the last thing on the mind of this season’s Bristol Eastern football team.
“I want to tell people that it’s different,” senior linebacker Tyler Mason said. “Everything is going to change. We’re really working way too hard to be like we were last season. We’re going to keep getting experience and keep the progress going. It’s going to be more aggressive. The culture is totally different.”
Unlike last year, this year’s group is an experienced bunch. Four starters on the offensive line return. Quarterback Justin Marshall enters his second season as the starter. Playmakers such as Mason, Ariza Kolloverja and Jaden Laprise all return. The defense returns eight starters from last season.
“We definitely return a lot of guys with varsity playing experience,” Julius said. “That would be our No. 1 advantage from last year. Last year we started a lot of kids who were underclassmen, and even some of our seniors were first year varsity players.”
The core of the team is firmly in place. However, there are position battles going on.
The second cornerback spot will be one to watch early on in the season.
On the offensive line, other than the four returning starters, the team is expecting a big season out of first year starter Jake Dauphinee.
That group will be important for Marshall in his second season. His athletic ability jumps out but knowing the ins and outs of the game are something Marshall has been working on.
He has attended quarterback camps this summer and has put in work with coaches to improve in his junior season.
“The one thing that we’re working on with him a lot this year is his mental knowledge of the game and understanding his reads and progressions,” Julius said. “Getting him to think more like a coach and play-caller than just a player, and that’s a role that he embraces.”
Having Kolloverja and Laprise on his side isn’t a bad thing, either, as the two have explosive play potential. Kolloverja and Laprise both play both sides of the ball. Kolloverja led the team in tackles last season and was featured as a running back. This season he will see plenty of time at wide receiver as the team tries to showcase his athleticism in different facets of the offense.
Laprise is the top cornerback on the team as well as the top receiver. He will look to have a big senior season and continue off his strong preseason, where he stretched the defense out in scrimmages, scoring long touchdowns.
One major change for this season is the athletic ability on the defensive line, and the success there starts in the middle with Andrew Consalvo. The senior is the anchor of the group.
“Andrew makes a lot of tackles for a bigger kid,” Julius said. “Most people look at guys his size and think they’re not going to move very well, but that’s not Andrew. He’s a huge part of why we’re hopefully going to be successful up front.”
At linebacker, the team will have Mason leading the middle of the defense.
Last year has come and gone and the second year under Julius begins with a road game against E.O. Smith. The Lancers are ready to prove this year will be different, starting tonight.