BRISTOL - Following a 5-0 start to the season, the St. Paul football team is now looking to salvage its season after seeing its playoff hopes disappear with three straight losses.
Against winless Wilby (0-8) tonight, the Falcons (5-3) have a good chance to do so but aren’t expecting an easy game.
“We’re not taking any opponent lightly coming off of three losses,” St. Paul lineman Eric Langland said. “We want to finish our season strong and go 7-3. We’re working really hard so we can win out.”
The Wildcats have failed to run the football all season long and with just -2 rushing yards as a team, the Falcons shouldn’t have much trouble stopping the run.
Wilby sophomore running back Raekwon James leads the team in rushing with 104 yards and averaging 2.0 yards per carry, including a long of 30 yards.
With not much ability to run the football, much of it can be pointed Wilby’s smaller offensive line, something St. Paul believes it can take advantage of.
“I feel that we have people that can matchup with them and if we play strong we can shut them down,” St. Paul linebacker Chris Dionne said
At quarterback, Wilby is young with sophomore Alexandre Gonzalez.
While his inexperience has shown, Gonzalez has shown the ability to make some plays for the Wildcats throwing the football. Earlier this season in a game against Kennedy, he threw for 423 yards and six touchdowns.
However, St. Paul’s defense should be able to force some turnovers as Gonzalez has thrown 13 interceptions this season, including 10 in the last four games.
On the offensive side for the Falcons, there should be opportunities to put up points as Wilby has given up 46 points per game, allowing at least 50 points four times this season.
For the St. Paul offensive line, addressing different looks from defenses and opponents keying in on the run game will be big for the Falcons to put up a big point total.
“Teams have been defending us better,” St. Paul head coach Jude Kelly said. “We haven’t been able to get the ball to the perimeter like we were able to do earlier in the season. People are ganging up in the box to take away the inside run game. So we’re still able to make some good yards but the chances of breaking long runs haven’t been good.”
Getting the ground game established on the offensive side of the ball and shutting down Wilby by forcing turnovers is important for the Falcons to get back in the win column tonight after a few tough weeks.
“I think we got off path with the loss to Ansonia,” Dionne said. “So we need to get back on the path that we were before so hopefully this week will be a good week to start it back up and go and finish out the season strong.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811, or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan