BRISTOL - Coming into the brunt of its schedule, the St. Paul football team is off to a strong 2-0 start to the season after wins over Sacred Heart and Holy Cross.
Tonight’s opponent, Watertown, presents the Falcons with a few challenges on the field but St. Paul believes it matches up well.
“They’re always tough and physical and sound with what they do,” Falcons head coach Jude Kelly said. “They make good adjustments. They can pack it in and also spread it out around the field. Defensively, they can come at you from all different angles so we have to be prepared for any hardnosed offense or defense.”
The Indians have a mobile quarterback in senior Nick D’Elia.
With him at quarterback, D’Elia’s ability to run will keep the St. Paul defense wary of him at all times both keeping the ball and rolling out in the pocket looking downfield for big plays.
“They really like to pass the ball,” St. Paul lineman Dominic Aiello said. “They have a quarterback who has a really good arm and is really mobile so we’re expecting that they’re going to try and run around with him and let him make plays on his feet possibly airing it out a few times.”
After getting gouged by Holy Cross star receiver DeAndre Wallace in their last game, the Falcons secondary will be tested again by Watertown receiver Dan Graziano, who poses some different challenges himself. He’s much shorter and less of a deep weapon than Wallace.
“It’s the pass that we’re worried about a little bit more but I still feel as though our corners and our secondary can take care of the pass,” St. Paul running back Chris Dionne said.
Establishing the run and staying on the ground as much as possible is the priority for St. Paul offensively.
That running game saw another player step up last week when Falcons fullback Connor Bogdanski, who scored a twice in the second half to help St. Paul seal the win.
Adding Bogdanski to pair with Kevin Ashworth, Damien Rabis and Dionne in the running game makes the Falcons even more dangerous and multi-dimensional on offense.
“I think we’ll be fine [against Watertown],” Bogdanski said. “We just gotta play our game and get all of our assignments because we have an answer for almost everything and just have to be able to execute.”
In what is expected to be another well-contested game, St Paul hopes the special team performance against Holy Cross - Rabis returned a kick back for a touchdown - carries over this week.
“Special teams can win or break a team,” Rabis said.
If the Falcons are able to execute in all three phases, they should come away with a victory, giving them their first 3-0 start since 2008, a year in which the team finished the regular season 9-2. For this year’s group, a similar start would be special.
“Even us going 2-0, my past three years here we always lost game one,” Aiello said. “I can’t remember the last St. Paul team ever starting out 3-0 so that’s a real big goal for us this week.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan