BRISTOL - For St. Paul football, the resume of No. 4 ranked Ansonia is no secret.
The Chargers’ state-record 800th program win earlier this season serves as a reminder that tonight’s game is the biggest game of the year for the Falcons.
The message coming into this week for the Falcons is confidence, not finding it, but keeping it as St. Paul is off to its strongest start since 2008 when the Falcons started 6-0.
“A lot of teams lose the game [against Ansonia] because going into it they’re all thinking they should get destroyed,” St. Paul quarterback Kevin Ashworth said. “I’m trying to keep everybody’s heads up at practice because we can’t lose this game before it starts.”
Ansonia has a returning all-state running back in senior Markell Dobbs. This season, Dobbs has 643 rushing yards through five games, an average of 128.6 per. His 12 rushing touchdowns are tied for fourth in the state. Dobbs also excels on special teams with a pair of punt return touchdowns this year.
St. Paul’s run defense has been steady this season and will get a chance to show what they’re truly made of against Dobbs.
Chargers senior quarterback Justin Lopez has 260 yards passing yards and four touchdowns on 11 completions. He has attempted just 25 passes.
On offense for the Falcons, the game plan has been consistent, establish a ground game. That may have to change this week in order to come out with a win, however.
“We know that beating Ansonia straight up without changing our game plan is very difficult,” St. Paul wide receiver Noah Mendoza said. “So we’re going to have to rely on the pass a little bit more this week.”
Ashworth has just five pass attempts this season and the limited film to look at could be something St. Paul uses to its advantage.
While Dobbs has been the key for Ansonia offensively, the Falcons have a weapon of their own in the backfield with Damien Rabis leading the way.
On the season Rabis has accounted for 723 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Getting Rabis going will be an emphasis tonight.
“That’s the plan,” St. Paul head coach Jude Kelly said. “We’re going to do what we do and realize that this is a great opportunity to play a great football team and come away with a victory.”
For the Falcons, a win this week would mean a little more than the other five have.
“I think if we came away with a victory it would be a statement win for the program and it would be a stepping stone toward finally gaining the respect that we think we deserve,” St. Paul senior lineman Dominic Aiello said.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan