BRISTOL - As the rain poured down across the state, some teamâ€™s may have been practicing inside but the St. Paul football team saw the wetness as an advantage to begin the weekâ€™s preparation for tonightâ€™s home game against Watertown.
It was because the Falcons fumbled the ball four times in their first game Saturday against Seymour.
â€ś[Monday] weâ€™re out here in this pouring rain because the ball will be slippery, muddy and be hard to grip,â€ť St. Paul starting quarterback Kevin Ashworth said. â€śBut sun or rain, you got to grip the ball with everything you can and canâ€™t let it be on the ground. We had a lot of mistakes with the ball on the ground against Seymour so going out there in the rain really helped us with ball security.â€ť
Against the Indians, St. Paul will hope turnovers arenâ€™t an issue against last yearâ€™s No. 5 seed in the Class M state playoffs.
The Falcons wonâ€™t have to deal with quarterback Nick Dâ€™Elia, who torched the St. Paul defense for 319 passing yards, 39 rushing yards, four touchdowns through the air and one on the ground.
Outside of Watertownâ€™s seniors, the Indiansâ€™ skill players totaled just 18 yards of offense, so there will be a lot of new faces in this yearâ€™s group that lost its season opener 28-18 to Derby.
But the players to watch out for against Watertown arenâ€™t at skill positions with lineman Marty Smith, Alban Blerci and Charlie Mazzarella, along with fullback/middle linebacker Kyle Rimmick, as players who will have be kept track of.
Senior wide receiver Ian Keroack was expected to have a big role for Watertown coming into the year, but has been sidelined with an injury.
Offensively, St. Paul is always looks to establish the run game and Falcons tailback Connor Bogdanski will see Watertown as a welcoming sight after running for 120 yards and three scores last year on the road against the Indians.
But Bogdanski is focused on his play on the defensive side of the football.
â€śHonestly, I want to go out there on defense and get a shutout,â€ť Bogdanski said. â€śIâ€™m tired of all these little mistakes and seeing someone run 30 yards down our own sidelines with the ball in their hands. So I think we have to just bring the energy and enthusiasm on defense and come out and play a little smash mouth football.â€ť
The run game averaged 6.9 yards per carry against Watertown and Ashworth believes that the Indiansâ€™ inability to stop the run gives St. Paul an advantage.
â€śOur run has always done well against Watertown,â€ť Ashworth said. â€śIf you look at previous years weâ€™ve always run for a lot of yards against them so if we can stay physical and stay running hard I think this year we can run for just as many if not more yards than we have in the past.â€ť
Off to a 0-1 start to begin the season, St. Paul has a pair of big games on deck against Naugatuck and Ansonia so getting on track against Watertown is going to be important after the week one struggles.
â€śGoing into Naugatuck and Ansonia it would be a lot better to be 1-1 than 0-2,â€ť Ashworth said. â€śSo weâ€™re motivated that we can beat this team. We know if we play our best that we will beat this team. And so itâ€™s giving us confidence because in the years weâ€™ve beaten them we know if we play our best we can come out on top again.â€ť