Bristol Central trending toward a polished product as season nears finale

Published on Sunday, 14 November 2021 20:21
Written by DAVID GREENLEAF

@SportsInCT

All season long Bristol Central coach Jeff Papazian has talked about waiting for his team to put together a complete game. Friday night at Plainville the Rams came as close to that complete game effort as they have seen all year.

Only a string of undisciplined second quarter penalties stood in the way of that all around effort on both sides of the ball that Papazian has felt his team capable of all year. The Rams took control early, dominated defensively better than they have all season, and rolled to a 46-0 CCC Tier 3 victory over Plainville.

Central forced a fumble on the first Plainville series and had an interception on the second. Victor Rosa made the Devils pay for both turnovers as he led the Rams to touchdowns and a 20-o lead early in the second quarter. The Devils were never able to recover from the deep early hole.

“Right off the bat some of the things we worked all week on defensively paid off,” said Central coach Jeff Papazian. “We took them out of their comfort zone and we were able to capitalize early and things just rolled from there.”

Malachi Jones had the fumble recovery after a swarming front line smothered Plainville quarterback Michael Bakaysa in his own backfield on just the second play from scrimmage for the Blue Devils. The next Plainville possession ended on an interception by Anthony Paulino. Nik Salinas came up with the third turnover of the night for the Rams when he picked off a tipped pass for an interception on the Devils’ final drive of the night.

“We’ve been maligned on defense all year,” said Papazian, “But they really stepped up tonight. The defensive line and the back seven they all went out and did their jobs. That’s a quality Plainville team. Our defense was able to take away what they do best tonight.

Plainville had negative yardage rushing as Bakaysa was sacked four times and running back Kye McGraw was bottled up in his own backfield but the Rams front line on every carry. Plainville relied on the passing attack and while Bakaysa was able to hook up a couple of times with Joseph Vasquez for some big gainers, most of his 13 completions were of the short yardage variety and covered quickly by the Central defense.

The Devils were in Central territory only twice in the game. They got as close as the Rams’ 22 late in the contest before Salinas ended the threat with his interception.

Offensively the Rams had another big night, racking up 493 yards in total offense. It was the fifth time this season that the Central offense had more than 400 yards in a game.

Victor Rosa rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns while throwing a 31-yard pass to Ashton Zabka for another, but the Rams were able to mix it up a bit on offense as Damion Glasper, Tre Blair, and Justin Despins all had big nights. 

“We worked real hard in practice this week,” said Rosa. “The offensive line stepped up and did a real nice job blocking for us.

Glasper had a 59-yard rush for a touchdown that put the Rams up 28-0 at the half and Blair caught four passes for 39 yards including couple of big third down plays that kept the drives alive. 

Rosa now has 2,316 rushing yards for the season and is in third place all time for Bristol Central behind the 3,005 and 2,711 of Tim Washington in 2000 and 2001. That total puts him 25th all-time in state of Connecticut history with at least one game remaining. He has scored 36 touchdowns and thrown for six more in nine games. 

With only their thanksgiving morning matchup with Bristol Eastern left on the schedule, the Rams remain in contention for a postseason playoff spot. They remain in fifth place in the Class L rankings with Naugatuck, Maloney, Windsor and St. Joseph, all with one loss, ahead of them.

Naugatuck has two games remaining including a Thanksgiving date with unbeaten Ansonia. Windsor closes out its season against a rapidly improving Middletown team. Maloney hosts Platt in the annual Stoddard Bowl battle for Meriden bragging rights and St. Joseph plays 7-2 Trumbull. 

A win for the Rams on Thanksgiving would clinch a playoff berth. A win and a loss by one of the teams ahead of them in the standings would likely give Central a home game in the opening round. A loss on Thanksgiving could drop the Rams out of the playoffs with the right combination of wins by the teams ranked below them.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Plainville on Sunday, 14 November 2021 20:21. Updated: Sunday, 14 November 2021 20:24.