Clash of the Turkey Day: What to expect from Central

A scene from the 2011 Battle for the Bell between Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern.

By MICHAEL LETENDRE
STAFF WRITER
BRISTOL – Does the Bristol Central football team has a good chance at finally toppling crosstown rival Bristol Eastern on the annual Thanksgiving Day game?
Well, the squad certainly has a good shot at it.
With a little momentum on its side off a big win against E.O. Smith last week – plus a little boost on the health front – this team is poised to win its first Turkey game since the likes of Aaron Hernandez and Matt Coyne were causing havoc on the field back in 2005.
But it won’t be easy as Eastern has been a big bounce-back team in 2012 and off two straight losses coming into the showdown, the Lancers will be hungry to reach the .500 barrier.
Here’s a look at the Rams and what to expect next Thursday.
Head Coach: Sal Cintorino (looking for his first Thanksgiving Day victory with BC).
Date and time of the game: The teams will clash at 10:30 a.m. from historic Muzzy Field on Thanksgiving Day.
Last Year: Central, trailing 21-0, made a huge last quarter comeback and fell by only seven points (21-14).
The Roster: Andrew Laviero (sr., QB); Marty McNiff (sr., OL/DL); Cy McIntosh (sr., G); James Glowa (sr., G); Jake Martel (sr., DB/CB); Ronny St. Denis (sr., FB/SS); Tyler Burrow (jr., TB); Andrew Martin (sr., OL/DL); Keon Walton (jr., WR); Gino Rafaniello (DL); Christian Hildebrand (jr., IL); Caleb Hildebrand (so., LB), James Glowa (sr., OL/LB), Kevin Boi (jr., OL/LB); Austin Rollins (jr., NG); Bobby Jaccques (jr., OL/DL), Jarrett Michaels (jr., TE/OL); Taylor Whitten (TE); Glenn Pierce (sr., left tackle), Nathan Hamm (jr., RB), Josh Moxom (fr., OL/DL), D’Andre Conaway (so., RB).
Why Central will win: Offensively, Central can give the Lancers some real problems. Former Eastern receiver Keon Walton is dangerous in the open field and Tyler Burrow will run through a brick wall if he has to for that extra yardage. And then there’s quarterback Andrew Laviero who, if given time, will make connections all over the field.
X-Factor: Health. This team has been banged up from week to week and hopefully, Central has all its big guns ready for the big game.
Bristol Eastern can NOT…Allow Tyler Burrow to make any type of kickoff return. If Eastern kicks Burrow the ball, it could be six quick points for Bristol Central.
Outlook: This is a game for the taking by Central and after defeating E.O. Smith last week, this team sees a little daylight at the end of the tunnel.
And beating Eastern on the biggest day of the season would give the Rams a 4-6 ledger this year while a .500 is mark is out of the cards for Central, the season has still been a success.
Central will work off the strength off its offense – and its outstanding line- as the Rams have the all the tools to score points against a stingy Eastern defense.
Tyler Burrow will be looking to join the exclusive 1,000-yard club as all the junior back needs is about 48 yards to nab a four-digit total.
Burrow has rushed for 16 touchdowns this year and has 952 yards on the ground entering the BC/BE challenge.
He can strike quickly and if you dare to kick him the ball off a punt or a kickoff, be prepared for a long runback and a possible score.
Then, you throw in the likes of senior quarterback Andrew Laviero and the Central offense has some real ability to strike and strike quickly.
Laviero has had some big throwing games this season and has racked up 1,173 yards off 70 completions that was good for eight touchdowns.
The QB has taken a bit of a beating this year – per his usual – but Laviero never quits and if you throw him around, he always bounces back and comes for more.
Eastern transfer Keon Walton has played extremely well for Central and leads the team in reception yards.
The speedy Walton has 14 catches on the year for 349 yards on the season and a team leading four touchdown receptions.
And then you have crafty receivers like Jake Martel (15 catches, 279 yards, 2 TDs), Ronnie St. Denis (team-leading 18 receptions, 294 yards, TD) and Burrow (14-114) who are all tough to mark.
Laviero and crew will give the Lancers problems and if Central starts to throw the ball, Eastern’s defense will be kept busy.
Walton can also run the ball on the ground with reliability as he has made 26 rushes for 179 yards and a touchdown.
Central has a little speed in key areas and that’s where the Lancers will have to make that first tackle count.
But all those Central players get open for a reason.
Again, it’s the Central line who deserves the headlines here and the likes of Marty McNiff, James Glowa and Gino Rafaniello, good things always seem to happen and those seams and holes they make give Burrow that escape he’s looking for.
Defensively, if Central can make stops early and often in the game, the Rams will get a quick edge in the showdown.
Central has given up 112 first period points this year, while yielding 76 in the second, and those tough starts always seems to put the Rams behind the eight-ball right off the bat.
Central allows 12.4 points in the first stanza alone at that’s where the Rams’ defense cannot let Eastern light up the board early.
Overall, Central allows 30.7 points-per-game but making some early stops against Eastern is critical.
If the Rams‘ defense is up to the task – and healthy – then Eastern will have a battle on its hands.
Martel can make some stops while St. Denis and Walton will also help out.
Rafaniello is a pest defensively while Caleb and Christian Hildebrand will be big on the line.
Kevin Boi and freshmen Josh Moxom will also help out as this defense has some real stopping power.
Again, it’s all about health and if the full compliment of players is available on both sides of the ball, Central will be able to throw the kitchen sink at the Lancers.
Bottom Line: If Bristol Central comes out and plays like it did in that last second loss against Farmington, the Rams can pull this one off.
If Central simply sticks to its game plan, victory number four is at hand.
And the winner is…This is going to be close – like last season – but Bristol Eastern sneaks out this one with a 28-20 victory in what will be a close game.