By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – During its Thanksgiving Day challenge against Bristol Central, the Bristol Eastern football team needed a near perfect defensive game-plan to knock out a very aggressive outfit.
And the Lancers got it done, slowing down outstanding running back Tyler Burrow while forcing quarterback Andrew Laverio into some tough tosses as Eastern picked up an impressive 17-6 victory over Central.
Defense ruled the day as Burrow, off an impressive 19-yard drive to start the game, gained precious few yards from that point of the contest.
“(Coach) Mike, myself, Tim Barrette, Sean Dorantes was a newcomer to us, Andy Ingvertsen, Rich Klett…everybody came together on this one,” said assistant coach Anthony Julius about the Eastern defense game-plan. “We had a lot of time to prep for this game. We a lot some film on (Central) and we felt we put something together our kids could execute and obviously, they showed it. All the credit goes to them.”
“We could draw it up all we want but they needed to execute (the game plan) and that’s what they did today.”
The Lancers stuffed Central’s offensive line and when the Rams saw a little quick daylight, those seams were quickly sealed by Eastern.
And that spelled trouble for both the ground and air attacks by the Rams.
The Lancers sacked Laviero seven times, made four additional tackles for losses as the Rams had negative numbers in the rushing category.
Mike Belton and Juan Gonzalez picked off passes while Eastern Defensive Player of the Game, Harrison Sacharko, made multiple tackles, sacks, and just helped to funnel the action into multiple Eastern defenders.
And then there was Nick Crowley who made half-a-dozen tackles, added a sack, and then rushed for 200 yards off 37 blazing carries in one of the most all-around impressive efforts in recent Thanksgiving gridiron history.
“They’re aren’t too many words that describe Nick Crowley as a person,” said Julius. “One of them is heart. He’s the heart and soul of our team. He carried us today and the guys up front did a nice job for him. They knew Nick wanted this bad and Nick stepped up today.”
Health was the critical factor for the Lancers as it returned just about its entire compliment of warriors to action.
And that included senior Gabe Kurasz, junior linemen Kyle Porter, and sophomore QB Tommy Curtin.
But having Kurasz back in the think of things was ever so important as he was lost during Week 1’s victory against RHAM and didn’t come back until Thanksgiving.
He was his usual defensive presence against Central and just having him back on the field – making his Muzzy Field debut as a senior in the final game of the season – a welcomed return.
“Having Gabe Kurasz in the line-up was our big boost to our team,” said Julius. “I think it was a good morale builder for us.”
With the victory, the Lancers finished the campaign at 5-5.
It was Eastern’s first 5-5 season since 2009 and this year, the Lancers thought they had a shot at a final record above the .500 mark.
But getting the big one on Thanksgiving is always the game you want to take home and that’s exactly what the Lancers accomplished.
“Anytime you can win on Thanksgiving, it’s a great thing,” said Julius. “Obviously at 5-5, I’m not going to lie, our kids are disappointed, we’re disappointed but at the same time, to end the season on the good note is always a good thing. But I think if you look back at the end of the year with the amount of injuries we had, we lost crucial, crucial people.”
“For what these kids accomplished, to go 5-5, is a testament to how hard these kids worked and the character they have.”
By MICHAEL LETENDRE