By MICHAEL LETENDRE
The Bristol Central football team had a busy offseason after the 2012 campaign.
After a tough slate of spring practices, the Rams have entered the fray with a new quarterback at the helm as three-year starter Andrew Laviero moved on after graduation.
Over the past four seasons with coach Sal Cintorino at the helm, Central has seen various amounts of success.
But he expects a little bit more this year as several veteran players – with senior back Tyler Burrow ready for battle – retake the field.
So what’s going down in terms of Bristol Central’s 2013 football this year
Let’s take a look:
Head Coach: Sal Cintorino (11-29 overall in five seasons).
Last Year: 3-7 overall (0-5 in Division II-West play; 3-2 in non-conference affairs).
Strength: Returning speed; quickness (Burrow)
Key Losses: Andrew Laviero (QB); Marty McNiff (OL/DL); Cy McIntosh (G); James Glowa (G); Jake Martel (DB/CB); Ronny St. Denis (FB/SS); Andrew Martin (OL/DL); James Glowa (OL/LB); Glenn Pierce (left tackle).
Players to watch: Tyler Burrow (sr, TB, All Conference); Nate Hamm (sr, RB/DB); Jarrett Michaels (sr, QB);Taylor DeForge (sr, QB/DB); Ashon Anderson (jr, QB), Kevin Boi (sr, TE/LB); Tyler Whitten (sr, TE); Keon Walton (sr, SE); Drew Lee (jr, WR/DB); Cody McQuarrie (sr, C); Christian Hildebrand (sr, LB); Austin Rollins (sr, OL/DL); Bobby Jaccques (sr, OL/DL); Jacob Hall (jr, OL/DL); Josh Moxam (so, OL/DL); D’Andre Conaway (jr, FB); .
Analysis: Since coming onboard, Central coach Sal Cintorino has laid down the foundation for a successful program.
And in year five of his plan, the Rams are poised for a breakout season.
Off a 3-7 campaign in 2012, Central is looking to at least get to .500, which would be a first for the Rams under Cintorino.
Forty players make up the varsity roster and several familiar faces return to the fray.
While Central’s quarter back position will have a new chucker installed, there’s a familiar back in place ready for action.
That back is senior Tyler Burrow who barely missed out on a 1,000 yard season as a junior.
Don’t expect the same result as Burrow – who frankly is a certifiable tank when he’s smashing into, and through, people – should race to that total some time before the Thanksgiving Day game.
For the 2012 campaign, Burrow rushed for 986 total yards off 200 carries and did the bulk of Central’s running.
Burrow was responsible for 85 percent of Central’s rushing touchdowns last year and also made 14 receptions with then senior quarterback Andrew Laviero for 114 total yards.
A 2012 All CCC South performer, Burrow is a bulldog and it will take several members of the opposing defense to track down the senior sensation.
He’s more than capable of snaring 200 yards in a game and against E.O. Smith back on Nov. 10 in Central’s 28-13 victory, Burrow went for an astounding 208.
While the attention and focus will be on Burrow, senior running back Nate Hamm also will be called to duty in the Rams running schemes as well.
Hamm made 33 carries for 84 yards last season and also had a rushing touchdown to his credit.
It’s off the power of those two backs that will determine how effective Central’s running game will truly be.
Central should have numerous offensive options and the key is to keep opponents guessing as to who gets the ball and when.
And then there’s the issue at quarterback.
Who will be throwing the ball for the Rams this coming season?
It’s difficult to say who will be taking over for Laviero – who threw for an outstanding 1,231 yards last season, which was the seventh best single season mark in school history – at QB but there’s a couple throwers that will accept the challenge.
Senior Jarrett Michaels and junior newcomer Ashon Anderson are vying for the quarterback job and both have the tools for the role.
Even Taylor Deforge might be in the realm of the throwing possibility but whoever answers the call, it will come as a first-year varsity quarterback option.
At receiver, senior Keon Walton is back in the mix and the third year player should once again make an impact.
For the Rams last year, he made 15 grabs for a team best 375 yards and scored four touchdowns.
And unlike the New England Patriots, tight end will be strong-point for Central as seniors Kevin Boi and Tyler Whitten will snare some passes from the quarterback while junior Drew Lee make up the best of the wide receiving corps.
Defensively, Central needs to tighten it up as last year, the squad gave up just under 31 points-per-game while scoring around 20 a contest.
That’s the problem when Central plays the Middletowns and Windsors of the division in terms of battling high octane offenses.
But the defense will surely be improved this season.
Central will turn to seniors Cody McQuarrie, Christian Hildebrand, Austin Rollins and Bobby Jaccques along with junior Jacob Hall and sophomore lineman Josh Moxon.
That group of defense standouts should be able to step up and give the offense a chance to pile points on the board in order for the Rams to compete.
Division II-West Outlook: The division is once again loaded and there are three teams to seem to rise to the top in the West.
Farmington – as of late – has surged to the top of the Division II-West standings and Middletown always seems to return a strong team.
Central, with the option of adding an 11th game to its line-up, decided not to and will open up its 2013 campaign during Week 2 against Edwin O. Smith High School of Storrs.
Is .500 out of the question for the Rams?
No, but with a boatload of talent in the division, Central will be challenged in every game.