By MICHAEL LETENDRE
The scholastic football season is once again upon us and, just like in 2013, both the squads at Bristol Eastern and St. Paul are in action to open up the scholastic campaign.
Bristol Central is sitting out Week 1 but there’s still plenty of action to go around.
First, the Lancers square off at Berlin from Scalise Field in their opening showdown with the Redcoats at 6:30 p.m.
On the local front, St. Paul gets to play under the lights for the first time in a permanent setting as the Falcons tangles with Derby in what always is a close and exciting contest.
Eastern looks to open things up with a win against a squad that truly has become a rival as of late while St. Paul is simply looking break a three-game losing streak against the pesky Red Raiders.
Here’s how Week 1 reads for the locals as the scholastic season commences:
Bristol Eastern (0-0) at Berlin (0-0); CCC Interdivisional action (Division II West vs. Division III East)
Location: at Scalise Field, Berlin
Day and Time: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Last Season: Bristol defeated Berlin, 21-14, from Bristol Eastern back on Sept. 13, 2013.
All-Time Series: The game marks the fifth battle between the programs. The Redcoats lead the all-series 3-1, including a 35-28 Class M semifinal victory over the Lancers on Nov. 30, 2007.
Last year was Eastern’s first win ever against Berlin.
Casual facts…The Berlin football team had an unusually down year in 2013 but don’t expect lightning to strike twice…The Redcoats are a year older and will be better than their 5-6 ledger was last season…Quarterback Mitch Williams (118 completions, 1,572 yards, 16 TDs) is gone and it remains to be seen if someone like senior Alec Norton will pick up the slack at quarterback…Anthony Sisti (64 carries, 415 yards, 9 TDs) should once again lead the squad in their ground game onslaught but that job may have multiple facets to it…Berlin lost only about half-a-dozen seniors from last season’s team so that experienced core should produce right off the bat for the Redcoats…Bristol Eastern quarterback Tommy Curtin is the leader of the offense and expect him to have a tremendous opening season game even if junior QB/running back Alex Hunter is out of action via injury…The preseason injury bug has hit Eastern and if the Lancers are to win this one, someone other than Curtin will have to step up offensively…This is a game that Pete Roche and Joey Hermann may excel in if Eastern challenges the Berlin defense with a couple of deep bombs…This will be a quick challenge for Eastern’s inexperienced line and we’ll all see how the Lancers’ have progressed on that front…Every season, playing Berlin is an epic challenge and this game could go down to the wire before things are said and done.
And the winner is…Berlin will be improved from last season but let’s give the Lancers the nod in this one by a 28-21 final.
St. Paul (0-0) vs. Derby (0-0), Naugatuck Valley League Cooper Division showdown
Location: from St. Paul Catholic high school
Day and Time: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last Season: Derby just snuck by the Falcons by a 49-45 in a wild affair from Derby on Sept. 13, 2013.
All-time NVL series: This is the sixth all-time showdown between the schools. After St. Paul won its first two games against the Red Raiders, Derby has taken the last three contests to snare the series lead at 3-2.
Casual facts: Derby junior Ricky Bartone is a handful on both sides of the ball and if the running back is stopped by the improved St. Paul defense, do not expect a Derby victory…Senior QB Mike Kreiger has been around the block a time or two and can make connections all over the field…Bartone and Kreiger is a duo that must be stopped, or at least slowed down, by the St. Paul defense…This will be a great first test for St. Paul QB Patrick Etter but he’ll have experienced veterans all over the field to help him out…If Etter can find Brendan Carroll, Ben Pryor and Daija Fitzpatrick for some quick connections, Derby is in for a long night of action…Back Eli Parks also should be the man of the hour for the Falcons and if his experienced line can create just a little daylight for the speedster to operate in, fans may get the first glimpse of St. Paul’s effective ground schemes…And in their 2014 debut, expect that line – headlined by the likes of Kyle MacLean and Doug Nessing – to cause major havoc on both sides of the ball…The contest also marks the first evening of ‘Friday Night Lights’ from St. Paul Catholic high school as the lights on the field are installed and ready to go.
And the winner is…The games in these series have been close but this contest won’t be. Expect the Falcons’ defense to come alive in the opening game and that means a big St. Paul victory. The Falcons earn a 42-21 win to break their losing streak against the Red Raiders.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE