By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – With a new coach in tow for the Bristol Central football team, should we expect some different things out of the Rams this season?
Probably not as Central’s squad was nearly a .500 team for most of the last three seasons though their overall record never bore that fact out.
True, the Rams will have to replace a huge running component (Tyler Burrow) and a pretty nifty chucker at quarterback (Jarrett Michaels) so Central knows it has holes to fill.
But Central should have the tools this season to be more than competitive this year.
Here’s a look at what should be expected:
Head Coach: Jeff Papazian (first season).
Last Year: 4-6 overall (1-4 in Division II-West play).
Strength: Senior leadership
Weakness: Depth, experience
Key Losses: Tyler Burrow (TB, All Conference); Nate Hamm (RB/DB); Jarrett Michaels (QB);Taylor DeForge (QB/DB); Kevin Boi (TE/LB); Tyler Whitten (TE); Keon Walton (SE); Cody McQuarrie (C); Christian Hildebrand (LB); Austin Rollins (OL/DL); Bobby Jaccques (OL/DL).
Players on the squad: Caleb Hildebrand (sr., WR/LB); Drew Lee (sr., WR/DB); Jacob Hall (sr., OL/DL); Josh Moxam (jr., All Conference, OL/DL); D’Andre Conaway (sr., RB/DB); Harry Patten (sr., WR/LB); Franco Patria (sr., WR/DB); Jordan Meisinger (sr., OL/DL); Justin Scott (sr., WR/DB); Alex Milosevic (sr., OL/DL); Quentin Blackwood (sr., OL/DL); Jack Thomasen (sr., OL/DL); Zachary Jacobs (sr., OL/DL); Collin Newman (sr., WR/DB); Noah Cruz (jr., QB/LB); Cody Hildebrand (so., QB/LB); Adam Flores (sr., OL/DL); Kemani Richards (so., WR/DB); Kenny Patrick (so., QB/DB); Joe Wosilis (so., WR/DB); JJ Quiles (jr., RB/DB); Tyshaun Rodriguez (jr., WR/DB); Tyler Boi (jr., WR/DL); Michael Paloka (so., WR/DB); Jaavon Gordon (sr., WR/DB); Jeremey Ganavage (so., WR/LB); Kevin Diaz (so., RB/LB); Cole Staples (so., WR/DB); Luis Medina (so., RB/DB); Brett Scully (so., WR/LB); Julian Galindez (jr., WR/LB); Connor Staubley (so., WR/DL); Devon Madigan (so., OL/LB); Daymond Mimms (so., OL/DL); Scott Larson (so., OL/DL); Anthony Ross (so., OL/DL); Lateef Stevensen (jr., OL/DL); Krzysztof Nizielski (jr., OL/DL); Ed Perkowski (so., OL/DL); Tom Nelligan (so., OL/DL); .
Analysis: Coming off a four-win season, the Bristol Central football team is looking at another rebuilding campaign?
With the squad’s top running back and quarterback graduated through the program, the Rams might very well be rebuilding in 2014.
But this squad has some ability, has some skill and experience on the defensive end at some positions, and a run at .500 isn’t out of the cards this season.
Tyler Burrow (1,300 yards off 202 carries, 14 TDs) and quarterback Jarrett Michaels (51 passes, 740 yards, six TDs) aren’t easily replaced and the duo certainly led the offensive charge last year.
There are some offensive weapons on this Rams’ squad that will do some damage out on the field.
At running back, senior D’Andre Conaway could be in for a big season and improve on his solid numbers from 2013.
He showed ability in Central’s ground schemes last season as he piled up 111 yards off 26 drives, leading to two touchdowns.
Conaway is a crafty back and certainly will make an impact on this squad and it will up to those other senior components to lead the charge this year.
Central will have a couple of options at quarterback as well but the Rams will turn to a junior by the name of Noah Cruz.
He’ll see his first snaps at the varsity level for the Rams this year and it will be fun to watch him grow along with the rest of the squad on a weekly basis.
Sophomores Cody Hildebrand and Kenny Patrick also could factor into the mix at QB.
Senior Caleb Hildebrand should be one of the featured players on the squad and will be a force in the defensive packages for Central at middle linebacker.
He’ll also see time at wide receiver as well.
Drew Lee (13 receptions, 137 yards, team best 2 TDs) is a senior who should make connections with whoever is throwing the ball while senior Harrison Patterson also might catch a pass or two this season.
Senior Franco Patria (wide receiver) also will factor in Central’s offensive schemes.
Defense should be the Rams’ meal ticket in 2014 and that will certainly include those contributions from Hildebrand.
Central should be stacked at defensive end with the likes of all conference stud, junior Josh Moxam, and senior Jacob Hall.
Moxam has seemingly played forever for the Rams and is a veteran presence Central will turn to.
Junior Deion Francis adds depth at the end position while senior Quentin Blackwood is the squad’s center but will spend time at defensive tackle as well.
Senior Jordan Meisinger mans one of the tackle positions while senior Jack Thomasen will take the line at guard.
Senior Zach Jacobs is going to be a big option in the defensive schemes while juniors Krzysztof Nizielski and Julian Galindez will factor in as linebackers.
That’s the core of the squad and it will be up to that core group to lead the charge this season.
Division II-West Outlook: The league is stacked with the likes of Windsor and Middletown so any discussions about the CCC, Division II-West starts with those two squads.
Both those teams have speed, power, depth, and the experience to boot.
And then there’s Bristol Eastern, which also returns several weapons up front. Although Farmington has lost a couple of key performers, the squad might be in the middle of the pack as well.
Maloney won only once last season and – also with a new coach at the helm – will only get better as the year progresses.
However, Central should be better than the Spartans and will have a chance to top the Indians in what could be an excellent battle.
Don’t overlook the Rams but more than a few warriors out of this group will have to excel if Central expects a .500 campaign in 2014.
While the Lancers will play all of their home games from the campus of Bristol Eastern, the Rams continue to call Muzzy Field home.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE