By MICHAEL LETENDRE
It’s another big week of scholastic football for the city of Bristol as a local squad continue the push for a state tournament berth.
The Falcons of St. Paul Catholic are going for win number five against a Woodland squad that has yet to taste a victory in 2016.
And then from Muzzy Field on Friday, Bristol Central’s game of the week as Edwin O. Smith comes to Bristol for a CCC Division II tilt.
That contest commences at 6 p.m. and finally, Bristol Eastern looks to play a little spoiler on Saturday when the team travels to South Windsor for an interdivisional contest on the road.
There’s a ton at stake this week and here’s the deal on all three scholastic games:
Bristol Central (3-3) vs. Edwin O. Smith (3-3); CCC Division II contest
Location: from Muzzy Field, Bristol
Day and Time: Friday, 6 p.m. (all opponents of E.O. play at 6 p.m.)
Last Season: The Rams turned away the Panthers (the school has a Thundercats logo if you remember the cartoon from back in the day…) 14-0 from Storrs back on Oct. 30, 2015.
All-Times Series: Central has never lost to Edwin O. Smith, posting a 6-0 ledger against the squad.
Last Week: Central fell to Maloney 34-27 while Smith – like every other team to date – fell to Windsor 21-0.
Series history versus ‘the Smithers’: My in-laws are E.O. “Smithers” – a school more known for its soccer prowess than anything. The squad’s 0-6 against Central speaks volumes to that very fact.
Casual Facts: This Smith squad could be a challenge because the quarterback, senior Ryan Kaeser who – through five games this season – was just off the pace for a 1,000 yard season…He starts the whole offense and entering the contest this past weekend, he had yet to throw an interception (7 TDs, 0 INTs)…Kaeser is second on the squad in rushing yardage behind back Isaiah Rivera who has six touchdowns on the season…Kaeser’s favorite targets have been Tommy Pavliscsak, Rondell Bothroyd, and Kobe Stigler and all three of those receivers have touchdown receptions this year…The balance offensively for Smith is impressive and Central must be wary on all fronts…Defensively, well, Smith has beaten the teams it should have and lost to the better squads so the Panthers have only taken advantage of the weaker squads in the CCC, Division II action…However, the combined records of the squads Smith had defeated has three combined wins. Get it?…Central certainly has the ability to run the football down the Panthers’ throat and you should expect a heavy dose of Luis Medina and QB Isaiah Miller – a duo who have a combined 10 rushing touchdowns…Defensively, this game is a real chance for the Central to shine…That’s the key ingredient this season and if the Central secondary can keep Smith in check, this contest is certainly a winnable one.
And the winner is…It’s Central folks and this game is my lock of the week. The Rams defeat the Panthers 28-14.
Bristol Eastern (0-6) at South Windsor (3-3); CCC Division II tilt
Location: at Bobcat Field, South Windsor
Day and Time: Saturday, 11 a.m. (Note the day and time of the special Saturday challenge).
Last Season’s Game: Eastern let that contest slip away back on Oct. 30, 2015 when the Bobcats snuck out of Bristol with a 25-21 victory.
All-Time Series: It’s the ninth game of the series between the programs and Eastern has the lead in this one. The Lancers are 5-2-1 against South Windsor.
Last Week: South Windsor dropped the contest to Hartford Public 28-7 (what?!?) while Eastern fell to Newington 27-7.
Casual facts…South Windsor is legit and the only bad loss on the schedule was a 37-14 setback to Middletown on Sept. 23…No worries, Windsor is on the schedule to start the month of November and will change that…But the Bobcats have an excellent throwing game and while the squad might dump the ball off for several short gains, it’s yards after the catch where a team like South Windsor excels that. That’s the challenge of the week for the Lancers…South Windsor QB Connor Kapisak is a lanky fellow who has about 1,000 yards on the season – and counting…Again, he might not air it out like Tom Brady but a little pass here and a little completion there helps to move the chains…He’s not going to run all over the field and, as Bristol Central showed during its 20-14 loss to the squad on Week 2, you can get to the quarterback for sacks (something Eastern has not yet done to any QB this season)…A couple seniors, Mike Foley and Connor Dunn, are Kapisak’s favorite targets so there won’t be any surprises that morning…Julian Ibes will run with the ball a bit, as will Dunn, but if the Lancers’ secondary is up to the task, Eastern has a chance in this showdown…South Windsor did a nice job making adjustments at the half to turn that scoreless game against Central around – scoring 20 straight points to take the game…The Bobcats’ defense did a credible job in stuffing Central’s running game that day and Eastern will need to use its blocking to get through that big defensive line…Eastern quarterback Justin Marshall is a tough kid and the sophomore will no doubt attempt to smash his way up the middle for yardage against the Bobcats…But will Marshall and company push the South Windsor secondary for a couple long bombs? It might not be a bad idea…Airing the ball out to the likes of Mikey Barrett and Jaden Laprise could be effective…Let’s be honest, this contest is going to be a challenge for both the Eastern offense and the Lancers’ secondary but with the improvements we’ve seen on a weekly basis by the locals, let’s see how this one plays out in South Windsor…Anything is possible this Saturday.
And the winner is…The Bobcats are home and zip up a 35-13 win.
St. Paul (4-2) at Woodland (0-6); Naugatuck Valley League contest
Location: at the Woodland Football Field, Beacon Falls
Day and Time: Friday, 6:30 p.m. (Again, get through 84 West for the early game…).
Last Season’s Game: The Greyhounds were not on the Falcons schedule in 2015.
Last Week: It was a bye week for both the St. Paul Catholic and Woodland football programs.
All-Time Series: This is the seventh battle between the foes. Woodland leads the all-time series 5-1.
Series Fact: After the Falcons won the first game between the schools by a 28-27 count in 2009, the Greyhounds have won five straight. Over those five wins, Woodland hasn’t scored fewer than 27 points in any of those games.
Casual facts…Woodland is down, big time, and the Falcons’ running game should be in full force against the squad…Over the past three weeks, the Greyhounds have hoisted up just 20 points in three blowout losses…But this one is about St. Paul Catholic…Health is an issue for the Falcons as Pierce Piana was injured before the Ansonia game last week and it should be interesting to see if he’s back for the challenge at Woodland…But let’s be honest. Even off that 42-6 loss to Ansonia, there’s not one squad in the NVL who’s going to challenge the Chargers so it’s a lesson learned and the Falcons’ program quickly moved on…And the Falcons’ got its running game going towards the end of the Ansonia contest and after a week off, Woodland is in for a rushing nightmare…St. Paul Catholic has nearly 1,800 yards in rushing offense this season and expect that number to continue to climb as the squad will simply overwhelm the Greyhounds’ young defense…Damien Rabis should be the key cog in this week’s offensive schemes and we saw a ton out of sophomore Connor Bogdanski against the Chargers and, should Piana miss time with his injury, expect the youngster to get more than a couple more additional carries at Woodland…It’s time for the St. Paul Catholic defense to get back to work and this is the perfect game to do it in…In terms of playoff positioning, a win against Woodland won’t net the Falcons any bonus points but – along the trail to the state tournament – every win is a big one.