TAKING A LOOK: Bristol Central football

Jeff Papazian is two games into his second season as Bristol Central’s head football coach, and there are some things to like about his 1-1 squad.
“We like the energy, we like the enthusiasm, we like the competitiveness our guys have played with,” Papazian said after practice earlier this week at the school.
It’s a youthful energy and enthusiasm for the Rams, who start five sophomores — Isaiah Miller (WR/DB), Mike Guzman (OL/LB), Dathan Hickey (CB), Alex Lape (OL/DL) and Gabe Updegraff (OL/DL). Central is either very experienced or very green, depending on the position, according to Papazian. There are a bunch of sophomores who play both ways.
“We’re throwing our young kids in the fire, and they’re getting a lot of time on top of it,” Papazian said.
There’s also the steady leadership of seniors Josh Moxam (four-year starter), Krzysztof Nizielski (three-year starter) and Noah Cruz (two-year starter). Cruz has assumed a leadership role since he joined the team last year following his transfer from Xavier High School in Middletown.
Papazian knows what he will get from seniors like Moxam, Nizielski and Cruz, but the play of his sophomores is big as Central moves forward through the season.
“They’re learning, and their development over the course of the season will be key for us,” Papazian said.
The Rams began the year with a hard-fought 26-12 loss at Muzzy Field to Windsor, which won the Class L-Small state championship last season. Miller put Central ahead 6-0 on a 29-yard touchdown run, but the Warriors scored 20 straight points for a 20-6 lead. Cruz scored from a yard out to pull the Rams to within 20-12, but it wasn’t meant to be as the Warriors added a late score.
Central beat South Windsor 33-8 last Saturday at Muzzy in an ugly, penalty-ridden contest.
“After Saturday, we need to clean up our penalties, and we need to have a little better focus, both in practice and in games,” Papazian said.
Papazian said that is on both players and coaches.
“We all need to be better Monday through Thursday,” Papazian said.
On the plus side, Cruz, a dual threat to run and pass, ran for three scores, including two in the first half. Junior running back Luis Medina had two rushing touchdowns.
Papazian was actually happier with the overall effort from his team in the Windsor game.
“If we can get that Week 1 team to keep showing up, we should be competitive,” Papazian said.
Central hits the road for the first time this season tomorrow when it goes to Falcon Field in Meriden to take on Platt. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. The Rams then return home on Oct. 2 for a game against CCC contender Wethersfield at 7 p.m. at Muzzy.