The 2018 state champion Bishop Hendricken football team is getting set to defend its title and to further cement its place as the top program in the state.
The Hawks have won eight of the past nine titles, however, remain hungry as they enter the 2019 campaign. Last season, Hendricken was coming off a surprising state championship loss to La Salle.
“(The storyline) is a little different but every year it’s relatively the same. The kids worked hard during the offseason and we’re beginning to see it all come together. I think they’re motivated, but like everything at this time of the year, it’s a work in progress. We have some new players, new positions, so we’ll see how the roster shakes out,” said head coach Keith Croft, who has already put last season behind him. “You put (last year) in the rear view by motivating them to work hard over the summer and by letting them know that no position is guaranteed. We return a lot of good players, there are a lot of good players in Rhode Island and we’ve got a really tough stretch to open up the regular season.”
Like every season, the Hawks experienced some roster turnover and will be relying on some fresh faces to step up and fill the void left by the graduated seniors. The Hawks graduated seniors such as Xavier Truss, Israel Emmanuel, Will Tuttle, Carl Greene and a handful of others.
“We lost a lot, we lost a really good senior class. But that’s been typical for us the past few years. It gives some of the younger guys the chance to earn a role and get more playing time,” said Croft, who emphasized the importance of earning every rep. “That’s how we like it, we want our guys to earn their positions, not just based on class and seniority but by working hard and learning how we do things.”
One of the key returners for the Hawks is quarterback Tom Comella, who enters his senior season and third year as the Hawks’ starter.
“I’m ready, this is my third year starting and I want to help the other guys get comfortable as well. I’m glad that we (have the pressure) and that we’ll get every team’s best effort. We want to play motivated and strong and I think that it will help having that (target) on our backs this year. We have big potential, so we need all 11 of us and we need to all do our part in order to be successful,” said Comella.
The Hawks will once again be the team to beat heading into 2019, but they embrace the challenge and hope to remain focus each week as they seek to win their 15th championship.
“We talk about it, but it’s about being able to compartmentalize and focus on one game each week. Right now, we’re focused on Moses Brown and then the injury fund game. You have to win pretty much all of your league games; every game is like a playoff game. Overall, it’s the same as every year, we want a good, physical football team,” said Kroft.
“We have the same motivation. We have some new guys, so we’re working on (developing) that chemistry, them learning the plays,” added Comella. “We have the same motivation and the same goal. We have a really great group of leaders here, especially in our junior and senior class. I think we’re all ready to step up.”