Another great season of football


Last weekend’s football state championships wrapped up another fantastic fall sports season, leaving us with just the Thanksgiving exhibitions.

With football being the last sport on the table, I will use this column to wrap up on our teams and how their seasons went.


Not much of a surprise, but Hendricken reclaimed the Division I Super Bowl with a convincing win against North Kingstown.

Hendricken led just 14-7 heading into the final quarter and would score 21 unanswered points to get the win. The sentiment by most people was that this was a close game and the score did not reflect how competitive it was. Wrong, this game was never in doubt for Hendricken.

Sure, there was a second quarter scare. Hendricken was driving with a chance to go into halftime up 14-0, but the Skippers recovered a fumble and broke off a huge touchdown to tie it up. Even at that moment when the Skippers took the momentum, there was no real evidence to suggest that Hendricken was not firmly in control of the game. The Hawks were better in all three phases, excluding that one-minute blip on the radar. Hendricken marched right back down the field to regain the lead less than two minutes later.

The final score was 35-7. That is about what I believe it should have been. The Hendricken offense was carried by the state’s best one-two punch in Ronjai Francis and Oscar Weah and the Skippers had no response. The Hendricken defense came up with four takeaways, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Hendricken was better on special teams, too. The Hawks won the battle for field position from start to finish.

That is not to say that NK laid an egg. The Skipper defense played well in the first half and that second-quarter response was big time. That being said, how can anyone suggest that a game in which Hendricken controlled 47 of the 48 minutes was close? It wasn’t.

The Hawks were young last season, as strange as that sounds. They were led by juniors and sophomores and when La Salle got the win, you could see the inexperience. The Hawks played like a veteran team all season, especially on Sunday. This year’s team may have been the best that I have covered in the past five years.


The Pats got off to a shaky start that would hurt them in the end, as their season ended with a loss to Moses Brown in a win or go home finale.

What Pilgrim did well this year was throw the ball on offense and boast an opportunistic defense. The struggles that the team faced ultimately came down to size. There were times when the Pats struggled to run the ball, and times where they struggled to stop the run, which is tough to overcome at the high school level.

What we learned was that Chace Roberts was the real deal. He has a big arm and spread the ball around the field. Justyn Murphy, Jack Coffey and Cole Bigelli were every bit the dynamic trio that we thought they could be.

Pilgrim was a tough out as well, which sometimes is the toughest pill to swallow. Pilgrim could have beaten Ponaganset, it could have beaten West Warwick, it held a 12-point lead on Moses Brown. It was also in the game with Johnston until the fourth quarter. Pilgrim was 3-4 in league play, but could have easily been 7-0, and that’s not hyperbole. The Pats were in every game they played. You have to give credit to those other teams, though. They made the plays in the end.

Toll Gate

Although the Titans hit the reset button last year when introducing Jim Miceli and his coaching staff, it felt like this year was truly a reset season.

Last year, Miceli and company were trying to clean up the mess. Numbers were down, the roster was unsettled, the culture was fractured. This season, though, you could see that this group was much more unified.

The Titans got back in the win column with a victory over Chariho. As much as multiple wins would have been thrilling, even just getting one was a necessary step in the right direction. Fortunately for Toll Gate, it is not being gutted, either. Many of these kids will be back.

Mason Tanner had a breakout season for Toll Gate after joining the team as a track standout. He’s a senior, so that will be one tough loss.

The culture is back intact, there is a core of players with experience that will be returning. The Titans, realistically, are another year or two away from being true threats in Division III, but I do think we will see another step forward next fall, with a ceiling being a playoff appearance.

Cranston West

The Falcons are one of the prime examples of a good team that came up short solely in the numbers game. They are also the reason why I am for a six-team Division I moving forward.

West missed the playoffs, but was a team that absolutely should have had a chance to play a postseason. Kelan Cornell, Jack Majcher, David Boscia were a great trio on offense, while Adrian Samayoa was a cornerstone piece on defense, along with Majcher in the backfield. There was enough talent on this team, and the Falcons showed enough to prove that they were playoff-worthy. Division II was absolutely loaded this year, which is the problem.

We can’t totally let West off the hook. The Falcons dropped a close one against St. Ray’s and were blown out against Cumberland and Mt. Pleasant late in the regular season. I am certainly not trying to say that the Falcons were elite.

But, if your team is good, you should be in the playoffs, and West was good.

Barrington and Cumberland separated themselves from the pack and squared off in the Super Bowl. Either of those teams would have been competitive in Division I, and had they been placed in that group, West would have made it. Please, let’s expand the top division a bit.

Cranston East

My favorite game of the fall came when the Thunderbolts won their first league game in five years, and like Toll Gate, this season was all about progress. Wins were going to be tough to come by as a rebuilding program, so any progress would be welcomed, and East made plenty of progress down the stretch.

The Bolts beat Shea then played a competitive game against Portsmouth, who snuck into the playoffs. East also played a close game against Mt. Pleasant, and went toe-to-toe with eventual champ Barrington in a game that was competitive for two quarters. East was about as good as a one-win team could be.

The Bolts will have plenty coming back next season, including guys like Saqari Monroe, Angel Figueroa, Armand Northup-Reed and Dionandre Brown. Will the Bolts be competing for a Super Bowl? No, but they will be firmly in the mix for a playoff spot.


The Panthers flew under the radar heading into the season, but the chatter coming from the locker room was this was a championship-caliber team, and despite losing in the semis, they proved they were among the Division III elite.

Matt Clements held up his end of the bargain as the starting quarterback while Steven Finegan, NeAri Vasquez, Dean Paris and Michael Carlino proved to be the division’s best skill position group. The defense, although not stellar, improved as the season wore on as well and certainly did its part in the semifinal loss to eventual champion Middletown.

The Panthers went toe-to-toe with the Islanders and had a chance to win it. Had Johnston won, it absolutely would have been right there with West Warwick in the Super Bowl. In the end though, sometimes it comes down to one or two plays and that’s what happened in Middletown.

The Panthers will be losing quite the core next season. Clements and Paris will return, so there should be enough for Johnston to stay in the playoff mix. It will be interesting to see if there will be enough firepower to get back into contendership.

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