SPORTS

Time was right for Centore

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The Rhode Island football community received some big news last week when longtime Cranston East football head coach Tom Centore announced that he would be stepping away from the sidelines.

This was not an easy decision for Centore, who had been wrestling with the idea for a couple of seasons. Although I do not believe he lost his edge as a coach, it does seem that this is the right time to step away. Not the right time as in the team is better off. The right time in that he seems to be at peace with his decision and the team is in a transitional period.

Centore comes from a football family, with his late father Tony being a legendary coach in the state as well. When it is all said and done, Tom will certainly be remembered as a legend in the state and arguably the best coach that East has ever had.

Now, I have only been here for three years, so I have not been able to experience decades of Rhode Island high school football. But, from what I have seen, heard and read, Centore’s programs were always consistent, disciplined, and tough.

Now, the Bolts have had consecutive down seasons in which they have failed to reach the playoffs. This is the worst stretch that Centore has ever had as a coach and he has admitted that these have been the most difficult years that he has faced.

Ultimately, it comes down to youth … the Bolts have had such a young roster over the past two seasons. Like many other schools, they have also seen a dip in numbers thanks to the whole private school situation as well as the pandemic.

More than anything, his decision to step away should boil down to his desire to stick around. He has had a proven product for years, is still highly respected by his players and coaches, and has a lifetime of knowledge and skill as a football mind.

Every team and program goes through its ups and downs, especially at the high school level. The beauty and the curse of coaching at that level is that every four years, the reset button is hit.

Centore seems content in his decision, which is the most important part. In terms of where the team is, despite its record this spring, it was much more competitive than the previous fall. Centore and his staff have provided them with the fundamentals and that foundation, so hopefully whoever steps in will be able to help the team continue to trend in the right direction.

If you were to ask me what would have been in store for this team had Centore stuck around, I would say next year it would win a couple games, then the next season it would be back to being a true playoff factor. This team does have some nice pieces on each side of the ball and has some talent. It really was just missing experience and some size up front. Each of those will improve as the kids get older.

Like I said, there is no doubt in my mind that Centore and his staff would have righted the ship in short order. He’s just too accomplished as a coach not to have.

But, considering that he is ready for a break. Considering that the team is still in the middle of a learning curve. Considering there is still a ripple effect from the pandemic being felt. This seems to be a good time for him to finalize this decision.

Congrats, Tom. Good luck in whatever the future holds.

We’re right in the thick of graduation season which is one of the most exciting times of the years for our locals.

Each year, I like to take a moment to say congrats to all of our kids that are earning their diplomas. As a sports guy, I have to mention the student-athletes in particular.

I say it all the time, but there are few things in this world as difficult as being a student-athlete. Some people scoff at that notion, but I wholeheartedly feel that way.

Between attending school, completing homework assignments, studying for tests, preparing for college applications, working part-time job, and competing in a sport on a daily basis? That’s a lot of work.

Sure, kids are resilient and sports are fun … it’s not like playing a sport is a burden by any means. But my point is that high school and college student-athletes have very little downtime and are constantly being pulled in every which way.

So, for those kids that have completed their four years and have crossed the finished line, congratulations. Regardless of whether or not you play sports, just walking across the stage and being handed that diploma is a huge accomplishment.

For all of our seniors, best of luck moving forward. As for our student-athletes that will be continuing their playing careers at the next level, best of luck and I look forward to seeing what you accomplish. For families of kids that are going to compete in college in the next few years, always keep Beacon Communications in mind. We are always looking to keep up with our locals.

Last thing that I will touch on here.

It looks like the Power Four Division will be no longer in high school football next fall. I like it.

I understand the point … to give every team a chance to compete for a championship and allow the perennial powerhouses like Bishop Hendricken and La Salle to fight amongst themselves.

I like the challenge of a public school trying to upset the private schools. Not to mention the fact that every team’s goal is to win a championship, and for Division I teams, a chance to compete for a state title. It’s easy for me to say that I like the merging of the divisions and the realignment since I am not a coach, player or family member. As an outside looking in, I am actually fine with it.

Let the games begin.

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