The Bishop Hendricken football team edged Central 14-8 in a tightly-contested battle on Monday evening to stay undefeated in league play this fall.
The Hawks have not lost a game to a public school in nine seasons and it looked like the visiting Knights were on their way to doing just that with Hendricken trailing with less than two minutes remaining in regulation.
Sure enough, Hendricken quarterback David Lynch marched the offense down the field and led the team to a win with seven seconds remaining.
In the three-plus years that I have been in Rhode Island, a regular topic of conversation is what to do with the Hendricken and La Salle football teams.
As you all know, these two clubs have dominated the state over the past decade and really have been untested, excluding their head to head matchups and the occasional close game against teams like Central, North Kingstown and so on.
Some local fans believe that the Hawks and Rams should not be allowed to face public schools, some believe that they should only face a select few teams, some believe they should not even be in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League at all. I have heard it all at this point.
I have said this before and I will say it now … there will be a day that a public school breaks through and takes over. When will that be? Who knows. But I promise, at some point, a public school team will do it.
I get it, it has been nine years since it has happened and regardless of how close Monday’s game was, Hendricken still got the win. Don’t get me wrong, either, it’s not like I am rooting against the Hawks. I am just a firm believer that every great run ends at some point.
I understand why people get so outraged with the whole private versus public school debate. I get it, I really do. But at the end of the day, Bishop Hendricken is a Rhode Island school and in my opinion, should be allowed to face other Rhode Island teams and not have to bend over backwards to appease every person with a complaint.
North Kingstown led the Hawks by 14 points at halftime in their game last season. The Skippers also came within arms reach the year before of pulling off the upset. Central had a chance with under a minute left on Monday. Not that the list is very long of times a public school has almost pulled off the upset, but my point is that it will happen at some point.
Unfortunately, moving forward for the rest of the state, I am sure that Hendricken is going to bring its best after nearly dropping the game which would have been a potential eliminator for the state championship. Central is one of the best five teams in the state at the moment, and Hendricken took its best shot and got it done.
Hendricken has had a brutal schedule to this point, facing two out of state powerhouse programs and then a team like Central. It’s been tough sledding and we’ve seen Hendricken have more downs than we’re used to.
However, the Hawks are now fully back in the Rhode Island portion of their schedule and will shift their entire focus toward winning another state championship. The Hawks will bring their best after the close call on Monday, but believe me when I say that a public school team will get it done.
This all leads me to my next point which I have also harped on in the past, but feel I need to bring it up again.
I really can’t stand the state’s playoff format in which it has one state championship game and then separate playoff brackets for each division.
The entire point of this system is to essentially allow Hendricken and La Salle to play one another since it has become a borderline given that it will come down to those two anyway, while letting all the other divisions duke it out for a Super Bowl title.
I just hate the system for so many reasons.
First off, I don’t like how we don’t get to see the Hawks and Rams, or whoever makes it to the game, go on an actual playoff run. You want to see a public school team pull off the upset? Then don’t eliminate them from getting the chance to. Whoever the Hawks face in the playoffs would be a tough team.
The other thing that I hate about it is that the margin for error is basically zero. With the loss to the Hawks, the Knights are all but eliminated for a chance at the state championship. They lost to South Kingstown as well, but in my opinion, losing two games against top-tier competition shouldn’t eliminate you from a chance to make a run. Maybe I am being too nice?
I think the best option is to simply have division Super Bowls and place Hendricken and La Salle in Division I. The twist I would make though would be to switch up the seeding matchups.
Traditionally, the top seed faces the lowest seed, the second seed takes on the second to lowest and so on. Maybe, in this fantasyland scenario, have four teams make the playoffs in Division I and have the first and second seeds face each other with the third and fourth seeds in the other game. Then have the winners battle in the Super Bowl.
I also wouldn’t mind an NFL-like format of having six teams with the top two clubs getting byes, or even the bottom two getting byes. I know that that would kind of punish the top teams for playing well, but is that really much more unusual than just selecting two teams to forego the playoffs and take a direct flight to the big game?
Now I am just rambling, but overall, I feel that the current playoff format is a bit messy. Not messy, but imperfect, flawed.
My original point, though, is that although Monday did not give us the answer as to when a public school team will take over, it at least showed that it will happen eventually.
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