Falcons emerge as real threat in DII


I  had the pleasure of covering Cranston West football take on visiting East Providence last Friday night for the team’s homecoming celebration. It was a huge Division II matchup that certainly lived up to the hype.

I was excited for this one because I considered it to be a true measuring stick game for the Falcons.

West was a tough team to gauge through the first four weeks. The Falcons lost a tough one against Division III West Warwick, but then turned around to beat up Burrillville. Then, in week three, St. Ray’s would get the better of the Falcons in a shutout win.

East Providence was one of the most hyped teams heading into the season and got off to a solid start. West was considered the underdog heading into the matchup, but this was a winnable game and would serve as a real test for where it stood.

Well, the Falcons took a 28-0 lead at halftime and punched the Townies in the mouth. EP scored 22 unanswered points to make things interesting late in the game, but West would regroup and hold on to the win.

My biggest takeaway from this win is that West football is officially back.

Now, do I mean back as in it’s the favorite to win the Division II Super Bowl? Not quite yet, but I do believe that West proved with that performance that it will have a chance to beat any Division II team it faces, and at the end of the day, that is all you can really ask from a team … have a chance week in, week out.

I have been saying all season that Marcus Chung is the most underrated player in the entire state and he proved me right with a three-touchdown day. He may not be underrated much longer with that outing. Quarterback Kelan Cornell was sharp, as was running back Dimitri LeBlanc. The line dominated on both sides of the ball. It was a complete win for West.

The Falcons have a grueling schedule the rest of the way, starting with Hendricken this Friday night. West though, should feel great after that statement win. I have a feeling that the Falcons may finish the season as a true contender for the Division II title.

Perhaps the biggest story in professional sports this past week was the NFL’s continued handling of concussions and the protocols in place to protect its players when they suffer from head injuries.

Two weeks ago, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took a hard hit to the head during a game and left briefly to be looked at by doctors. When looking at the replays and his body language during the ensuing minutes, it was quite apparent that he sustained a concussion. Hard hit to the head, a little wobbly walking back to the sideline, dazed look on his face, the whole nine.

However, after a few minutes he returned to action, much to the surprise of everyone watching. He then turned around to play on Thursday night. In the second quarter of the game, he took another big hit, had his head slam the turf, and wound up being stretchered off and in the hospital. He was obviously diagnosed with a concussion later that night and will be out for the foreseeable future.

The NFL received a ton of heat, as did the Dolphins. For nearly two decades now, concussions have been one of the most controversial topics regarding pro football and the debate has since reached all the way to the youth level for all contact sports. Head injuries are no longer brushed off, they are no longer just referred to as “dingers’’ and shaken off. Head injuries are treated extremely carefully, as they should be.

Still, the NFL and its teams struggle to be consistent on this issue. When saying that concussions are taken seriously, I meant compared to back in the day when concussions were treated as just a doink on the head. Although the protocols are as strict as they have ever been, there is still progress to be made and this whole Tagovailoa situation is a nightmare for the league.

I think that this serves as an important reminder for sports leagues everywhere, whether it be professional, college, high school or youth. The lesson in my opinion is, these teams and doctors need to know when to step in and simply tell the athlete “no”.

Athletes, by nature, are competitive and passionate. They almost always want to play even if they do not feel 100 percent healthy in doing so. I am all for listening to your players and giving them the chance to be warriors, but at the same time, athletes need to be saved from themselves from time to time.

Now, with the Tagovailoa situation, it is especially on the Dolphins because it seems that it was not as simple as them taking Tua at his word, but it seemed like they encouraged him to get back out there because they wanted to win. Maybe that is unfair of me to speculate, but that’s just how it seemed on the surface as an outsider.

For our local doctors and coaches, I’d recommend using this debacle as a reminder that sometimes it is up to the powers at be to override the athlete. Even if the athlete insists that he or she is fine, that they can get back out there, if you suspect that they may have sustained an injury especially as significant as a concussion, don’t even risk it. Missing a game or two is a far better solution than pushing through and exacerbating the ailment even worse.

Pitch, column


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