Initial thoughts after first week


We are through the first week of the fall sports season, and although that is not nearly enough time to truly gauge where our teams are at, it at least give us a brief glimpse and I am always excited to evaluate from the sidelines.

Here are some of the takeaways that I have gathered through a week of action:

For football, a few of our teams have a few things to figure out.

Pilgrim got beat 47-0 by East Providence in its non-league season opener. The Pats were playing up a division on the road, so a loss was not shocking, but 47-0 does indicate that there are a few things that need to be settled.

From watching on the sidelines, it seemed like Pilgrim was on the right track but would get in its way when the drive was at the make-or-break point. Quarterback Chace Roberts looked the part as he did in his moments of play last season as a backup. He has a good arm, is athletic, can make accurate throws all around the field. There were times where he and the team was rolling along and slinging it, but then, something would happen. A sack, a miscommunication, a missed opportunity.

Pilgrim had a lot of turnover this season and we are seeing the Pats working through some early season woes. Again, there were some things to like despite the 47-point loss, but Pilgrim needs to find its footing.

Similarly, very similarly in fact, Johnston fell to Lincoln 40-14 and is rebuilding. The Panthers defense had a strong first half and shut down the Lions, they looked to be in midseason form.

The offense struggled all night, but had a glimpse of hope when quarterback Neari Vasquez threw a gorgeous touchdown in the second quarter to give the Panthers the halftime lead.

But that all changed in the second half when Lincoln committed to rushing the ball and scored at will, all while the Johnston offense could not move the chains. It was totally shut down for the final 24 minutes of action.

The Panthers graduated their quarterback and top wide receiver from last season. The defense showed enough in the first half to feel OK about, but the offense needs to find answers.

As I write this, I realize that it is becoming a theme that a few of our teams are having issues offensively, because the Cranston East football team also struggled against Coventry in its opener. The final score was 38-12, but the Bolts did not score their points on offense.

The East offense is a bit more experienced than the previous teams mentioned. It has largely the same core as last season and when you watch them compete, the athleticism and speed is apparent. The Bolts should be able to put up some points.

On the flipside, despite the points scored, the Bolts made some plays on defense with Naz Milien’s pick-six and the team also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.

Overall, if you have talent as East does, you will find ways to compete. It was the first game of the season against a very good Coventry team, so it’s not time to hit the panic button or to think that East has insurmountable issues. The splash plays that were made are a great sign, but once again, the offense needs to spread its wings because there is so much skill on that side of the ball.

The Pilgrim girls soccer team beat La Salle 3-1 in the opener, and just like that, it is back on top for another season.

It really is impressive how deep and talented this program is perennially. For a public school team, it is almost unheard of, there are maybe one of two other teams that are on that level.

Pilgrim graduated its star goalie and its top two offensive weapons from last season. Doesn’t matter, there is a new crop of girls that is clearly ready to pick up right where they left off.

We knew that this team would be competitive and a contender, but to beat La Salle on the road by two goals? Impressive.

One thing that a number of Warwick residents have spoken to me about since I have been to Rhode Island is the lack of youth sports programs available within the city. There are the obvious ones like baseball, football and soccer. And wouldn’t you know, those are the teams that are successful most years in the city. Look at the Pilgrim and Toll Gate girls soccer teams … some of the best public school programs in the state and of course, most of the girls come from Warwick Firefighters. Just something to think about.

I also covered the Pilgrim-Toll Gate field hockey team and my biggest takeaway was that Pilgrim appears to be back after going 6-9 last season.

Toll Gate is young and rebuilding, so a 3-0 win for the Pats doesn’t all of a sudden move the needle to championship-level, but the team did seem to play with poise and confidence that it did not have last year.

Not that 6-9 is bad by any means, but for Pilgrim’s standards, it’s a down year. Elizabeth Cavanagh returns with a few other strong assets. I think we are about to see a nice bounce back year for the Pats.

Speaking of bounce back years, it seems like through two games that the Cranston East boys soccer team is back to being a contender.

Last season, the team saw five of its starters injured at once and the team was essentially a .500 club and limped into the playoffs where it was eliminated early.

This year, although there was some turnover, the team is healthy and confident and won its first two games by a combined score of 4-1.

I covered a late season game of theirs against West Warwick last year and it was not pretty. It was a close game, but the Bolts were in their own head, lacked composure, and saw the game slip away late. Well, they just beat West Warwick 1-0 to improve to 2-0. That’s a good sign.

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