Midseason takeaways for our football squads


We are officially in the second half of the high school football regular season, and it has been an interesting one, for sure.

So far, my biggest takeaway has been that I have loved the results of the realignment. I was skeptical at first, but have grown to be a fan considering Divisions 2-4 are all extremely competitive and have yet to see a true favorite emerge. The level of competition throughout has been tremendous.

Hard to believe that we only have three weeks remaining in the regular season. These three weeks will be massive when determining playoff seedings. This is my fifth football season in Rhode Island, and I would also consider it to be the most interesting so far.

Here are my thoughts on our six teams as we enter the home stretch:


The Hawks are the Hawks. I hate to be basic, but until the champs get dethroned, there is not much to chew on here.

Hendricken is unbeaten against state opponents and went 1-2 in its three out of state matchups. Not to toot my own horn, but so far, things have gone exactly as I predicted in my preseason predictions.

North Kingstown proved to be a real test for the Hawks, and Cranston West held a halftime lead last Friday. Hendricken has not been an unstoppable force despite being unbeaten.

However, if we recall last fall, it was around this time of the schedule that people started counting the Hawks out and predicted their downfall. Well, Hendricken continued to battle and wound up winning another title. Things seem to be going right on schedule for Hendricken.

Oscar Weah and Ronjai Francis have excelled rushing the ball behind the state’s best offensive line. The defense has been fantastic as well.


The Pats have had a tough go this fall season. Pilgrim was certainly bracing for a rebuild this season after graduating a large senior core which included its starting quarterback, running back and top receiver.

It has not been all bad for Pilgrim. The Pats beat Mt. Hope on the road for its lone win this year, but also went toe to toe with West Warwick, which has been arguably the best team in Division III to this point. Pilgrim was in position to win that game when it led at halftime, but the Wizards just did a little more down the stretch.

Since then, the Pats fell to Ponaganset and then just took a tough loss to Narragansett.

Where does Pilgrim go from here?

Well, luckily, the roster is very young. Quarterback Carter Clifton is a sophomore, while the receiving core and defensive secondary is filled with juniors and sophomores. The fact that Pilgrim has competed in a few of these games has actually been impressive considering how few seniors there are.

Although getting back into the championship mix will be tough this fall, Pilgrim’s youngsters have gained some valuable experience and have tasted both success and failure. I know that moral victories are never satisfying, but the Pats have built a foundation this year and I believe that next year we will see a bounce back campaign, with the season after being even better.

Toll Gate

Well, what we kind of feared happening to Toll Gate has come to fruition this fall season.

The Titans had a rough 2021 and brought in a new coaching staff, all while having a young roster. Toll Gate was bumped up to DIII last fall which turned out to be a tough transition, and the team actually had more to work with last fall than it does this time around.

We expected a down season, we figured it would be tough sledding in the early going. Our hope was that we’d see progress and potentially a win or two.

To this point, Toll Gate has lost each game and has yet to be truly competitive.

Patience is important with this program. It is in total rebuild mode from top to bottom. Some schools need to rebuild their roster, some need to rebuild their coaching staff, some need to rebuild their culture, some need to rehabilitate their image and regain their respect. Toll Gate needs all of the above.

New coach Jim Miceli recognizes this and has preached patience every step of the way. Toll Gate fans have been frustrated this fall, understandably, but I do urge them to buy into Miceli and his program. He’s an established vet that has a handle on where the team stands and what it needs. Miceli has said multiple times now, that this is going to be a multi-year rebuild … it isn’t about this fall or even next.

I think in these final three weeks, what we should expect from this team is improvement and maybe one or two competitive games. Wins may not be attainable this fall, but if the Titans can take a step forward and show some level of improved play, then we should take it.

Cranston West

The Falcons have been our most interesting team to this point, if you ask me anyway.

West was coming into this fall off two losing seasons, and this was supposed to be its comeback. After the first three weeks, it seemed like West was on the brink of another down season. West Warwick pulled off a huge comeback win in the opener, St. Ray’s rolled to a 23-0 shutout. The Falcons seemed to be behind schedule which was concerning.

Since then, West beat East Providence in a pivotal division matchup and then forced Hendricken to play all four quarters to beat them this past weekend. Hendricken has been the best team in the state for the past decade, and West nearly pulled off the upset and looked like it belonged from start to finish.

West is a contender in Division II, these last two weeks proved it. The Falcons simply needed to gain some traction and to get the ball rolling, and it appears that they have done just that these past two weeks.

Kelan Cornell has been fantastic under center, Marcus Chung and Dimitri LeBlanc have been one of the best rushing duos in the state. The line has been improving, and West has been getting splash plays on defense and special teams. Hudson Carvalho just had a career day against the Hawks. West is clicking.

Between West, St. Ray’s, Cumberland, Woonsocket, South Kingstown, Barrington, Westerly, East Providence, Division II is a dogfight. I think West is ready for it.

Cranston East

On the bright side, the Bolts have been competitive in nearly every game they’ve been in this season and nearly pulled off a win against a very tough Woonsocket team this past weekend. The downside is that East has yet to pull off a win.

The offense has been every bit as explosive as we expected with Da’Qwon Foster, Naz Milien and A’driahn Foreman. East put up 33 points against Barrington then 24 points against Woonsocket.

Defensively, East is still looking for answers, and it also needs to figure out how to close out games. The Bolts could have beat both Barrington and Woonsocket these past two weeks. Had East pulled it off, it would be in that mix of contenders in Division II.

We expected improvement this fall, and despite the record, have gotten it from East. The next step is the hardest to take, though, which is getting the W’s.


The Panthers were another team that was facing a rebuild after graduating its quarterback, top receiver and middle linebacker from last fall.

It has been a mixed bag for the Panthers. They have been blown out, lost close games, and they finally picked up their first win last weekend.

Johnston had a quarterback competition in the preseason and had a handful of positions that were being competed for beyond that. The roster was unsettled in week one and it seems like this season is one big tryout for the future. I don’t hate that approach, especially when the reality is that you are not ready to compete for a championship. The team has been taking baby steps, but getting in the win column this past week was huge. Let’s see how the Panthers finish.

pitch, column, sports


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here