Here we go, it is finally opening week of the high school football season. Most league schedules begin next week, but this will be the week that teams go for four full quarters with games that count toward their overall record.
Here are my predictions for the regular seasons for each of our teams. In the past I have included playoff predictions but have realized that they are pretty broad typically. Other than predicting Hendricken winning the state title, I am usually a little vague which I can’t help but be when going totally based on projection.
So, point being, this year I will stick to my final regular season predictions and maybe throw in a point or two beyond that for each team. Let’s take a look.
Now, Hendricken did play its first non-league game last weekend when it traveled to Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, New York and dropped a tough 31-27 decision. I am being a bit of a front runner here, but it is what it is.
The Hawks have another tough, tough schedule this fall. Between three out-of-state matchups and the new alignment that squares them off against La Salle, Central and North Kingstown, they’ll have their work cut out for them.
Of the three out-of-state games, I projected the Hawks to go 1-2. I knew nothing about Monsignor Farrell and Londonderry, New Hampshire, who they’ll be taking on next. I do, however, know quite a bit about Catholic Memorial of Massachusetts, who is one of the best teams in New England and beat both Hendricken and La Salle last fall.
I figured the game against Catholic Memorial would be the only loss I’d feel confident in picking for the Hawks. From there, I figured they’d split the other out-of-state games.
As for league games, it’s really hard to pick against Hendricken at this point, even if it is going through a buzzsaw.
Predicted record: 7-2 (Last year’s record: 6-2)
Pilgrim will enter this season with a new quarterback and with a few big holes to fill from last season. Between losing do-it-all standout Brady Burke, bellcow back Danny Halliwell and a handful of others, the Pats have some big questions heading into the season.
Head coach Blake Simpson and his staff always do a good job of knowing the temperature of the team. Even in the 2021 spring season in which Pilgrim was moved up a division and struggled, Simpson and company always seemed to have things under control as I expect them to have this year.
Pilgrim actually has a sneaky hard schedule this fall, both league and non-league.
The team is opening its season with a non-league matchup against Division II East Providence, and then will also face reigning DIII champ Narragansett, as well as other tough matchups against Ponaganset, Rogers, Mt. Hope and Johnston.
You can’t take a whole lot out of the injury fund exhibitions, but Pilgrim fell 15-0 to Barrington in theirs. If I had to guess, I’d say Pilgrim gets off to a slow start and improves as the year goes on.
Predicted record: 4-5 (Last year’s record: 5-1)
The Titans, as you know, are undergoing a massive facelift. Between a new coaching staff and a young roster that is still sorting itself out in just about every area, the Titans are perhaps the toughest team to really call of the bunch.
In reality, the Titans probably should have been moved back down to Division IV. I know that the realignment is based on a number of factors, but with so many moving pieces, I think Toll Gate probably would have benefitted from a year below while it sorts things out.
Toll Gate also has a tough schedule, both in and out of its league matchups. New coach Jim Miceli is about as experienced a coach as you’ll see at the high school level, so I’m going to assume that he will be a breath of fresh air for the team. However, beyond that, there are just too many uncertainties.
Predicted record: 1-8 (Last year’s record: 1-8)
The Thunderbolts return much of their lineup from last fall and seemed to be heading in the right direction in the final month of last season. East will have essentially the same offense back with a few key pieces returning on defense as well. East has been rebuilding the last few seasons and the hope is that this will be the team’s re-emergence.
There are a lot of fun matchups on the schedule this fall for East, especially thanks to the realignment. The question will be, how will the experience and continuity serve the Bolts and will East be able to compete with some of the best teams in the new Division II?
With matchups against Central, South Kingstown and Portsmouth, I can’t say that I’m expecting a ton of wins from this group, but I do have faith that it will show progress overall this fall.
Predicted record: 3-6 (Last year’s record: 1-8)
The Falcons are very similar to the Bolts in that they are young and rebuilding, but now have some experience and continuity under their belts.
With the same quarterback and the return of a few other playmakers on offense, as well as some leaders on defense, I am thinking pretty much the same as I am with East. I’d say that the Falcons have a slightly more forgiving schedule, and they did look good in the injury fund match which is nice to see.
I’m excited to see if West can fly back onto everyone’s radar, which I believe that it will. Despite tough draws against teams like Hendricken, Cumberland and St. Ray’s, I believe the Falcons will take a step forward this year.
Predicted record: 4-5 (Last year’s record: 1-8)
The Panthers overcame a slow start after appearing in the Super Bowl but would rebound and be one of the most dangerous teams in Division III last fall. I will say, the Panthers did lose a substantial amount of talent to graduation.
Between losing its quarterback, top receiver, top linebacker, this team will have a number of holes to fill and items to sort through. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the past couple of seasons have instilled a winning pedigree within this program, I’m not expecting a free fall. I am, however, expecting this to be more of a building year and step back. The Panthers need to regroup, and I’m not sure that one offseason will be enough time to do it.
Predicted record: 3-6 (Last year’s record: 5-4)