Rams end Hawks’ reign

Posted 11/23/22

The La Salle Academy football team pulled off a 38-29 upset win over the four-time defending state champion Bishop Hendricken Hawks on Sunday afternoon at Cranston Stadium.

The Hawks jumped on the …

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Rams end Hawks’ reign


The La Salle Academy football team pulled off a 38-29 upset win over the four-time defending state champion Bishop Hendricken Hawks on Sunday afternoon at Cranston Stadium.

The Hawks jumped on the Rams early when John Erickson recovered a botched La Salle punt in the end zone to make it 7-0, but the Rams would respond and kept finding answers from there on to get the win. The two clubs met earlier this fall and Hendricken would get the comeback victory, but the Rams played with confidence, shook off the rough start, and watched the state’s best offense go to work.

“(La Salle’s) got a big senior class that has been playing together for a long time. Their offense just had a few too many answers for us today, you can’t stop everything. We would stop something but they’d answer with something else. They’ve got a lot of talented players on that team and obviously they have seniors at quarterback, running back and receiver. They’re a handful. Our kids battled, but they just made a few more plays than we did,” said Hendricken head coach Keith Croft.

The Rams would take their first lead in the second quarter when quarterback Dean Varrecchione connected with Brady Fisher on a 23-yard touchdown, which came on a fourth-and-20 situation.

The Rams did not look back despite the Hawks keeping things close. Hendricken never regained the lead.

Hendricken kicker Matt Brock drilled a 41-yard field goal just before halftime to make it 12-10 at the break. The two teams traded a pair of touchdowns in the third to make it 25-23 in favor of La Salle heading into the final 12 minutes, but the Rams would go up two scores when Terrence Campbell rushed for a touchdown with 1:41 remaining in regulation.

La Salle’s Justin Denson returned an interception 84 yards for a touchdown to ice the game with 17 seconds left. Hendricken’s Ronjai Francis scored a touchdown as the clock hit zero and also rushed for a touchdown in the third. Quarterback Jayden Falcone also rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Despite the loss, the Hendricken special teams unit had itself a day and was a major part in keeping the Hawks within striking distance. Between the touchdown in the first quarter and two blocked PAT’s, Croft was happy with the unit making a difference.

“We knew we needed (our special teams to step up) to remain in a battle with them. I figured we wouldn’t be able to keep up scoring with them so we needed that. We put up some points but needed a couple more scores and couldn’t get them,” said Croft, who was also surprised by La Salle’s production in the passing game given the high wind. “In these conditions, we had them in the wind a couple times and I didn’t think they would be able to throw it, but they kept throwing it. They did what they had to do to win.”

This is the first in-state defeat for the Hawks since the loss to La Salle in 2017. Croft is not worried about his team moving forward and expects it to grow from it.

“We were in this situation five years ago. We’ll come back, we’ll be hungry and stronger. At the end of the day, we got beat in one game. I can’t look back and think ‘we should have done this.’ They made more plays than we did. It’s a stinky feeling, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to get better,” said Croft.

The Hawks will return many key players including Falcone, Francis, Oscar Weah and Rushaune Villane next season. Croft was proud of the senior class that will be graduating in the spring.

“This was a phenomenal senior class and they were different than the last few senior classes we had. They may not have been as athletic, but they were great leaders on and off the field,” Croft said. “They were hard workers and had a great season in which they reached the championship.”

Hawks, football


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