Call it the calm before the proverbial storm as far as Rhode Island Division I football teams were concerned.
First-place La Salle (4-0, 5-1) absorbed its first loss of the season as the Rams bowed, 27-16 to Bridgewater-Raynham in a non-league game Saturday.
As for the three teams that are tied for second place, Hendricken (3-1) and Cranston West (3-1) were idle while East Providence (3-1, 5-1) beat Mount Hope, 36-20, in a non-league game.
That was a good news-bad news scenario as far as the Townies were concerned.
The good news was that quarterback Brandon Peters ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Moreover, it was the second straight impressive game for Peters who ran for two touchdowns and threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Victor Adewusi in a 27-19 win over Cranston East on Oct. 7.
The bad news was that the Townies were penalized an unbelievable 16 times for 128 yards against the Huskies.
But at the mid-point of the season, the best is yet to come.
Following is a list of games that could (should?) have a bearing on who wins the regular-season title and earns the No. 1 seed in November’s tournament:
October 21 – East Providence at Hendricken.
October 28 – Cranston West at La Salle and Barrington (3-2) at East Providence.
November 4 – Cranston West at Hendricken.
November 24 (Thanksgiving Day) – La Salle at East Providence.
The Hawks (4-1 overall) may have the division’s best running game led by Lou Falcone and Ryan Brannigan.
Heading into the East Providence game, Falcone has carried the ball 52 times for 386 yards (a 7.4-yard average) and eight touchdowns, while Brannigan has ran 55 times for 385 yards (7.0-yard average) and four scores.
Cranston West plays a non-league game Friday at Dennis-Yarmouth and the Dolphins may regret scheduling this contest because the Falcons are still seething after their first loss of the season – 40-7 to South Kingstown.
When all is said and done, that upset could wind up biting the Falcons where it hurts the most.
Long gone are the days when Mount Pleasant was one of if not THE most dominant football team in the state’s top division.
From 1941 through 1963, the Kilties either won or shared a total of nine Class A or Metropolitan Division championships (this was in an era before the Interscholastic League implemented a Super Bowl format).
But changing demographics gradually led to a decline in the quality of the school’s football teams (although the Kilties still are one of the state’s very best boys’ basketball schools).
Under coach Paul Rao, Mount Pleasant has commenced a long climb back to respectability and has dominated Division IV in the process.
The Kilties won the 2010 Division IV Super Bowl and, so far, are poised to repeat. Mount Pleasant leads its division with a 4-0 record following one of the more bizarre games in recent Interscholastic League history.
The Kilties built a 20-12 halftime lead over North Providence on October 14 at Conley Stadium when, on the last play of the first half, quarterback Joel Diaz threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Jayquan Monteiro. But no sooner had he crossed the goal line when pouring rain followed by lightning engulfed the stadium which forced the officials – wisely – to suspend play.
When play resumed 48 hours later, Mount Pleasant polished off a 40-26 victory with Joel Royster running for two touchdowns and returning a Cougars fumble 25 yards for another score.
Central Falls (4-1) is in second place. But since the Kilties beat the Warriors, 14-12 on September 30, and the first tiebreaker is record in head-to-head competition, Mount Pleasant would gain the division title if the teams finished tied for the top spot.
VIKINGS EMULATE KILTIES
Rogers is another school that, like Mount Pleasant, used to dominate at the top level. But because of declining male enrollments and a subsequent lack of talent, the Vikings two years ago dropped down to Division III.
With alumnus Frank Newsome at the coaching helm, Rogers leads Division III with a 4-0 record following a 14-0 win over Aquidneck Island rival Middletown.
Quarterback Cody Platt ran for two touchdowns and kicked two extra points as the Vikings extracted a measure of revenge (Middletown beat Rogers, 20-14, last season in the Division III semifinals which denied the Vikings a shot at another Super Bowl title).
FORFEIT TIMES TWO
Should Mount Hope fail to qualify for the Division II Tournament, the Huskies can point to their II-B game against Ponaganset on September 25.
The Huskies romped, 37-7. But on October 17, the R.I. Principals Committee on Athletics awarded the Chieftains a forfeit victory because Mount Hope broke an eligibility rule.
On September 20, a boy who began the season playing soccer requested he be removed from that sport’s eligibility list so he could play football. But instead of sitting out the required one calendar week, he played right away against Ponaganset (he kicked three PATs and handled kickoffs).
Hence, he was ineligible and Mount Hope absorbed a forfeit and is now 1-3.
A tough season for Division III Lincoln became worse when the Lions were ordered to forfeit what had been their lone victory, 20-0 over East Greenwich, when it was determined that the team had used an academically ineligible player.
BUCKING THE TREND
In an era when school departments are looking to cut budgets in order to reduce deficits and athletics are often a prime target, Narragansett and Coventry are like a breath of fresh air.
Coventry will add a boys’ lacrosse team for the 2012 season while Narragansett will add both a boys’ and girls’ indoor track team for the upcoming winter campaign.
ODDS ‘N ENDS
NHL teams and colleges aren’t the only ones who play hockey at Fenway Park. Mount St. Charles – long the premiere team in Rhode Island – received permission from the R.I.I.L. to play long-time Massachusetts power Catholic Memorial in a game at Fenway on either Sunday, January 8, 2012 or Sunday, January 15. The game has been carved in ice with the exact date and time to be determined.
Lincoln High junior Lindsay Mayer has verbally committed to play softball for the University of Virginia. Mayer, a pitcher/shortstop, has twice earned First Team All-State honors.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.