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Thursday, December 16, 2010
New England Roundup: Rhode Island

By Mike Scandura

How many years had elapsed since Bishop Hendricken last won the Division I football championship?

Let’s put it this way: Rhode IslandThe Hawks made up for lost time in a big-time way by edging Portsmouth, 20-17, for their first state title since 1996 plus a brilliant 13-0 overall record (the first time that’s happened in 15 years).

Senior quarterback Mike Maloof was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player after throwing touchdown passes of 22 yards to Zach Padula and 10 yards to Tim Lyons – on the initial play of the final period for what proved to be the winning score.

Maloof also ran the ball 17 times and gained 105 yards.

Ironically, the Hawks (much to coach Keith Croft’s chagrin) followed the same pattern that they did in their 38-35 semifinal victory over East Providence. In other words, the Hawks spotted their opponent the lead before rallying.

The Townies at one time led 35-21 before Hendricken came back to win, 38-35, on an 18-yard field goal by Zach Conte on the game’s final play.

Portsmouth, meanwhile, grabbed a 10-0 lead after one quarter due in large part to Ben Willett who scored on a three-yard run which was preceded by his 44-yard gain.

REPEAT PERFORMANCE
Woonsocket wrote another chapter to one of the most amazing / heart-warming football stories in the history of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.

A year ago, the Villa Novans captured a bittersweet Division II championship, 19-0, over Mount Hope. Earlier in that season, assistant coach Curtis Henderson – the older brother of head coach Carnell Henderson – died of a heart attack.

In addition, running back Jessie Charette missed the Super Bowl because of a fractured collarbone.

Charette this year keyed Woonsocket’s 28-14 victory over Tolman which enabled the Villa Novans (11-2) to become only the sixth school since the R.I.I.L. implemented the Super Bowl format 39 years ago to win consecutive Division II titles. Charette caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Reyes and later reeled off a 42-yard scoring run that gave Woonsocket a commanding 21-0 lead late in the third quarter.

End Geovanni Heredia sparked a defense which held the Tigers – who amassed 193 points in their previous 11 games – to zero points until the game was well in hand.

ISLANDERS STRAND QUAKERS
Middletown’s 21-0 blanking of Moses Brown in the Division III Super Bowl was a classic example of why games are played on turf as opposed to paper.

Here’s why:
Senior Rico McCray brushed aside those negatives as he walked off with the MVP trophy after shredding the Quakers’ defense for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

His third score, late in the final period, applied the exclamation point as he intercepted a pass and returned it 68 yards to the end zone.

And for good measure, McCray also kicked the PAT after each of his scores.

KUDOS TO THE KILTIES
Mount Pleasant has long been a boys’ basketball power, at the Division I level. But football proficiency and Mount Pleasant seldom have been used in the same sentence.

Until this year, that is.

The Kilties overcame decades of futility by waxing Exeter/West Greenwich, 35-6, for the Division IV Super Bowl crown. In the process, the Kilties (10-2) erased the bitter memories of a winless 2008 season and a three-win 2009 campaign. MVP Tevin Dale led the romp which prevented the Scarlet Knights from winning a third consecutive Super Bowl title. Among other things, Dale ran 36 yards for one score, caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Michael Minoque and recovered a fumble.

The game also brought to an end a brilliant senior season by EWG running back Al Georgio, who ran 37 times for 160 yards plus his team’s lone score. The touchdown was the 49th of the season for Georgio and the 97th of his career.

ENTER THE HALL
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League will induct 11 people into its Hall of Fame on May 11.

Topping the list is the late Babe Mousseau, who helped build Burrillville, which annually was one of the smaller male enrollments in the state, into a hockey power. Mousseau coached the Broncos from 1956-1974 and won seven state championships. In fact during one seven-year stretch the Broncos galloped to five state titles.

The other inductees are Westerly’s Emily Selvidio Scharsu, Classical’s Maria Nero Morin, Barrington’s Marilyn Hartley Picerelli (who were multi-sport athletes), Rogers’ Tim Walker (arguably the greatest high jumper in state history) East Providence’s Tim Army, who’s currently the head hockey coach at Providence College, long-time Cumberland wrestling coach Steve Gordon, former Cranston East football and wrestling coach Mike Traficante, long-time Scituate girls’ basketball coach and director of athletics Jean Angell and Ray Beattie who officiated football and basketball for nearly 40 years.

STAYING HOME
Lincoln School senior Corinne Coia opted to play her college basketball close to him, at the University of Rhode Island to be precise.
A 6-4 center who resides in North Smithfield, Coia averaged 17 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks over the last two seasons as the Lynx twice went undefeated.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball and hockey and 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.