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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
New England Roundup: Rhode Island

By Mike Scandura

Here’s the scary part about La Salle Academy’s 39-14 romp over defending Division I Super Bowl champion Hendricken: each of the six Rams who scored touchdowns are juniors -- repeat juniors and not seniors.

Rhode IslandWhile it wouldn’t be fair to say that running back Josh Morris stood head and shoulders above his classmates, it also wouldn’t be far-fetched.

Morris scored three touchdowns, two on runs of 21 and 38 yards, and the other on a 78-yard kickoff return to start the second half.

As for La Salle’s other juniors who figured prominently in this game, quarterback Anthony Francis (who missed half of last season with an injury) threw touchdown passes of 21 and 46 yards to Tyneil Cooper while Francis also plunged 1 yard for a score.

While this game was the league opener for each team, the victory improved the Rams’ overall record to 3-0 – during which they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 106 to 21.

Another reason why the game was noteworthy is that either the Hawks or Rams have played in every Division I Super Bowl for the last 17 seasons yet they’ve never played each other in the big game.

Finally, the result may have been a premonition of things to come because La Salle has qualified for the Division I playoffs for 11 consecutive years. A NEW SHINING “KNIGHT”
A year ago, Al Georgio ran for 2,872 yards and scored 322 points as Exeter-West Greenwich qualified for a third consecutive Division IV Super Bowl and earned First Team All-State honors in the process.

But Georgio graduated last spring which left a major hole in the Scarlet Knights’ backfield.

If EWG’s Division IV opener was any indication, Gary Benedetti may be the back who’s capable of filling the hole vacated by Georgio.

Benedetti gained 233 yards on 31 carries, scored two touchdowns and ran for a quartet of two-point conversions as the Scarlet Knights outlasted North Providence, 46-40, in your basic shootout.

In other games of note as teams kicked off league play last weekend: RECORD FOR ROONEY
Venerable might be the appropriate adjective to describe Hendricken boys’ soccer coach Mickey Rooney.

Rooney, who’s coached the Hawks since 1979, broke the state record for most victories in a career (this includes regular-season games and playoffs) when his team blanked North Kingstown, 2-0.

The win gave Rooney one more than now-retired Bob Cavanaugh who compiled 342 victories at South Kingstown. Goals by Chris Cambio and Brexton Kinney gave Rooney his memorable victory.

In one other game of note last week, defending Division II-North champion Smithfield improved its record to 3-0-1 by nipping Moses Brown, 2-1, on Tim Cabral’s goal off an indirect kick with 14 minutes left on the clock.

DARK DAY FOR NORTH KINGSTOWN
Article 7, Section 6 of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s rule book clearly spells out that a high school coach may not coach a member of his or her high school’s varsity, junior varsity or freshman team during the off-season of that specific sport.

Because North Kingstown assistant boys’ coach Anton Dushi violated the rule, the league’s Principals Committee on Athletics voted unanimously to suspend Dushi and head coach Kyle Froberg for two games (each coach will be suspended for a different game), fine the school $200 and place the entire sports program on a three-year probation.

“This is an important rule,” said RIIL Executive Director Tom Mezzanotte. “From what we were told, [Dushi] was doing this since 2009.”

In other business that was transaction at the committee’s monthly meeting; PASSAGES
John Veader, who coached either junior high or high school football for 48 years, succumbed last week to Lou Gehrig’s disease.

A native of Barrington, the 75-year-old Veader served as a volunteer assistant coach since 1997 for the East Providence High varsity.

During the 2010 season and this season up to the date of his passing, he continued coaching while confined to a wheelchair.

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.