Boston High School: Jalin Braxton

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 12, 2012
Those of a certain age remember the slogan for Timex watches: “They take a licking and keep on ticking.”

Rhode IslandThe same could be said of the St. Raphael Academy boys’ basketball team.

Defending CIAC Class L champion New London smacked the Saints upside the head last Saturday en route to a 66-55 victory at the CCRI Knight Campus Fieldhouse.

With the memory of that loss still fresh in their minds, the Saints took the floor Tuesday night for a key, early-season game against Central.

The Saints edged the Knights, 57-54, and remained atop the Interscholastic League’s new Power Points Standings with a 6-0 record (SRA is 9-1 overall).

Leading the way was SRA’s 1-2 punch of Charles Correa and Cesar Mejia.

Correa, who struggled to score 15 points against New London, led both teams with 19 points while Mejia chipped in with 18 (before the game, Mejia was honored for having scored his 1000th career point earlier in the season).

Granted, the game was marked by a series of turnovers. But when clutch time rolled around, SRA held Central (5-1, 5-2) to four free throws in the final minute.

Conversely, while the Saints were soaring, perennial state power Hendricken High’s Hawks were floundering. At the moment, the Hawks are 1-4 and rank 33rd in the Power Points standings.

Given the new rules changes imposed for this season, one of which requires a team to win at least 40 percent of its league games to qualify for post-season play, the Hawks could be in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in decades.

The top 32 teams qualify.

Hendricken absorbed a brutal 55-53 loss at the hands of arch-rival La Salle on Jan. 3, which did zero to bolster the team’s confidence.

Among other things, a lack of offense has been the proverbial Achilles’ heel for the Hawks who’ve been minus their top returning player, Lee Messier, who’s been sidelined with a sprained ankle.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 5, 2010
When East Providence routed Cranston West, 35-14, on September 24 in a Division I game, the victory underscored what most fans of Rhode Island high school football thought: the Townies had a legitimate chance to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2006 – when they beat Hendricken for the state title.

Rhode IslandAmong other things, the Townies were benefitting from the return of junior running back Jalin Braxton, who missed most of last season due to injuries.

Braxton was at his best against the Falcons when he ran for a quartet of touchdowns, including one that covered 51 yards.

Now, flash forward to last weekend when the Townies visited Portsmouth – a one-time Division I power that’s fallen on hard times in recent years.

All the Patriots did was pull off one of the season’s more impressive upsets by beating the Townies, 24-14 as quarterback Ben Willett scored one touchdown and passed for three more.

Moreover, the Townies’ final score was irrelevant since it came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. What was relevant were the 14 points Portsmouth’s defense held East Providence to – since the Townies had outscored their opponents 135-26 in four overall games.

Since Hendricken beat Cranston East, 16-8, and Barrington played a non-league game, the Hawks (3-0) and Eagles (2-0) emerged from the weekend as the only undefeated teams in the state’s top division.

Even though all coaches regardless of sport recite the “We take them one game at a time” mantra without any provocation, two upcoming games are worth noting on your calendar:

* October 22, when Hendricken visits East Providence.
* November 5, when the Townies travel to Barrington.

Both games could go a long way toward determining the division champion, who would earn the number-one seed in the Division I Tournament.


Because Exeter/West Greenwich plays in Division IV, the Scarlet Knights frequently are dwarfed by the likes of perennial state powers like Hendricken, La Salle, East Providence, Barrington, etc.

Senior running back Al Georgio is doing his best to draw attention to his team, which leads the division with a 3-0 record. In a word, Georgio is shredding opposing defenses.

Through the Scarlet Knights’ four overall games, Georgio has rushed for 975 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Since Exeter/West Greenwich has seven regular-season games remaining – plus, quite likely, at least one in the Division IV Tournament –the stats Georgio could rack up are mind-boggling.


In other games of note:

* La Salle barely staved off defeat against Division I newcomer South Kingstown on October 1 by edging the Rebels, 7-3, thanks to Josh Morris’ 20-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

* For the first time since 2005, Tolman is undefeated in league play (Division II-B) after three games.

The Tigers reached that mark by blanking Pilgrim, 35-0, as Ousame Samb scored on a 21-yard run and Shayne Taylor returned an interception 50 yards for a score – all in a span of 43 seconds in the third quarter.

In their three league victories, the Tigers have allowed a total of only 304 yards in total offense.

* Barrington played one of the more intriguing non-league games this season against long-time Massachusetts Division III power Bishop Feehan – and coasted to a 43-22 victory.

Alexander Spiess paced the Eagles by scoring three touchdowns, including one on an 85-yard return of a fumble recovery.

* Tiverton shed that proverbial two-ton gorilla by posting its first Division III victory of the season, 12-6 over Classical when John DeCosta threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Robert Kisor with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.


Four men will be inducted into the East Providence High School Hall of Fame at the 27th annual ceremony on October 24:

* Ed Cronan, a retired guidance counselor, coached cross country plus track and field.
His honors include being named Rhode Island Cross Country Coach of the Year and Outstanding Educator by the East Bay Women’s Club.

* Colonel Robert Germani ’79, who was a varsity hockey captain.
He received numerous awards while serving in the Rhode Island Air National Guard as Chief of Security Police, Security Forces Commander and the Detachment Commander for the 201st Mission Support Directorate.

* Robert Silva ’57, who was a standout wrestler for the Townies.
Silva was one of two students selected as the “Most Likely to Succeed.”
He was appointed as legal counsel for the Rhode Island State Resources Board, the State Lottery Commission and the East Providence School Committee.

* James Viara ’62, who also excelled at wrestling for East Providence.
A self-made businessman, Viara during his retirement served as a mentor for young men from dysfunctional families.

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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

September, 22, 2010
At the risk of stating the obvious, one game doesn’t make a season regardless of sport. But that being said, there was more than “casual” interest in the Division I football opener on Sept. 17 for perennial powers Hendricken and La Salle Academy.

Rhode IslandThe Hawks beat the Rams, 24-12, and enhanced their status as one of the two or three teams to beat not only in the race for the regular-season title but also for a probable Super Bowl championship.

From 1991 through 2009, either Hendricken or La Salle played in the Division I Super Bowl in 18 of 19 seasons.

Even though the Hawks were hit fairly hard by players who followed the “Cap and Gown Route” last June – players from a team that lost to Barrington in the Super Bowl – Hendricken isn’t exactly lacking for talent.

That was never more evident than in the Hawks’ win over the Rams – especially as far as Hendricken’s defense, which is led by senior All-State linebacker Ethan Ferreira, - is concerned.

By the time the final gun sounded, Hendricken had blocked two punts (Ryan Brannigan smothered one ball in the end zone for a touchdown), intercepted three passes and threw up a goal-line stand that would have been the envy of any NFL team.

Hendricken led by the eventual final score when La Salle marched to a first-and-goal on the 3 with 15 ticks of the clock remaining.

Four plays went nowhere and the Hawks emerged with a key, early-season victory.

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