Boston High School: Mount Hope

R.I. football playoff matchups coming into focus

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
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Because of the vagaries of the Interscholastic League, Division II teams got a head start on their Division I, III and IV counterparts when they played their quarterfinal games last weekend.

Rhode IslandThe end result sets up the following semifinal games:
  • Defending Division II Super Bowl champion Cumberland will host St. Raphael on Friday night.
  • West Warwick, who overcame an early-season slump, visits Rogers on Saturday afternoon.

The Division II finals are set for Dec. 8.

Before stepping on the Tucker Field turf for the Clippers’ quarterfinal game against Coventry, coach Chris Skurka recalled three previous clashes with the Oakers each of which basically went down to the final play.

“If you go back to 2009, my first year as head coach here, we lost to them in triple-overtime,” said Skurka.

Cumberland barely held off the Oakers, 17-14, in 2010 and surprisingly blanked Coventry, 10-0, last season.

“Coventry always is extremely well-coached,” said Skurka. “I’ve known that for a long time. They’re sound in the running game and sound defensively. They’ve always been a tough opponent for Cumberland.”

“Tough” went flying out the window in this quarterfinal match because the Clippers “chopped” the Oakers down to size by sailing to a 42-7 victory.

“I didn’t expect a game like this,” Skurka said in a massive understatement. “”You never expect a game to be this one-sided. We’re very happy to be in the semifinals and whatever happens we’ll take it as it comes”

What made this victory particularly rewarding is that it came one week after West Warwick blanked the Clippers, 14-0, in the teams’ regular-season finale.

“We learned from our mistakes last week,” said Skurka. “We still had a couple of turnovers (against Coventry) and we still haven’t played our best game yet.

“I think it’s still inside of us to play even better than we did against Coventry.”

Oh.

“All” the Clippers did against Coventry was amass over 300 yards of total offense with junior tailback Mike Stock accounting for 168 yards on 24 carries.

With the offensive line opening holes big enough to drive a SUV through, quarterback Tyler Calabro gained 64 yards on nine rushes and fullback Joe Fine ran for two scores.

“The offensive line deserves a lot of credit,” said Skurka. “We controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to run to the football and control the clock.

“When you do that and play good defense, you’re going to be in good shape.”

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Woonsocket (R.I.) football refocuses after upset

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
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Call it a blip on the proverbial radar screen. Call it an aberration. Call it a fluke.

Rhode IslandCall it any of the above.

But after defeating four Division II-A opponents (five overall including a non-league victory) first-place Woonsocket found out -- much to the Villa Novans’ distaste -- what it’s like to exit a field with their first number under the loss column.

Rogers, who plays in II-B, upset the previously undefeated Villa Novans, 21-14, on Oct. 19 in a non-league game.

For want of a better phrase call it a wakeup call because in their four victories over division opponents, the Villa Novans had outscored them by a combined margin of 73-7.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Woonsocket coach/alumnus Carnell Henderson. “It’s a humbling loss because you want to win every game. But if there ever was a day to have a bad game this was it.”

The reason being non-league games don’t count in the standings and have zero effect on teams’ playoff chances. Henderson was, oh, upset at what transpired on each side of the ball.

Rogers turned the ball three times inside the Vikings 15-yard line including twice in the fourth quarter. But Woonsocket only capitalized on one of those golden opportunities.

At the risk of using a baseball metaphor, batting .333 is great in that sport but a percentage of that nature is mediocre (or worse) in football.

On the flip side, Rogers passed for two touchdowns – the first touchdown passes the Villa Novans have allowed all season.

“Our defense had been playing extremely well,” said Henderson. “I felt we had a group of young guys who could play aggressive on defense.”

In retrospect, maybe the Villa Novans were too aggressive on defense and it cost them. That performance was in stark contrast to the one they delivered in a 12-7 victory over Westerly when they only allowed three pass completions.

“We got off to a good start but we knew there still was plenty of work to do,” said Henderson. “It seemed that everyone played their worst game at the same time (against Rogers).

“It was humbling but now we go back to the drawing board try to get ready for a return to league play.”

Being humbled notwithstanding, the Villa Novans already hold the first tiebreaker should that come into play at the end of the season (record in head-to-head competition).

Johnston and Warwick Veterans are tied for second at 3-1. But the Villa Novans have beaten the Panthers 14-0 and the Hurricanes 27-0.

In fact, the three league opponents left on Woonsocket’s schedule have a combined record of 4-8.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
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If they haven’t already, Rhode Island high school football fans should circle Nov. 9 on their calendars.

Rhode IslandThat’s when La Salle and Hendricken – arguably the top two teams in the state regardless of division – will meet at the Hawks’ field with the Division I championship at stake.

La Salle (6-0) and Hendricken (6-1) established that scenario last weekend when the Rams blasted Cranston East, 41-12, and the Hawks flew by Barrington, 18-6.

If the Rams prevail and also beat East Providence (1-5) on Thanksgiving, they’ll clinch the outright title plus the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament. But should the Rams lose to the Townies and the Hawks beat La Salle, each team would finish 7-1, and Hendricken would earn the top seed by virtue of having beaten La Salle.

All-State running back Josh Morris shredded Cranston East’s defense as he scored four touchdowns – for the second consecutive year against the Thunderbolt. Morris’s scores came on runs of 19, 20, 18 and 30 yards.

In addition quarterback Anthony Francis threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Keon Wilson and scored on a one-yard run.

In its previous game, La Salle only led Barrington 17-14 at halftime but exploded for 24 points in the second half and coasted to a 41-17 victory.

Morris again led the way by running 12 times for 122 yards and two scores.

Ironically, Cranston East was coming off one of the more dramatic victories in school history.

Coach Tom Centore’s team spotted Portsmouth a 25-point lead at halftime and then rallied for a 51-47 victory.

E.J. Isom scored on a three-yard run with three minutes left on the clock to cap the comeback and set up the Bolt’s big game versus La Salle.

DIVISION II PICTURE IN FOCUS
As a result of last weekend’s games, the pairings are set for the Division II Tournament.

Johnston (7-0), Mount Hope (5-2), Woonsocket (5-2) and Westerly (4-3) earned the top four spots in Division II-A.

In Division II-B, undefeated Cumberland (7-0) earned the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 St. Raphael (5-2), No. 3 West Warwick (4-3) and No. 4 Rogers (4-3).

Because West Warwick, Rogers and Central each finished 4-3, tiebreakers determined the last two seeds and Central became the odd team out.

Johnston finished strong by winning each of its last two games, 38-10 over Westerly and 42-6 over Warwick Vets.

In the victory over Westerly, Evan Hopson caught a pair of touchdown passes, kicked a 27-yard field goal and converted three-of-four extra-point attempts.

Hopson was just as prolific against the Hurricanes since he again caught two touchdown passes and returned a fellow Panther’s fumble for a third score.

ISLANDERS MAKE HISTORY
Don’t waste your time delving through the record books to find the last year when Middletown completed an undefeated regular season in league play (in this case Division III).

At the least, that happened four decades ago - perhaps when the parents of the current Islanders were youngsters. And, if Middletown beats Tolman and Portsmouth in a pair of non-league games, it will record an undefeated regular season – period.

Middletown, which has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 339-96, handed East Greenwich its first loss of the season, 20-7.

Junior Connor Ross accounted for each of Middletown’s touchdowns on runs of 13, 27 and five yards. Ross clinched the victory when he intercepted a pass with one minute remaining at the Islanders’10-yard line.

Also in Division III, Moses Brown (5-2) clinched a playoff berth by routing Burrillville, 31-13.

Andrew Howard paced the Quakers by rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

KILTIES REIGN IN DIVISION IV
Mount Pleasant put the wraps on an undefeated Division IV season by blanking Central Falls, 33-0.

Randolph Zish paced the Kilties (7-0) by amassing 275 rushing yards and each of his team’s five touchdowns.

The field for the Division IV Tournament is just about set.

Hope (6-1) will have the second seed while North Providence (4-2) and North Smithfield (4-2) will battle for the fourth and final seed.

HAWKS REMAIN DOMINANT
Few teams have dominated boys’ cross country like Hendricken. The Hawks annexed their fifth consecutive state championship on Nov. 4 by scoring 44 points – 20 fewer than second-place La Salle.

Hendricken’s points were accounted for by Connor Doyle (fourth), Colin Tierney (fifth), Tyler Henseler (seventh), Alex Doherty (135h) and Collin Manning (15th).

The Hawks added the state trophy to the Class A championship they had captured the previous week.

Trevor Crawley became the first Cumberland runner to notch the state individual title in 14 years by covering the 5000-meter course at Ponganset High in 15:39.47. That time was 20 seconds faster than second-place finisher Bryce Kelley of Chariho.

BARRINGTON GIRLS DOUBLE UP
The Barrington girls may have needed a trailer to carry home all the trophies they annexed at the state cross country championships on Nov. 4 at Ponaganset.

As a team, Barrington easily captured its second consecutive state title by scoring a mere 31 points – 40 less than second-place La Salle.

In addition, freshman Emma McMillan won the individual title with a time of 18:22.99 on the 5000-meter course.

According to Interscholastic League records, McMillan is the first freshman female to win the individual championship since 1995. She finished 8.5 seconds ahead of La Salle’s Sheridan Wilbur.

After McMillan, Megan Vener-Crist (fourth), Fiona Paine (eight), Julianna Portelli (ninth) and Abigail Livingston (12th) rounded out Barrington’s first five finishers.

LINCOLN TRIO OFF TO COLLEGE
When Nov. 14 rolls around, three Lincoln High student-athletes will sign National Letters of Intent.

All-State pitcher Lindsay Mayer will sign with Virginia while teammate Emily Bouthillete will remain in state and sign with Bryant University.

All-Stater Nick Zammarell will head south and play baseball with Elon University in North Carolina.

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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
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Cranston East last won a Division I Super Bowl in 1987 – which, of course, was well before the players on the current team were born.

Rhode IslandBut the Thunderbolt have an opportunity to prove they’re a legitimate contender this season when they play at defending Division I Super Bowl champion Hendricken on October12.

Coach Tom Centore’s team set the stage for this matchup of undefeated teams when it waxed East Providence, 42-20, on Oct. 5. Quarterback Alex Corvese threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers – all in the first half – as the ‘Bolt bolted to a 28-7 lead. Covese’s longest strike was a 46-yarder to Marquem Monroe. Nicholas Ferry caught a 28-yard TD pass just before halftime and, in the third quarter, returned a punt 35 yards for a score that broke the game open.

Hendricken (4-0) and La Salle (4-0) are tied for the division lead, but Cranston East (3-0) is only a half-game back and is 5-0 overall.

The Hawks tuned up for the ‘Bolt by blanking Cranston West, 36-0, as quarterback Pat Gill ran for three scores passed for a fourth. In its previous game, the Hawks whipped Tolman, 28-7, converting three turnovers into three touchdowns in the process. Gill scored on a one-yard run and also connected with Marco DelVecchio on a 52-yard scoring bomb.

La Salle remained tied with Hendricken by whipping winless South Kingstown, 39-14, as quarterback Anthony Francis threw touchdown passes of 21 and 63 yards to Keon Wilson.

PANTHERS ON THE PROWL
Johnston maintained its status as the only undefeated team (4-0) in Division II-A by mauling Coventry, 26-6.

The final score was representative of how explosive the Panthers have been this season. In those four league games, they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 154-18.

Johnston built a 14-0 lead with five minutes left in the first half, thanks to a six-yard run by Brenden Pappas and a two-yard run by Joe Santilli.

WIZARDS DISAPPEAR – TEMPORARILY
West Warwick was knocked from the ranks of the undefeated in Division II-B when it was routed, 42-14, by Shea on September 28. Dennis Lloyd paced the Raiders with three touchdowns while Tyshon Ashe added a pair.

Cumberland, who blitzed North Kingstown 41-6, moved into sole possession of first place with a 4-0 record. Quarterback Brendan Guerin led the Clippers by passing for 132 yards and three scores.

The Wizards (3-1) rebounded the following week as they pasted Pilgrim, 41-6, with Austin Paygal running for four scores – including one that covered 66 yards.

AROUND THE GRIDIRON
Elsewhere, East Greenwich toppled previously-undefeated Moses Brown, 39-21, in Division III action. Carney Crawford paced the Avengers (4-0) with 230 rushing yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Andrew Minor passed for 117 yards and three scores.

Middletown (3-0) remained a half-game behind the Avengers thanks to a 48-20 victory over Tiverton. The Islanders’ Randy Butler had a career game as he carried the ball 12 times for 149 yards and a touchdown and also returned a kickoff 70 yards for another score.

Overall, Middletown amassed 428 yards of total offense against the Tigers. Middletown gave a premonition of things to come when it belted Ponaganset, 48-7, in its previous game. Butler also was a force in that game since he scored on a 31-yard run and caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Justin Sellers.

In other games of note:
* Mount Hope (2-2) evened its record in Division II-A by beating Woonsocket, 26-7, with Jesse Raiola rushing for 125 yards and three scores.

* Central Falls captured its first Division IV victory of the season by blanking Scituate, 42-0. Quarterback Brandon Canuto threw four touchdown passes – three to Odair Semedo.

* Classical also won its first league game, in Division III, by holding off Burrillville, 16-14. Amilcar Burganza provided what proved to be the winning score when he returned an interception 50 yards in the fourth quarter.

MILESTONE
Long-time Portsmouth boys’ soccer coach Mike Stinton recently annexed his 200th career victory as the Patriots blanked South Kingstown, 1-0. Stinton was appointed Portsmouth’s head coach in 1989.

Then, the following week, the Patriots (5-3-0) won their fifth consecutive Division I game, 5-1 over Tolman as Brendan Jumoas scored two goals and assisted on two.

RUNNING WILD
The East Greenwich boys’ cross-country team ventured north and captured the team title in the Woods Trail Run Invitational in Thetford, Vt.

The Avengers amassed 107 points – 29 better than second-place South Burlington (Vt.) High. Ben Fazio (6th), Garrett Scanlon (18th), Scott Kulm (23rd), Nat Waddell (26th) and Tom Sommer (34th) accounted for the Avengers’ scoring.

NO “MIDDLE” GROUND
What had been rumored is on the verge of becoming fact.

East Providence, which had accumulated a $7-million budget deficit and has been operating under a state-appointed Budget Commission, will eliminate middle school sports as part of a proposed plan to help get the city out of the red. Football, basketball and baseball, which have long served as successful feeder programs for East Providence High, would be the primary sports on the chopping block if the overall proposal is approved by November 1.

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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

April, 19, 2012
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Defending Division I state baseball champion Cranston West has picked up where it left off last season.

Rhode IslandThrough games of April 18, the Falcons (5-0) were tied for first place with Hendricken in Division 1 Central.

And like any good team, the Falcons are doing it with pitching and hitting.

Just check their last three games:
  • Rich Reo pitched no-hit ball until the sixth inning – the second time this season he’s lost a no-hitter in the sixth – and Frank Pettinato and Tony Crudale each collected three hits and two RBI in a 7-1 victory over Pilgrim.
  • Ryan Long scattered six hits and went the distance as the Falcons edged East Providence, 3-2.
  • Rob DeCosta led the last of the seventh with a solo home run which snapped a tie and gave the Falcons a 3-2 triumph over Cranston East.

In other games of note:
  • La Salle’s Caleb Gardner went the distance on a three-hitter, striking out 10 in the process, as the Rams beat Lincoln, 3-1. Frank D’Amato’s two-run homer and Jon Lapolla’s solo blast accounted for the Rams’ scoring.
  • Kyle Tracey threw only 95 pitches and went nine innings as Cranston East nipped Warwick Vets, 3-2.
  • Scituate’s Scott Iacobucci tossed a no-hitter, replete with 11 whiffs and only one walk, as the Spartans blanked Davies, 14-0, in a Division II-North game.
LAWSON TOPS ALL-STATE BASKETBALL TEAM
Senior forward Jarell Lawson led Central to the state basketball championship, the Knights’ first in 20 years.

Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when he was named First Team All-State.

Lawson averaged 19 points and 10.9 rebounds for the 19-4 Knights.

Joining Lawson on the First Team are North Kingstown senior center Evan Scott (he averaged 16.7 ppg. and tied the school record with 69 blocked shots); West Warwick senior forward Ryan Lawton (20.1 ppg. and 1.35 rpg.); La Salle junior guard Tom Hunt (18.9 ppg.); and, for the second consecutive year, St. Raphael junior guard Charles Correa (20.4 ppg. and 7.5 assists per game).

Second Team honors were accorded to St. Raphael senior forward Cesar Mejia, Hope senior forward Emmanuel Kargbo, Mount Pleasant sophomore guard Kip Stewart, North Providence senior guard Austin Van Bemmelen, Westerly junior guard Austin Cilley and West Warwick senior guard John Morrison.

WAS SILVA PUSHED OUT THE DOOR?
As is the case with many schools, coaches must apply for their positions on an annual basis regardless of their tenure.

That was the case with Mount Hope head football coach Ron Silva. But in what was anything but a “harmonious meeting,” Silva exited his session with school administrators after confirming he would not apply to remain the Huskies’ coach for the 2012 season.

In five seasons at the helm, Silva compiled a 22-19 record in Division II games and guided the Huskies to the playoffs four times.

Mount Hope advanced to the 2009 Super Bowl where it was blanked, 19-0, by Woonsocket.

Silva indicated he would like to continue coaching and noted he’s already received a few offers.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

March, 22, 2012
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From 1968 through 1992, Central High dominated boys’ basketball in Rhode Island.

Rhode IslandUnder coaching legends Jim Adams and Don Pastine, the Knights captured 11 of 24 state championships including seven in a row from 1968-75.

Players like Rickey Santos, Marvin Barnes, Mike Hazard and current Providence College head coach Ed Cooley became household names.

But when parochial schools like Hendricken, St. Raphael and La Salle began capitalizing on their ability to draw student-athletes from all over the state, the scales titled in their favor to the point where they annexed 16 of the last 17 titles prior to this season.

Fifth-seeded Central turned the clock back earlier this month when it beat intra-city rival/14th-seeded Hope, 66-59 behind the stellar play of Jerelle Washington.

Washington, a sophomore, tossed in 28 points – 16 in the second half which enabled the Knights to overcome an 11-point deficit and clinch their 12th state title – in the first time they’ve played the Blue Wave for the championship since 1971.

The Knights finished the season with a 19-5 overall record and broke Hope’s eight-game winning streak in the process.

Central beat ninth-seeded Rogers, 54-46, in the semifinals as Daniel Mendez scored 16 points.

The Blue Wave (14-12) advanced to the finals for the first time since 2007 by defeating second-seeded La Salle, 69-65, in overtime.

Manny Kargbo scored five of his overall 24 points at the free throw line in OT to help clinch the victory.

THREE FOR THE COURT
La Salle Academy, Narragansett and Juanita Sanchez captured the Division 1, 2 and 3 girls’ state basketball championships, respectively. But while winning titles is old news for the Rams, it made front-page headlines for the Mariners and Cavaliers.

Narragansett beat Classical, 51-40, for the Division II title – the school’s first in 18 years.

Juanita Sanchez, meanwhile, claimed the Division III crown by defeating defending champion Middletown, 49-36 – the first in the eight-year history of the program.

La Salle, not surprisingly, walked off with its ninth Division I title since the 1998-99 season by outlasting Bay View, 53-49.

Narragansett’s Mercedes Harris earned MVP honors after posting a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.

The Cavaliers (23-3 overall) won more than eight games for the first time in program history.

D’Asia Allen paced Juanita Sanchez with 18 points, which helped Tyrone Dale win a state title in his first season as the team’s head coach.

The “hook” in the La Salle-Bay View game was that each team finished 18-0 in its respective division (La Salle in I-South and Bay View in I-North).

Davida Dale paced La Salle with 13 points while Vandell Andrade led Bay View with 16.

RAMS CLIMB OVER MOUNT
Maybe Hendricken won’t win a gazillion state hockey championships like Mount St. Charles has over the decades. But the Hawks will cherish their most recent title moreso than most.

Why? One reason being it snapped Mount’s current run of consecutive State Championship Division crowns at four.

Secondly, the Hawks did something few teams have been able to do when they faced Mount in the third and deciding game of a best-of-three series – win that game, in this case, 5-2.

Invariably, when the Mounties drop Game 1, the running joke is they have their opponent just where they want them – in position to be swept over the final two games.

Junior Paul Filipone etched his name into Hendricken sports lore by not only scoring in overtime to give his team a 4-3 victory in Game 1 but he also scored two of the Hawks’ first four goals in Game 3.

Filipone scored once in each of the first two periods while Justin Finan drove a dagger into the Mounties’ collective hearts with a second-period goal which produced a 4-1 lead.

Mount forced a deciding game when Brian Larence made 32 saves to backstop a 3-2 victory.

ON OTHER ICE
Don’t ask why the smallest state in the country has four state hockey tournaments.

Actually, the reason is there’s such a gap between the various schools that it’s a virtual necessity.

Moses Brown copped the Division I crown by sweeping Barrington 6-4 and 4-2.

The Quakers thus ended their hockey affiliation with the Interscholastic League in style because they’ll be playing an independent schedule commencing next season.

Junior Nathan Farrington came up big in the third period of each game by twice scoring two goals. His short-handed goal in Game 2 gave the Quakers a 3-1 lead – a margin they didn’t relinquish.

Coventry retained its Division II championship by sweeping Prout 2-0 and 6-1.

Junior Mike Presola was voted tourney MVP honors after scoring three goals and assisting on two.

During their two-year championship run, the Oakers have compiled a 33-3-0 regular-season record.

“Townie Pride” has taken a blow over the last year as East Providence has been beset with serious financial problems. But the hockey team put those woes on the back burner for a while by nipping Mount Hope, 2-1, in the Game 3 of their Division III championship series.

As a result, the Townies earned their first state hockey title in seven years.

Ryan Barry was named the tournament’s MVP by scoring one goal and assisting on five others.

CHARIHO TRACKS DOWN NATIONAL RECORD
Another of the state’s smaller schools made major waves on the national track scene at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in The Big Apple.

The quartet of Dan Kilcoyne, Bryce Kelley, Jake Kilcoyne and Mike Marsella captured the 4-x-1-mile relay in a national-record time of 17:20.20 – breaking the previous mark by 1.38 seconds.

The Chargers, who’re coached by Bill Haberek, beat out such long-time powers as Shaker High (Latham, N.Y.) and Christian Brothers (Lincroft, N.J.).

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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
4:03
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Call it the calm before the storm – a weekend when all Rhode Island high school football teams are idle prior to their annual clashes on Thanksgiving Day.

Rhode IslandLa Salle enjoys the distinction of being the only team that’s undefeated in league play with a 7-0 record in Division I. As a result, the Rams have clinched the division title and the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament which begins on Nov. 29.

The Rams put themselves in that position by beating Cranston East, 35-14, with junior Josh Morris running for touchdowns of 64, 74, 63 and 38 yards.

Hendricken (6-2) clinched second place by beating Barrington, 21-13, as Ryan Brannigan threw a pair of touchdown passes to Lou Falcone and also ran for a third touchdown.

What other two teams will fill out the field is more complicated.

Currently, East Providence and South Kingstown are tied for third place with 4-3 records.

The Townies play arch-rival La Salle on Thanksgiving while the Rebels play winless North Kingstown.

Should EP and SK each win on Thanksgiving and finish 5-3, the Rebels would earn third place by virtue of their 40-12 victory over the Townies (i.e. the first tiebreaker is record in head-to-head competition).

But if the Townies lose and finish 4-4 and the Rebels win, EP would be tied for fourth with Portsmouth which plays a non-league game on Thanksgiving. However, EP defeated the Patriots 26-22 which would earn them fourth place and the last seed in the tournament.

Since Division II is split into two divisions, tournament play began last weekend with Cumberland, Central, Chariho and Westerly prevailing in the quarterfinals.

Cumberland beat Tolman, 13-9, as Ryan Gaumond scored on a one-yard run with 1:21 left on the clock.

Central whipped West Warwick, 27-12, with Mike Washington rushing for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Chariho outlasted Mount Hope, 28-15, with quarterback Jansen Williamson rushing for two touchdowns and heaving a 70-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Cahoon.

Westerly trumped St. Raphael, 36-22, as Spencer Reed scored on runs of one yard and three yards.

As a result, Cumberland will play at Chariho and Central will play at Westerly in the Nov. 29 semifinals.

Rogers (6-1) has clinched the Division III title and the No. 1 seed in that tournament. The Vikings play a non-league game on Thanksgiving against winless North Kingstown.

Narragansett (5-2) must beat Tiverton on Thanksgiving to clinch second place while Classical (5-3) and Middletown (5-3) are tied for second. But because the Islanders edged the Purple, 27-26, they’ve earned the No. 2 seed for the tournament.

First-place Mount Pleasant has completed its Division IV schedule with a 6-2 record while North Smithfield and Smithfield are tied for second with 5-2 records. But if North Smithfield beats Scituate, the Northmen also would finish 6-2 – and would earn the No. 1 seed by virtue of their 14-12 win over the Kilties.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
1:34
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Call it the calm before the proverbial storm as far as Rhode Island Division I football teams were concerned.

Rhode IslandFirst-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.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

March, 25, 2011
3/25/11
4:14
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Choose your cliché:

The clock struck midnight and Cinderella turned into a pumpkin.

The air went out of the balloon.

The ceiling caved in.

Rhode IslandEach of the above is applicable when describing the improbable run tiny Tiverton High made to the finals of the first open boys’ basketball tournament since 1966.

No. 5 seed and long-time Division I power St. Raphael Academy annexed the seventh state championship in school history when it beat No. 11 seed and long-time Division II / Division III member Tiverton, 58-47.

It also prevented the Tigers from writing a “Hoosiers-like” ending to what could have been a Hollywood script.

But, first, credit must be paid to coach Tom Sorrentine’s Saints, who also beat No. 9 North Providence, 66-48 in the semifinals and No. 13 West Warwick, 68-60 in the quarterfinals, and won their first state title since 2002.

Tiverton built a 24-19 halftime lead before SRA rallied behind sophomore point guard Charles Correa, who poured in a game-high 21 points and was voted tourney MVP honors.

Defense also played a key in SRA’s win as the Saints played a box-and-one defense on Gunnar Bjornson, who led the state in scoring. Bjornson did score 15 points but that was 10 below his average. And he was held to zero three-point baskets.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
1:12
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How many years had elapsed since Bishop Hendricken last won the Division I football championship?

Let’s put it this way:
  • Virtually all of the players on the 2010 team had barely begun to walk and some were still in the crawling stage.
  • The New England Patriots had yet to morph into one of the NFL’s dominant teams.
  • Bill Clinton had yet to begin his second term as President of the United States.
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.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
2:31
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St. Raphael Academy bused to Johnston High on Nov. 12 for a football game and a basketball game broke out.

Rhode IslandHow else to explain the fact SRA out-gunned the Panthers, 56-50 –- in overtime, no less?

First, as a means of explanation.

Due to the quirky nature of Rhode Island Interscholastic League football, the top four teams in Division II-A and II-B commenced quarterfinal play last weekend -- while teams in the other three divisions were still jockeying for berths in their respective tournaments.

Quarterback Trevor Vasey, son of one-time SRA head coach Todd Vasey, did his best Tom Brady impersonation as he riddled the Panthers for 295 yards and five touchdowns.

Despite his aeronautic proficiency, the Saints trailed 42-28 in the fourth quarter before Andrew Pognon forced overtime by reeling off a 36-yard touchdown run.

Johnston quickly went four-and-out before SRA won it on a 12-yard run by Charles Correa.

The Saints thus advanced to the semifinals on Nov. 30 against cross-town rival Tolman.

The Tigers, who captured the II-B title with a 7-0 record, eked out a 6-0 victory over Westerly on a 35-yard touchdown run by quarterback Joselito Knapp in the fourth quarter.

Woonsocket, who finished second to Tolman, maintained its chances of retaining the Division II championship by beating Central, 34-14.

The game wasn’t anywhere near as close as the final score might indicate because Woonsocket built a 27-0 lead after three quarters on a 35-yard touchdown run by Jalen Evans, a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Reyes to Jesse Charette, a 39-yard run by Orlan Thomas and a 35-yard run by Edwin Jones.

Woonsocket will tackle Chariho in the other semifinal game on Nov. 30.

The Chargers beat Mount Hope in the teams’ quarterfinal game as Coltan Place ran for touchdowns of 22 yards in the first quarter and 21 yards in the fourth.

EXTRA POINTS
Hendricken’s Hawks displayed the mettle last week that, again, stamped them as the team to beat in the Division I Tournament.

The fact Hendricken belted Barrington, 38-14, to clinch its first undefeated league record in 15 years at 8-0 (the Hawks are 10-0 overall but play a non-league game against Toll Gate on Thanksgiving), only told part of the story.

Head coach Todd Croft missed virtually all of practice leading up to the Barrington game because his four-month-old son was recuperating from brain surgery.

In addition, Hendricken was minus All-State running back Ethan Ferreira whose season came to an end the previous week when he fractured a leg.

Quarterback Mike Maloof gave the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he threw first-half touchdown pass of nine yards to Zach Pacula and 45 yards to Rob Manning.

The Eagles, who captured the 2009 Division I Super Bowl, could be on the outside looking in since they also lost their previous game 28-21, to East Providence as Townie quarterback Rob Delgado accounted for three touchdowns.

Barrington (5-3) has completed its league season while the Townies (5-2), who belted winless South Kingstown 28-7 last Saturday (Delgado ran for 135 yards and two scores, has its Thanksgiving Day clash against La Salle (4-3) remaining.

Should La Salle win, it would create a three-way tie for the last two playoff berths in Division I, which means tiebreakers will determine which teams will join Hendricken and Portsmouth (6-2) in the tournament.

Elsewhere:
  • Division III champ Rogers (7-0, 8-1) tuned up for the playoffs by routing Division I North Kingstown, 34-6, thanks to three touchdowns by Chris Savage.
  • Mount Pleasant (8-0) clinched the Division IV title by beating Exeter/West Greenwich, 43-23 behind Tevin Dale’s 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
GETTING THEIR ‘KICKS’
Barrington, Smithfield and Classical emerged as the state’s three boys’ soccer champions.

The Eagles captured the 11th Division I title in school history by edging Shea, 2-1, on a pair of goals by Jeff Craven. Despite the loss, the season was memorable for the Raiders who were playing for the first time in the state’s top division.

East Greenwich entered the Division II finale riding a 38-game unbeaten streak which dated back to the 2008 season. Smithfield made that streak history by edging the Avengers, 3-2, behind the play of tourney MVP Alex Bedrossian who scored two goals.

Classical capped a season for the ages by beating Exeter/West Greenwich, 3-1, due in large part to the play of defender Jose Zarraga who was voted the tournament’s MVP. En route to winning their first state title since 1984, the Purple compiled an 18-1-1 overall record.

All wasn’t lost for the Scarlet Knights since their girls’ team nipped Lincoln, 2-1, for the Division II crown – the first in the 19-year history of girls’ soccer at the school.

Freshman Kara Shaw scored with barely eight minutes left in regulation to give EWG the title.

La Salle maintained its dominance in Division I by blanking East Greenwich, 1-0, in the finals – Mackenzie Meehan scoring the game’s lone goal with two minutes left in regulation.

For the Rams, this was their third consecutive Division I state title as well their eighth in the last 10 years.

Narragansett, meanwhile, won its first state title since 1988 when it annexed the Division II crown by blanking Middletown, 1-0, in the Division III finals. Carla Porras’ goal midway through the second half proved to be all the scoring the Mariners would need.

RUNNING WILD
Cranston West’s Bob Allen wrote his name in the Interscholastic League’s record book by posting a cross-country version of a “double double.”

Allen captured the state championship on Nov. 7 by touring the 3.1-mile course at Ponaganset High in 15:30.86.

In the process, Allen became only the second runner (male or female) in school history to win the state cross-country title.

Then, one week later, Allen journeyed to Thetford, Vt..and won the New England Championship in a time of 16:28.5.

La Salle’s Molly Keating retained her title in the girls’ state championship race.

Hendricken’s boys won a third consecutive team title while the Rams extended their streak of consecutive team titles to four.

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.

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