That Hendricken High again is among the top football teams in the state, while playing in the top division (Division I), isn’t a major surprise.
The Hawks have a long history of reloading instead of rebuilding – which is exemplified by the fact they’ve won three consecutive Division I Super Bowls and have a chance to become the first team in state history (since the Interscholastic League implemented Super Bowls in the early 1970s) to win four consecutive bowl championships.
But the fact Hendricken is 4-0 overall and tied with Barrington for first place with a 3-0 record is a surprise considering the Hawks have a veritable rookie under center – Pat Gill.
Last season as a junior, Gill was under center for exactly zero snaps as the Hawks upset La Salle in the Division I bowl with then-senior Ryan Brannigan leading the way.
But at the end of fall practice and before the regular season commenced, head coach Keith Croft decided that Gill would be his best option at least to qualify for the playoffs if not win that iconic fourth consecutive Super Bowl.
“Pat has been one of the greatest success stories in the history of Hendricken football,” said Croft. “Really, he’s an underdog (for what it’s worth, Gill checks in at 5-feet-8 and 160 pounds) and is the type of kid you root for.”
Gill gave an indication of things to come in Hendricken’s non-league, season opener against a Division II team, St. Raphael, whom the Hawks dispatched by the score of 34-6.
Gill completed a modest 3-of-4 passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns –one a 25-yard strike to Lee Moses and the other a 20-yarder to Mike Scarcella.
“At the beginning, I came into a new role after our Super Bowl championship,” said Gill. “Fortunately, we had a lot of guys back especially in the offensive line. But in the beginning, I really was a little bit shaky.
“Once we got going it was amazing.”
At the least, Gill was semi-amazing during a 36-14 victory over South Kingstown in Hendricken’s division opener.
He passed for 94 yards, including a 33-yarder to superb running back Remington Blue midway through the second quarter for a 7-0 lead. Gill also threw another touchdown pass and dashed 36 yards for a score early in the fourth quarter to break the game open.
“I’m more comfortable knowing how to read the routes better,” said Gill. “I also feel I’m more explosive when I’m running. But I have to get better.”
Gill gave another indication that he was getting “better” during a 38-7 romp over East Providence.
The game was scoreless entering the second period when Gill heaved a 65-yard touchdown pass to Moses.
Altogether, Gill tossed a trio of TD passes – each to a different receiver.
With Gill and Blue leading the way, Hendricken turned a 40-0 Division I victory over Tolman into little more than a half-field scrimmage.
After the dust had settled, the Hawks led the division in both points scored (114) and fewest points allowed (21).
“Since I’m a senior, I know I have more experience and am better able to help the younger guys on the team,” said Gill. “We have a lot of our good skill guys back and we know what we can do.
“We know no other team ever has won four Super Bowl titles in a row. We’re very hungry to win that fourth title.”
ROLLING THE DICE: If La Salle Academy beats out Hendricken for the regular-season Division I title, and perhaps wins the Super Bowl, the Rams can look back on a 22-21 victory over Cranston West on Oct. 4, as the turning point in their season.
The Falcons led 21-14 entering the last 1:45 when La Salle when Jace Pena lofted a short touchdown pass to Keon Wilson with 25 ticks of the clock remaining.
The score also presented head coach Geoff Marcone with a conundrum: Go for the extra point (Pete DeSimore already had kicked two PATs), a tie and overtime, or opt for a two-point conversion which would produce a victory.
Marcone let the Rams decide and they opted for the deuce. Keon Wilson passed to DeSimone in the end zone for the game-winning points.
RETURNING TO THE HARD WOOD: Jane Burgess Schwechheimer has been appointed the new girls’ basketball coach at Lincoln School.
Burgess, who’s married to Pawtucket Red Sox General Manager Lou Schweccheimer, had a stellar career at Warwick Veterans High which enabled her to obtain inclusion in both the Hurricanes’ and the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Halls of Fame.
She later went on to star for St. John’s.
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.