The Cranston West football team has been climbing the ladder of success over the past two seasons, and looks to take one final step in 2019.
After qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade in 2017, the Falcons took it one step further and advanced to the Division I Super Bowl last November. No longer the underdog, the Falcons are ready to make it back to the Super Bowl and take home a W.
“We’re going to go into the season the way that we go into any season. Wherever we’re ranked, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to go in there and play as hard as we can, try to get a perfect record and win a championship, That’s the way that we want to play,” said senior Jake Cuddemi.
“We’re just looking for a ring. All of us seniors have been together since we were in fourth grade and all we want is that ring,” added fellow senior Garrett Jackman.
Second-year head coach Tom Milewski has been happy with his team’s performance in the early going at practice, and was proud to see his leaders continue to work hard over the offseason. The Falcons host defending state champion Bishop Hendricken in week 1, and Milewski looks forward to the challenge right out the gate.
“The kids have worked hard, and our mindset is one game at a time. We have Shea, Woonsocket, the Injury Fund game and then we start our regular season with Bishop Hendricken. They’ve obviously have had a lot of success, so for us to figure out where we’ll be, we might as well see how we measure up against the defending champs,” said Milewski. “We want to be in the state title game at the end of the year, there’s a lot of football to be played before that, but with the hard work that these guys have put in during the offseason, I think that it’s going to be a very fun year for us.”
Although West returns a large part of its core from last year’s run, the Falcons will also be relying on some underclassmen as well. Senior Matt Carvalho has embraced being a leader and helping guide the younger players.
“We try to take them under (our wing) and teach them the things that we’ve learned. We try to bring it to them and make them better, we’re trying to help them adapt to (varsity football),” said Carvalho.
Senior Andrew Dionizio echoed those sentiments, and is confident in the younger group.
“I think they’re doing well. They’re getting reps with the second team, they’ll be ready to go,” said Dionizio.
The Falcons will enter the 2019 season with a target on their back, however, they are confident as teams are preparing to give them their best shot. Last year’s Super Bowl loss to North Kingstown has also motivated West over the offseason.
“Last year when we took the loss to NK in the Super Bowl, that hurt a lot. We want to win it all, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing which is working hard at practice. If we do that then I think we’ll have a good shot,” said Carvalho.
“The competition is going to be great this year, but like any other year, we have a great team and we’ve put in the work. Now we just have to make sure it translates on the field. The hunger is there, the fire is fueled and we’re ready to go,” said quarterback Cameron Alves, who also feels that the team has fully bought into Milewski’s system in year 2. “It’s been great. A lot of people toss around the word ‘family’ in football, but we’ve been together for so long and the chemistry runs deep. With Coach Milewski, everything is run perfectly to a T, everybody wants to fight and claw for him. There is not a single person in the locker room that wouldn’t tell you that.”
Not only will the Falcons have a new-look roster, but they will also return home to play at the field located behind the school for the first time in 12 years. Milewski is excited to make the return to the field that he played on when he was a player.
“I think it’s going to be a great thing whenever we are able to get out there and use it. I’m excited to use it because that’s the field that I played on, these guys haven’t played a varsity game on it so it should be interesting, it’ll be fun to play a night game on it since it’ll be the first time we’ve had a varsity night game,” said Milewski.
Overall, the Falcons’ focus will not be on the success of last year, or the potential success of this year, according to Milewski, as it will be on executing the finer details and being even sharper this time around.
“For us, it’s the little things. We need to accomplish the little things, the little details that we missed a little bit last year and that we want to fix this year,” said Milewski. “It’s those little things that you practice, of course you also need to work hard, but paying attention to those little things that most people don’t think about is what will put us over the top. Our core leaders know that and have bought into that and that will help us.”