SPORTS

Opening week reactions

Posted 3/31/21

With the opening weekend of high school football in the books, we are officially in the thick of the third season. As we all know, this third season is going to be fast. It will be all over and done with in roughly a month from now, so don't blink.

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SPORTS

Opening week reactions

Posted

With the opening weekend of high school football in the books, we are officially in the thick of the third season.

As we all know, this third season is going to be fast. It will be all over and done with in roughly a month from now, so don’t blink.

Before I settle into the meat of this column, let me once again speak on the progress we have made here in the past few weeks. I know, I know, it is a drag having to come to grips with the reality that we are in and the fact that we still have quite a ways to go. However, progress is continuing to be made, and in my opinion, we may just be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The fall season was choppy. We had to postpone the football and volleyball seasons, fans were not allowed at times, there were quarantines left and right, nothing seemed familiar. The winter continued to be unusual as fans were for the most part not allowed and teams still continued to see their schedules constantly in flux.

But this third season seems different already. Fans are, in a limited fashion, back in attendance. The overall numbers and incidents seem to be dropping slightly. We also have experience dealing with the precautions and protocols. Maybe it’s also the spring season and the nice weather and all of that good stuff, but things just seem to be better.

In my opinion, next fall will be the first season that things will actually look and feel totally normal. This third season is going to be quick and have its trials. The traditional spring season will probably be essentially a continuation of this one. It almost seems as if June is the finish line and we are just trying to reach it before we can regroup in the summer and put everything back together in time for September. There will be summer sports as well, but in terms of interscholastic athletics, I feel that next fall will be the true restart.

Like always, let’s make the most of what we have. We get to see these sports and teams back in action, we are climbing our way out of the cold winter, and we seem to be inching our way back to normal slowly but surely. I’m a broken record, I know, but sometimes we all need that reminder.

Now, to the fun stuff.

My biggest takeaway from this past weekend is probably what we saw from the Hendricken football team.

Sure, we figured the Hawks would be just fine with a new quarterback in Zach Lavergne and a new offense, but putting up 42 points against a formidable Burrillville team? Wow.

I can’t stress this enough. When I say my biggest takeaway, I do not mean merely my biggest surprise. I mean the thing that stood out to me most.

I know it is only the first week and the Hawks were expected to win, but I am already all in on Hendricken repeating as champions. There was one real question surrounding this team heading into the year and I feel that it was answered right off the bat.

Across town, Toll Gate hit the road and traveled up to Smithfield and got the 19-11 win. Quarterback Greyson Pasquina tossed a pair of touchdowns and the Titan defense was stout. I kind of alluded to this last week, but I feel that this Toll Gate team certainly has what it takes to be a playoff club and a potential dark horse considering Pasquina’s experience and their play up front.

It’s early on, but so far so good.

The Cranston teams got off to a shaky start, with East being shut out 37-0 by East Greenwich and West falling to Central, 26-13.

The Bolts, as we know, are in the middle of a big rebuild and still have a very young roster. Not that 37-0 is excusable, but at the end of the day, this team is still working its way up. Let’s see how it responds.

As for West, Central was a playoff team and will be a factor in Division I. As I also stated recently, West will be in for some early struggles as it adjusts after losing its leader in Cam Alves. Week 1 was not pretty for the Falcons, but no reason to be panicked or concerned.

Moving south, Johnston picked up a close 15-7 win over host Chariho.

Prior to the season, Johnston coach Joe Acciardo said that the team knew it had a solid offense but needed to step up on defense. If this past week is any indication, the Panthers are on their way to doing just that. I would not be too concerned about the quiet offensive night, either. Chariho is always a tough draw, and sometimes, the gameflow dictates the scoreboard.

Pilgrim’s game was cancelled and the Pats were unable to secure another opponent in time. Not to turn on my previous sentiments and become pessimistic, but get ready for more of this the next few weeks.

Although I have a positive outlook on this third season, it has already been made clear in both football and volleyball that the schedules will be a bit all over the place for reasons regarding COVID and beyond. I hope that the eventual playoffs can accommodate these issues, and I believe they will, but hopefully teams can work their ways through it and have a chance.

In terms of our volleyball squads, it’s hard not to be impressed overall.

Cranston East has been one of the top programs in the state the past decade and came from behind to beat Coventry 3-1 in the opener. With five returning seniors, the Bolts should be right in the thick of things for the long haul.

West also topped Barrington, while Toll Gate has jumped out to a strong start as well. Johnston got back to work Tuesday after having its schedule jumbled in the early going while Pilgrim is looking to get back on track after some early struggles.

Either way, I have a feeling we will be seeing multiple of our teams reach the postseason and contend for a title.

This column is probably littered with overreactions … but that is just fine.

One last note.

As I say every season, be sure to support your unified sports. In this season, it is unified volleyball.

These sports are so special in terms of connecting students and giving kids a chance to participate in ways that haven't always been available. These leagues and programs are outstanding and deserve our backing. Even if it is just catching a game or putting the word out, embrace your community’s unified sports.

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