MY PITCH

Thoughts on proposed realignment

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 4/23/20

Last week, the Principals Committee on Athletics proposed a new series of divisional realignments in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. Nothing is official, but it appears that there will be many changes, most notably, in high school football. The

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MY PITCH

Thoughts on proposed realignment

Posted

Last week, the Principals Committee on Athletics proposed a new series of divisional realignments in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. Nothing is official, but it appears that there will be many changes, most notably, in high school football.

The proposal, if passed, would create a Power Four division in Division I. Surprise, surprise. The division would include Bishop Hendricken, La Salle, North Kingstown and Portsmouth.

After that, in terms of our schools at Beacon Communications, Toll Gate would move up to Division III, and Johnston would move down to Division III.

Here are my thoughts on these different items.

First off, enough with trying to get private schools separated from public schools. Obviously I am referring to Bishop Hendricken and La Salle.

I understand the frustration of seeing the same two teams dominating each year, but a Power Four division just simply won’t work. Well, technically, it will work, but I just think it is a bit ridiculous. Why make a four-team division? Might as well just separate Hendricken and La Salle altogether.

So, now, Division I will be losing its best four teams. Cranston West will be jumping for joy as it opens the door for a possible title, as well as the other two or three teams in Division I, like East Providence and Shea.

I know that the whole public school-private school debate wages on and has no end in sight. I totally understand why people would like to see the separation, but there is no good solution. Instead of messing with the alignments and now dramatically changing the landscape of Division I, how about we just keep things how they are and see which public school breaks through first?

From what I have seen, most people are in favor of the State Championship and Division I Super Bowl which was established just a few years back. I was not for it at first, but it has grown on me. It’s not ideal by any means, but it’s the closest thing to a sound compromise.

Not to mention that public schools are not as far off as it seems, at least in my opinion. North Kingstown went toe to toe with Hendricken last year and almost won, Cranston West beat La Salle. The gap is still there, but I feel like we are making a big mistake by waving the white flag and saying the gap is so wide. It’s not.

As for our other schools, I love the fact that Johnston is dropping, but am not a fan of Toll Gate rising.

The Panthers took a step in the right direction last year. Although their record did not show it, the Panthers have some quality young players on the roster that will only continue to improve in the next season or two.

Now, going down to Division III, it will allow the young kids to really spread their wings and take off and generate some real buzz around this team. Johnston has a young quarterback, a crop of young receivers. Offensively, this team is good enough to stay in Division II, so if the move will alleviate some of the defensive struggles, then this team could easily compete at a high level in its new division.

As for Toll Gate making the move up, I don’t like it one bit.

The Titans have qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons in Division IV, but have yet to take the next step toward being a championship team. So now, we’re going to move them up to face a team like Pilgrim, who rolled to the Division III title and a massive Turkey Bowl win?

Don’t get me wrong, Toll Gate is a good team and will win some games in Division III, but I hate the fact that the league will be pretty much eliminating any chance at a title that it may have had. It’s going to take years to build up the program to be championship-caliber in Division III.

I still believe that we may see Pilgrim and Toll Gate merge at some point. I’d love to see the two clubs combine forces and be a Division I power and establish a new rivalry with Hendricken, but, at the same time, that would end the Pilgrim-Toll Gate rivalry. There would be good and bad with a merge, for sure.

Overall, I’m a whiner by nature. Any realignment would bother me in some way. This potential shift would be great to see for Cranston West and Cranston East, as well as Johnston. Toll Gate, though, should stay in Division IV. I don’t understand the move.

Next, to follow up on my COVID-19 situation, I am feeling much better.

The doctors told me it would be closer to a month before I felt totally normal again. I still am easily winded, and am struggling to stay awake past 8 p.m. But, my fever is through, my cough is gone, my taste is back, I feel very well and am happy to be past it.

Thank you for all that reached out, I appreciate the support and was moved by the kind words. I wish you all the best and great health moving forward. I’m not sure when we will have sports back, but hopefully we will be there soon. Fingers crossed.

Lastly, as I said last week, I hope you all enjoy this week’s NFL Draft. Here are a few predictions:

First off, I do not see a scenario in which LSU’s Joe Burrow does not get taken by the Bengals first overall. The Bengals, I’m sure, will be fielding some calls for trades, and will be tempted by other prospects. But overall, Cinci will go with the sure thing and take Burrow as their QB of the future.

Next, this is going to be the year of the tackle. Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Louisville's Mekhi Becton, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Alabama’a Jedrick Wills are all first round locks. But beyond that, Houston’s Joshua Jones, Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland, USC’s Austin Jackson, Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson are all possibilities. Don’t be surprised to see upwards of six or seven tackles taken in the first round.

As for the Patriots, they continue to be the toughest call in the league each year. It would not surprise me if they trade out of the 23rd pick, but I expect them to stand pat and select Iowa’s AJ Epenesa or Alabama’s Xavier McKinney.

I hope you all enjoy the draft. It’s the first real, legitimate, sporting event with big time implications in a month. Have fun with it.

Comments

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John Stark

First and foremost, we're all glad you're on the mend, Alex. Football realignment has become a soap opera. You might as well have three divisions: Normal Division, Avoid Hendricken Large Division, and Avoid Hendricken Small Division. A state the size of RI having five different divisions is ludicrous and serves only to reinforce the "Jackets and trophies for everybody" mentality. TG is now one of the largest schools in the state and belongs in at least Division 2. D4 was embarrassing. Pilgrim, also one of the largest, should be in D1. Perhaps it's time for Warwick to address it's collective inferiority issues. I agree that the two might merge in the not-too-distant future. But the new "Warwick High" would still fail to be a D1 "power" in any boys' sport, and certainly football, despite being one of the largest schools in New England. Again, glad you're feeling better.

Monday, April 27