Defending Division II champion Cumberland heads south to North Kingstown on Friday night for a key showdown with the Skippers. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
In analyzing this weekâs slate of high school football games, we thought it would be appropriate to categorize them via the following tiers:
-- Let the good times continue to roll.
-- Time to circle the wagons and bounce back.
-- Borrowing from The Doors, itâs time to break on through.
In what has to be considered a fitting ode to the number of teams in each of the four Rhode Island divisions, the vast majority of our area gridiron squads fall under the âtime to circle the wagonsâ tier. Sixteen schools spread over two eight-team subdivisions make up the Division II circuit â by far and away the most competitors under one umbrella.
In keeping with the general theme of this literary exercise, we are starting at the top before taking the spotlight and shifting it elsewhere.
When your team enters the second month of the season in perfect shape league-wise, you canât help but give them kudos for what theyâve accomplished to date.
Given that football is a sport where evolving over the course of a season is paramount, the coaches at Woonsocket and Cumberland are trying to downplay whatâs taken place leading up to this weekend. Both the Villa Novans and the Clippers fall under the âlet the good times continue to rollâ tier, with âcontinueâ no question serving as a point of emphasis.
Cumberland and Woonsocket will carry pristine 3-0 records into each oneâs ensuing Division II joust. The road beckons for each on Friday night with the Clippers traveling to North Kingstown, while the Villa Novans head to Mt. Hope.
If each Blackstone Valley-based entry is able to add to its current fortune â Cumberland and Woonsocket are the last two unbeaten Division II teams left standing â each will have earned it.
The Skippers and Huskies are both 2-1. Standing before these two teams is a golden opportunity to tighten the division race. On the flip side, they could end up serving as mere speed bumps and allow the Villa Novans and Clippers to continue on their merry way.
Now that weâve painted the picture of whatâs on tap for the two entries that made up last yearâs Division II Super Bowl field â yes, itâs way too early to start making plans for a Cumberland-Woonsocket rematch, but thereâs no harm in starting such a drum beat â the time has come to size up the games involving the teams that are in the market to get their respective seasons back on track.
We begin with Shea, which last Saturday, suffered its first Division II loss to West Warwick, a 28-7 setback that saw the Raiders fail to produce an offensive touchdown. Another road test beckons Friday with Shea busing to Newport to face Rogers in a matchup of 2-1 squads.
Staying in Pawtucket, St. Raphael is also in the market for re-entry into the win column. The Saints had Cumberland on the ropes last week, yet were unable to deliver the knockout blow in a 24-17 loss. At 1-2, SRA journeys to Providenceâs Conley Stadium to meet 1-2 Central.
Central Falls (1-1) returns to action after enjoying a bye week. For many years, a Division IV matchup against Scituate would be chalked up as an easy âW.â The Spartans are coming off a non-league loss to Exeter/West Greenwich, but letâs revisit what took place two weeks ago, when Scituate blasted Smithfield to the tune of 32-0.
Surely that lopsided final result was mentioned once or twice this week by first-year C.F. head coach Jeff Lapierre in preparation for Fridayâs encounter with Scituate at Perez Field.
In closing the âbounce backâ tier, Burrillville looks to climb back into the Division III playoff picture when it makes the trek to Classical for a high noon showdown on Saturday. The Broncos have dropped two straight league games since defeating defending Super Bowl champion Middletown.
It goes without saying that residing in the âbreak on throughâ tier at this stage of the season leaves you thirsty. As Tolman and Lincoln are well aware, the only way to quench said thirst is to piece together four strong quarters and hope that you are on the receiving end for one or two breaks.
The Tigers and Lions are each 0-3 in their respective divisions, 0-4 if you count the non-leaguers. Friday night will see Tolman continue its run against Division I contenders as Portsmouth invades Pariseau Field. Up the road at Ferguson Field, Lincoln will try to corral high-powered Mount Pleasant in Division III action.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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