Last year, Woonsocket and St. Raphael staged a thrilling Division II quarterfinal-round playoff contest. A touchdown produced in the waning seconds of regulation enabled the Saints to force overtime, this after the Novans held a 21-13 advantage with just 90 seconds remaining.
The extra session produced even more dramatics. St. Raphael drew first blood to go up 28-21 before a scoring strike from then-starting quarterback Brett Bouchard brought Woonsocket to within a single point. Instead of playing for the tie that would have resulted in a second free period, Novans head coach Carnell Henderson elected to send his offense back out to attempt the two-point conversion.
The gutsy calls paid off, as Kyle Mulvey fought his way into the end zone for what proved to be the final play on a memorable night at Pariseau Field. Woonsocket moved on to the next round thanks to a 29-28 triumph while SRA trudged off its home field knowing that its final game of season would be a non-leaguer against Moses Brown on Thanksgiving Eve.
Here is some good news for the area high school football enthusiasts who were present in Pawtucket that Saturday night in November – another playoff matchup between Woonsocket and St. Raphael is on the docket. Come Saturday afternoon at 1:30, the two schools will once again cross paths in the Division quarters. This time, Woonsocket’s Barry Field will serve as the location.
Woonsocket is the top seed on the Division II-A side after posting a 6-1 record in the regular season. SRA ended up with the No. 4 seed in Division II-B after finishing 5-2. The Saints were one of five teams in the subdivision to post such a record, the other four including defending Super Bowl champion Cumberland, West Warwick, Rogers and North Kingstown.
Due to tiebreakers, the Wizards were awarded the top seed in II-B followed in order by the Clippers, the Vikings and the Saints. The Skippers found themselves on the outside looking in, this despite beating both West Warwick and Cumberland.
Speaking of the Clippers, they will open the second season Friday night at Tucker Field against II-A three seed Coventry, which went 4-3. The final two quarterfinal contests include Mount Hope, the fourth seed in II-A, traveling to West Warwick on Saturday. No. 2 II-A seed Johnston will host Rogers in a game that could take place either Friday or Saturday.
In a new twist, next weekend’s winners will play their semifinal-round contest the weekend of Nov. 22-23. The change means that Division II teams do not have to worry about playing a playoff game the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which remains the case in Divisions I, III and IV.
“It was a straw poll during the week, and everyone chose that for Division II,” said Woonsocket Athletic Director George Nasuti about holding the semis before Thanksgiving. “It was a resounding yes.”
Depending on when the two remaining Division II teams play their traditional Thanksgiving contest, they will have either seven or eight days off prior to the Super Bowl, which is on the docket for Sunday, Dec. 8.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03