New England Roundup: Rhode Island

When East Providence routed Cranston West, 35-14, on September 24 in a Division I game, the victory underscored what most fans of Rhode Island high school football thought: the Townies had a legitimate chance to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2006 – when they beat Hendricken for the state title.

Rhode IslandAmong other things, the Townies were benefitting from the return of junior running back Jalin Braxton, who missed most of last season due to injuries.

Braxton was at his best against the Falcons when he ran for a quartet of touchdowns, including one that covered 51 yards.

Now, flash forward to last weekend when the Townies visited Portsmouth – a one-time Division I power that’s fallen on hard times in recent years.

All the Patriots did was pull off one of the season’s more impressive upsets by beating the Townies, 24-14 as quarterback Ben Willett scored one touchdown and passed for three more.

Moreover, the Townies’ final score was irrelevant since it came in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. What was relevant were the 14 points Portsmouth’s defense held East Providence to – since the Townies had outscored their opponents 135-26 in four overall games.

Since Hendricken beat Cranston East, 16-8, and Barrington played a non-league game, the Hawks (3-0) and Eagles (2-0) emerged from the weekend as the only undefeated teams in the state’s top division.

Even though all coaches regardless of sport recite the “We take them one game at a time” mantra without any provocation, two upcoming games are worth noting on your calendar:

* October 22, when Hendricken visits East Providence.

* November 5, when the Townies travel to Barrington.

Both games could go a long way toward determining the division champion, who would earn the number-one seed in the Division I Tournament.


Because Exeter/West Greenwich plays in Division IV, the Scarlet Knights frequently are dwarfed by the likes of perennial state powers like Hendricken, La Salle, East Providence, Barrington, etc.

Senior running back Al Georgio is doing his best to draw attention to his team, which leads the division with a 3-0 record. In a word, Georgio is shredding opposing defenses.

Through the Scarlet Knights’ four overall games, Georgio has rushed for 975 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Since Exeter/West Greenwich has seven regular-season games remaining – plus, quite likely, at least one in the Division IV Tournament –the stats Georgio could rack up are mind-boggling.


In other games of note:

* La Salle barely staved off defeat against Division I newcomer South Kingstown on October 1 by edging the Rebels, 7-3, thanks to Josh Morris’ 20-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

* For the first time since 2005, Tolman is undefeated in league play (Division II-B) after three games.

The Tigers reached that mark by blanking Pilgrim, 35-0, as Ousame Samb scored on a 21-yard run and Shayne Taylor returned an interception 50 yards for a score – all in a span of 43 seconds in the third quarter.

In their three league victories, the Tigers have allowed a total of only 304 yards in total offense.

* Barrington played one of the more intriguing non-league games this season against long-time Massachusetts Division III power Bishop Feehan – and coasted to a 43-22 victory.

Alexander Spiess paced the Eagles by scoring three touchdowns, including one on an 85-yard return of a fumble recovery.

* Tiverton shed that proverbial two-ton gorilla by posting its first Division III victory of the season, 12-6 over Classical when John DeCosta threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Robert Kisor with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.


Four men will be inducted into the East Providence High School Hall of Fame at the 27th annual ceremony on October 24:

* Ed Cronan, a retired guidance counselor, coached cross country plus track and field.

His honors include being named Rhode Island Cross Country Coach of the Year and Outstanding Educator by the East Bay Women’s Club.

* Colonel Robert Germani ’79, who was a varsity hockey captain.

He received numerous awards while serving in the Rhode Island Air National Guard as Chief of Security Police, Security Forces Commander and the Detachment Commander for the 201st Mission Support Directorate.

* Robert Silva ’57, who was a standout wrestler for the Townies.

Silva was one of two students selected as the “Most Likely to Succeed.”

He was appointed as legal counsel for the Rhode Island State Resources Board, the State Lottery Commission and the East Providence School Committee.

* James Viara ’62, who also excelled at wrestling for East Providence.

A self-made businessman, Viara during his retirement served as a mentor for young men from dysfunctional families.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball and hockey and minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y., he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame, which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.