Woonsocket (R.I.) football refocuses after upset

Call it a blip on the proverbial radar screen. Call it an aberration. Call it a fluke.

Rhode IslandCall it any of the above.

But after defeating four Division II-A opponents (five overall including a non-league victory) first-place Woonsocket found out -- much to the Villa Novans’ distaste -- what it’s like to exit a field with their first number under the loss column.

Rogers, who plays in II-B, upset the previously undefeated Villa Novans, 21-14, on Oct. 19 in a non-league game.

For want of a better phrase call it a wakeup call because in their four victories over division opponents, the Villa Novans had outscored them by a combined margin of 73-7.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Woonsocket coach/alumnus Carnell Henderson. “It’s a humbling loss because you want to win every game. But if there ever was a day to have a bad game this was it.”

The reason being non-league games don’t count in the standings and have zero effect on teams’ playoff chances. Henderson was, oh, upset at what transpired on each side of the ball.

Rogers turned the ball three times inside the Vikings 15-yard line including twice in the fourth quarter. But Woonsocket only capitalized on one of those golden opportunities.

At the risk of using a baseball metaphor, batting .333 is great in that sport but a percentage of that nature is mediocre (or worse) in football.

On the flip side, Rogers passed for two touchdowns – the first touchdown passes the Villa Novans have allowed all season.

“Our defense had been playing extremely well,” said Henderson. “I felt we had a group of young guys who could play aggressive on defense.”

In retrospect, maybe the Villa Novans were too aggressive on defense and it cost them. That performance was in stark contrast to the one they delivered in a 12-7 victory over Westerly when they only allowed three pass completions.

“We got off to a good start but we knew there still was plenty of work to do,” said Henderson. “It seemed that everyone played their worst game at the same time (against Rogers).

“It was humbling but now we go back to the drawing board try to get ready for a return to league play.”

Being humbled notwithstanding, the Villa Novans already hold the first tiebreaker should that come into play at the end of the season (record in head-to-head competition).

Johnston and Warwick Veterans are tied for second at 3-1. But the Villa Novans have beaten the Panthers 14-0 and the Hurricanes 27-0.

In fact, the three league opponents left on Woonsocket’s schedule have a combined record of 4-8.

Are Clippers sailing toward another title: Unlike its Blackstone Valley neighbor, Cumberland didn’t stub its collective toes and beat Mount Hope, 28-12, in a non-league game.

Junior quarterback Tyler Calabro has been leading the offense for the Clippers who are seeking a second consecutive Division II state title.

Through the victory over the Huskies, Calabro has passed for 705 yards and six touchdowns.

But a traffic jam does exist at the top of the II-B standings.

Cumberland, North Kingstown and Rogers are each 3-1. And here’s where it gets complicated as far as the first tiebreaker is concerned.

North Kingstown defeated Cumberland, 36-14. Cumberland beat Rogers, 27-20. And Rogers clipped North Kingstown. 34-8.

Depending on how the rest of the season plays out, Interscholastic League officials may have to dig deep into their Blue Book (which includes all rules and regulations) to determine playoff seeding.

Color the Hawks “blue”: While much has been made of the improved passing of Hendricken quarterback Patrick Gill, the one Hawks who deserves some major props is running back Remington Blue.

In seven overall games, Blue has chewed up 906 yards of real estate on 67 carries (an average of 13.5 yards per carry) and scored 13 touchdowns.

Obviously, his ability to shred opposing defenses is a major reason why the Hawks lead Division I with a 5-0 record and are 7-0 overall.

Going into this weekend the Hawks lead second-place Barrington (4-0) by a half-game. Barring an upset, first place could be decided on Nov. 8, when the Hawks host the Eagles.

Plugging some holes: While it’s too early to be thinking about basketball season for the fans, that’s not the case for a few athletic directors, especially when it comes to their girls’ basketball teams.

Marty Crowley, who coached a total of 20 years at Tolman, Burrillville and Cranston West, resigned his job with the Falcons and accepted the same position at King Philip Regional (Mass.).

Moving to KP along with Crowley is his assistant coach, Lindsay Rachlow.

After 23 years prowling the sidelines for Exeter/West Greenwich, Steve McGrane has resigned that position.

Under McGrane, the Scarlet Knights captured the 2004 Division II state title and moved up to Division I the next season.

Playing in the state’s top division, McGrane guided his girls at least to the quarterfinals nine consecutive seasons and reached the semis three times.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus 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.