There was a time in the not so distant past when the Bishop Hendricken football team was chasing one title, trying to end a drought that lasted 13 years.
Here in 2014, with order restored, the Hawks are no longer trying to erase the demons of close calls and the memories of victories that somehow got away. Instead, they’re chasing a fifth title – in a row.
My, how times have changed.
It always seemed odd that the school that won more titles than every school in the state in nearly every sport wasn’t winning those titles in football. Whether that phenomenon can be explained or it’s just some version of dumb luck is debatable, but the Hawks have certainly righted the ship in a big way.
They didn’t just get the monkey off their back – they suplexed it to the ground and then banished it back into the jungle.
The trendy topic at this time last season was whether or not Hendricken could win its fourth straight championship in the same division, a feat never before accomplished in the “Super Bowl era,” which spanned from 1972 onward.
With a 45-34 victory over Cranston East in last year’s Super Bowl, they crossed that one off the list and finalized one of the most iconic moments in Rhode Island high school sports history.
Yet, just when you thought there weren’t any more milestones to reach, there’s still a little bit more out there for Hendricken to do.
The trendy topic this season should be whether or not the Hawks can accomplish a feat that has never happened in Rhode Island’s high school history – pre or post Super Bowl era.
No one has won five top division championships in a row, dating back to the start of recorded championships in 1932.
With fewer teams and more powerhouses back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, it’s almost hard to believe that no team ever managed to win five in a row, but I assure you it’s true.
Cranston, La Salle, Rogers – they were all great. A few teams grabbed four in a row, and there were some five out of sixes and sixes out of sevens. But never five straight.
I don’t really think Hendricken needs any motivation at this point to continue its ascent to the top of Rhode Island high school football. If you asked 10 people within the statewide football scene which program was the premier one in the state, each and every one of them would say Hendricken, and keeping that up is important to the Hawks. You can tell by talking to them that each year is different, and no one is satisfied with the accomplishments of the past. The players are anxious to carve out their own place in the Hawks’ current historical run, and the coaches don’t get tired of beating La Salle, beating Barrington, beating Portsmouth and winning championships.
There’s no resting on their laurels.
With more roster turnover than they’ve had the past few years during this incredible run, getting No. 5 might end up being the most difficult one of all. But it’s far from unlikely. The Hawks will almost certainly open the season ranked No. 1 in the Rhode Island Sports Media Poll, and it would be hard to argue that they don’t belong there.
Staying there is the hard part, but if it happens, Hendricken would take another step toward re-writing the state’s dynasty rankings.
Four titles separated the Hawks from the rest of the state since 1972. Five would put make them the best since 1932.
Then, maybe next year, we start talking about West Warwick. The Wizards are the only team to win six consecutive championships in any division, doing so in Division II from 1949-54.
But that’s a conversation for another time. For now, baby steps.
It takes a little while to become the best of all time.
Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.