It was already an unbelievable run for the Bishop Hendricken football team. Now it’s the best run in Rhode Island high school football history.
Behind six rushing touchdowns and standout performances by MVP Remington Blue and junior star Lee Moses, the No. 2 seeded Hawks managed to out-score No. 4 Cranston East on Sunday in the Division I Super Bowl for a 45-34 victory and their fourth consecutive title.
Hendricken became the first team in the Super Bowl era, which began in 1972, to win four straight titles in the same division. Six others have won three in a row, but thanks to Sunday the Hawks are now in a class that is all their own.
“We would have gotten none of this if it wasn’t for the first Super Bowl, the second Super Bowl, the third Super Bowl – all the guys before us,” said Blue, who led all rushers with 201 yards and four touchdowns, earning him his second consecutive Super Bowl MVP award. “There was definitely a lot of pressure.”
Blue scored three times in the second half, including his team’s final two touchdowns in the last six minutes of the game to clinch the victory.
It was as perfect a finale as there could have been for the Hawks’ most prolific offensive player each of the last two seasons.
“That last drive, on the sidelines we were trying to get that first down,” Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said. “I turned to (offensive coordinator Frank Pantaleo) and I said, ‘We’re going to give the ball to the horse.’ That’s what he’s been for two years. When you need a first down, you need the tough yardage, he gets it.”
Moses was just as important. The junior, who was the state runner-up in the outdoor track 100 meter dash, flashed his speed at the end of the first half in what may have been the single most important play of Hendricken’s season.
After East had just taken the lead at 14-13 thanks to a 3-yard pass from quarterback Alex Corvese to Jimmy Saab with 24 seconds left in the first half, Hendricken sent Moses back to return.
Marven Beauvais took the kickoff for East and surprisingly sent it deep to Moses, who caught the ball at the 12-yard line.
“During the season not that many teams kick it deep because of our speed,” Moses said. “I was surprised when I actually got the ball, but I just wanted to make a big play for my team.”
He took off up the middle and then broke to the left sideline, turning on the jets after midfield and cruising untouched into the end zone for a touchdown. Because of that play, Hendricken went into the half leading 19-14 instead of trailing at the break for what would have been just the second time all season.
“That kick return changed everything,” Hendricken quarterback Patrick Gill said. “Going into the half, we would have been down. That touchdown made us go into the half with our heads up. He’s a great player all-around.”
East head coach Tom Centore said the deep kickoff was not intentional.
“It was supposed to be a squib kick,” Centore said. “He got it up and you can only do so much.”
Hendricken was due to get the ball to open the second half, and in a game where neither defense was stopping the other team’s offense with any consistency, the Hawks had a chance to take a two-score lead and put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat.
They made sure to take advantage. On the opening drive of the third quarter, Hendricken went 53 yards in six plays, with Blue ending the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run on a third-and-6 play. Robert Campbell’s extra point made it 26-14.
“That changed a lot,” Centore said. “I still think we believed we’d be okay, but they got the ball and scored again. Now you’re chasing two instead of one, and that’s a big swing.”
East, the highest-scoring team in Division I, was far from out of it with the playmakers on its roster. It came right back and made it a one-score game again as star running back/receiver Marquem Monroe scored his second of three touchdowns on the day, this one from 3 yards out to bring the score to 26-21.
And on the ensuing possession, the ’Bolts forced a Hendricken punt – its only one of the day – giving them new life.
With the ball and a chance to take the lead for the first time in the second half, East picked up one first down and moved the ball to Hendricken’s 44-yard line before Corvese threw an incomplete pass on third down and was sacked by linebacker Tom St. Pierre on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.
“We knew what we had to do,” St. Pierre said. “We knew we had to step up.”
The Hawks never let East touch the ball again while down just one score. Moses broke a 32-yard run on the ensuing possession to get the ball deep into East territory, and he scored on the same play from 8 yards out to extend the Hendricken lead to 33-21.
“We got a defensive stop when we needed to and I think our best defense today was a strong offense,” Croft said. “That’s what’s going to happen with a team like East – they’re going to put points on the board, you’ve got to try to stay with them.”
East didn’t back down, getting the ball early in the fourth quarter and coming right back with a big play of its own. On a third-and-10, Corvese found Beauvais on a wide receiver screen that went for 60 yards, down to Hendricken’s 12-yard line. On the next play, Monroe charged into the end zone for his third touchdown. Logan McConaghy’s extra point narrowed the gap to 33-28.
But the Hawks’ offense wouldn’t be denied.
It took over deep in its own territory and moved the ball at will, with Moses making the biggest play of the drive on a 52-yard jet sweep. Blue scored his third touchdown two plays later on an option from the 12-yard line, making it 39-28.
Then Hendricken got another stop. East couldn’t get anything going on offense, going four-and-out and giving the ball right back to the Hawks. On the first play from scrimmage, Blue broke free from 42 yards away for what was essentially the title-clinching score. Hendricken led 45-28 at that point with just 4:22 remaining.
“I felt pretty darn comfortable here,” Blue said. “I was in the big game last year as a junior. I just came out, gave 110-percent. The offensive line, I’ve got to thank those guys. All my success would be nothing without them.”
East had one more charge left, as it worked the ball down the field quickly, eventually getting a 29-yard touchdown pass from Corvese to Beauvais with 2:04 remaining. But the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Hendricken, and one first down later, the Hawks were free to celebrate another championship, this one perhaps the most special of them all.
“It feels great,” Moses said. “Coming into the game, we really wanted this one for all the guys that were in the past and for everybody that ever played on the team, winning three straight. We really wanted to win the fourth one.”
Hendricken scored the first points of the game, as it stopped East on the opening possession and then found the end zone three plays later on a 27-yard run by Blue. East answered with a touchdown on a 6-yard run by Monroe, and McConaghy’s extra point gave the ’Bolts a 7-6 first quarter lead.
The Hawks looked ready to respond right away, as they drove down the 1-yard line, but Gill fumbled the ball trying to get into the end zone, and East recovered.
With a chance to add to their lead, the ’Bolts drove right back down the field as well, only to see their drive also end with a turnover. From the 8-yard line, Corvese threw a slant pass in the end zone intended for Beauvais but Hendricken defensive back Matt Duffie made an acrobatic diving interception in the end zone.
“I thought Marven had that ball caught in the end zone,” Centore said. “We didn’t make that play. The slant was wide open. We’ve completed that pass hundreds of times.”
Hendricken took the lead back on its next drive, getting a 1-yard touchdown run by Blue on a fourth-and-goal play to go up 13-7. East then got the touchdown from Saab to re-take the lead before Moses’s kickoff return gave the Hawks the lead for good.
“My heart was in my throat the entire game because you know they’re going to go down the field at any point, 80, 70-yard plays – they’re going to break something,” Croft said. “It was a nerve-wracking game.”
Corvese finished the game 17-of-30 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Saab led all receivers with nine catches for 118 yards and a score, while Beauvais had 112 yards and a touchdown. Monroe ran for 57 yards and three touchdowns and added two catches for 39 yards.
To go with Blue’s 201 yards on the ground, Hendricken got 92 from Moses and 45 from Gill as part of a 365-yard team effort.
“We always want to establish a run game,” Gill said. “We went out there and they couldn’t stop the run. We were getting 15, 20 yards on every run. So coach didn’t want to go away from it. He just kept going to what was working.”
The championship was Hendricken’s 10th in the state’s highest division and 12th overall.
It will be remembered as one of the best – and the one that made history.
“At the beginning of the season, everybody talked about Cranston East,” Blue said. “People were definitely down on us. To come out and beat Cranston East for the Super Bowl, it’s just indescribable.”