The Hendricken football team opened its league season on Friday evening when it hosted South Kingstown in a rematch of last year’s Division I semifinals. The Hawks and Rebels both had trouble moving the ball in the first half, but Hendricken found its offense in the second half, as it took over and grabbed a 24-0 win.
The Hawks – who improved to 2-0 overall – had beaten the Rebels 42-14 in last season’s playoff match-up, but Friday’s game looked much more evenly matched, at least for the first 24 minutes.
Both teams leaned heavily on the run in the first, with neither team having much success. The Hawks and Rebels both punted on their first drives and after an eight-play drive, to the Hendricken 20-yard line, the Rebels turned it over on downs on their second drive.
After the turnover both squads traded punts, jockeying for field position. Six consecutive drives resulted in punts, the last of which didn’t travel far and gave South Kingstown the ball at the Hendricken 39-yard line with 1:14 left in the first half. Quarterback Michael Harrington found Matthew Sutherland coming out of the backfield for 17 yards right off the bat, and two plays later Nolan Reiftseck found a seam in the defense for 12 yards, setting up a first-and-10 just outside the 10-yard line. But the Rebels drive stalled, forcing a 26-yard field goal attempt from Michael Fagan in the closing seconds of the half. The kick was short and the game reached halftime with no score.
Hendricken struggled on both lines in the first half, and it felt it lost the physical battle, despite being tied at halftime.
“They just outplayed us,” Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said. “The kids were flat coming out. And they just played more physical. We made a few adjustments at halftime, but I just told them if they don’t start blocking we aren’t going to win this game.”
The Hawks got the ball first after halftime, and after two consecutive carries by Remmington Blue, which netted 28 yards, Hendricken was inside Rebel territory at the South Kingstown 43. Croft then opened up the playbook and quarterback Patrick Gill found Kazre Cummings on a sideline post for a 43-yard touchdown, breaking the scoreless tie. The extra point from Bobby Lineberger was good and Hendricken led 7-0.
The Hawks’ defense then forced the Rebels to punt on the ensuing drive. The Hawks took advantage of their good field position and on the third play of the drive Power Kanga got the carry and bounced it outside for a 25-yard touchdown run, upping the lead to 14-0 after the extra point.
After a personal foul on the kickoff, the Rebels started their next drive on their own 43-yard line. But again their running game proved ineffective, resulting in another three-and-out. The Rebels’ one-dimensional approach on offense enabled the Hawks to stack the line of scrimmage, as South Kingstown continued to struggle.
Hendricken took advantage, as it marched down the field for a third consecutive drive. The Hawks went 74 yards in five plays, the big play being a 54-yard pass and catch from Gill to Mitchell Lucci, pushing the lead to 21-0 with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Hendricken added a Bobby Lineberger field goal in the fourth quarter, and South Kingstown could do nothing to narrow the gap.
Despite the win, Croft wasn’t especially impressed with the effort by the Hawks.
“I’m not happy,” Croft said. “The performance was not what I expected. South Kingstown just beat us up front and we had too many penalties. And I just told them that we aren’t going to be the type of team we want to be if we can’t clean that up and be more physical. They’re going to have a tough week of practice.”
The Hawks will try to make another notch in the win column on Friday at East Providence at 7 p.m.