Before the 2012 fall sports season, Rhode Island Interscholastic League officials crafted a Division I football schedule that would be used for the next two years.
But same old, same old is anything but mundane in this case. In fact, it’s fantastic because apparently somebody had a crystal ball on the table when the schedule was sketched out.
For the second year in a row, the top teams in D-I are heading into the last half of the league season with games against each other still on the docket. The top five teams in the current standings – Bishop Hendricken, Barrington, Portsmouth, La Salle and Cranston East – will get together eight times in the final five weeks of the season.
If you’ve been waiting for some good football weather and some good football teams, your time has come.
Only twice in the first four weeks of the season have those five teams played. Barrington won a shoot-out with East and Portsmouth ran past La Salle.
Every other match-up is on the horizon, and it’s going to be fun.
The gauntlet begins this week when Hendricken visits Cranston East on Friday at 7 p.m. The Hawks will be the poster boys for the big finish every week. They have four games left, and the four opponents are East, Portsmouth, Barrington and La Salle.
The first step could be one of the toughest. The Hawks and ’Bolts were ranked first and second in the preseason Rhode Island Sports Media High School Football Poll. East has since lost to Barrington but remains No. 3 in the poll and is undoubtedly a Super Bowl contender.
It’ll be by far the toughest test to date for the unbeaten Hawks, but it won’t be the last. The Hawks play a high-flying Portsmouth team next week before a week off. The season concludes with a game against fellow unbeaten Barrington and the finale against rival La Salle.
By then, the playoff picture will be in focus but it could look very different than it does now thanks to these next five weeks. The Hawks have the big four games, but Barrington, East, Portsmouth and La Salle also have three each against each other.
And that means there’s a big one every week. It’s Hendricken-East this week and Hendricken-Portsmouth the week after. When the Hawks take a week off as the calendar turns to November, it’ll clear the stage for La Salle-Barrington and East-Portsmouth, which could be the shoot-out to end all shoot-outs. Then it’s Barrington-Hendricken and East-La Salle. And in the final week of pre-Thanksgiving play, it’s Hendricken-La Salle and Barrington-Portsmouth.
It’s a lot to digest, and it could be pretty wild. Mark your calendars, and then mark them again and again and again.
The schedule makers have given Rhode Island football a gift. It’s anybody’s guess how it plays out.
Is that crystal ball still laying around somewhere?
William Geoghegan is the sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.