September 30, 2014
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Warwick stars set for Governor's Cup
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AT THE HELM: Hendricken quarterback Ryan Brannigan will be under center for the Rhode Island Governor's Cup team when it takes on Connecticut.

It’s been nearly a decade since Rhode Island has raised the Governor’s cup trophy, and thanks to head coach Chris Skurka, everybody on this year’s team is well aware of that fact.

And they’re doing all they can to be the team that reverses the trend.

Skurka, the Cumberland high school football coach who is the head man for the Rhode Island’s Governor’s Cup team this season, has reminded his all-star squad relentlessly during practice that it hasn’t beaten its counterpart from Connecticut in the annual game between the two states since 2002.

“Most of these kids are very good players on their own teams, and they want to be the best,” Warwick Vets linebacker Nick Salois said on Saturday. “They want to be the first Rhode Island team to beat Connecticut in nine years. The coaches remind us every day.”

This year’s game is set to take place on Saturday in Connecticut and will be the 14th match-up between the two sides, which pits the best seniors in either state against each other for a summer football game that has become decidedly one-sided.

Connecticut has won the last nine meetings between the two schools after Rhode Island won three of the first four. That gives Connecticut a 10-3 overall edge, and it will be looking to extend its winning streak to 10 this year.

Last year’s game was close through the first two quarters, with Connecticut leading 10-6 at halftime, before Connecticut blew off the doors in the second half and cruised to a 37-6 win.

But the 2012 Rhode Island team, which features eight players from Warwick schools on its 56-man roster, is united in its quest to finally get back in the win column.

While it was a little strange initially playing on the same team as some of the players that they played against during the season, everyone has come together and started to focus on the future, as opposed to this past fall.

“We’re team Rhody now,” Hendricken center Andrew Breting said. “We’re all together.”

Breting is one of five Hendricken players on the roster, along with starting quarterback Ryan Brannigan, cornerback Aaron Webb, wide receiver Laionel Cintron and offensive lineman Max Heintzelman. Salois is the lone player from Vets, while Pilgrim defensive lineman Alex Leddy and Toll Gate lineman/tight end Nick Carr are also on the team.

All eight players would clearly like to see significant playing time, but simply being selected for the team as one of Rhode Island’s best is an honor in and of itself.

“This is such an honor,” Leddy said. “Everyone out here is such good football players. It’s nice to have the competition. Most of us are coming from schools where there wasn’t too much competition. We all started pretty easily. Here, we have to work every day to just have a chance.”

And getting back into the swing of being on a football field hasn’t been too difficult either, despite the fact that most of the all-stars haven’t played since November.

Once the players get the uniform on and head out onto the field – and take a few hits – those familiar feelings come right back.

“It’s fun to play with these guys one more time,” Brannigan said. “After the season, we started to miss it. It’s fun to play again, especially with all these other guys, too.”

Those other guys include five players from La Salle, the team that Hendricken upset in the Division I Super Bowl this past fall. But there are no hard feelings, and everyone is simply turning their attention to the big game they’ll all be playing as new teammates.

“There are no bad relationships on the team or anything,” Brannigan said.

The Connecticut team that Rhode Island will be going up against figures to be formidable, as it usually features multiple Division I college commits.

This year, a combine was held for the team and a group of over 170 prospective players was whittled down to a total of just 55.

But Leddy is confident in Rhode Island’s team, no matter how much Connecticut is considered the favorite.

“I already hear the coaches say that Connecticut doesn’t want to play Rhode Island anymore because they feel like we’re not good enough for them,” Leddy said. “It would be great to beat them. We all know that they don’t respect Rhode Island that much as far as football goes.”

After last year’s game was played at Southington High School, the game this year will return to the University of Connecticut’s Rentschler Field, which is in East Hartford.

For the majority of the players on the Rhode Island roster, the game will be the only chance they’ll have to play in a Division I college stadium.

Rentschler seats 40,000 people, and while it likely won’t be filled, it should still be a venue unlike anything they’ve seen.

“It’s going to be a great experience to play at UConn,” Brannigan said. “Big stadium, lots of people.”

The game will be held at 4:30 p.m., this Saturday. Tickets will be sold at the gate.

And Rhode Island will see if it can spring the upset, and put an end to its lengthy losing streak.

“You don’t play football to lose,” Webb said. “I’m on the field to win every game.”

Rhode Island Roster

Victor Adewusi East Providence

Kyle Audette Chariho

Andrew Breting Hendricken

Ryan Brannigan Hendricken

Jalin Braxton East Providence

Drew Brown Barrington

Brian Buxton Cumberland

Angel Camilo Cranston East

Nick Carr Toll Gate

Aaron Chartier East Providence

Laionel Cintron Hendricken

Sean Conley South Kingstown

Kevin Deschamps Burrillville

Jack Durkin Narragansett

Kyle Eva Chariho

Xavier Ferland-Haroun Cranston West

Cassidy Ferraro Chariho

Mitchell Gaboury Cumberland

Andre Gilbert Tolman

Mark Griffith Narragansett

Max Heintzelman Hendricken

Thomas Hurley St. Raphael

Alexander Leddy Pilgrim

Kevin Mason East Greenwich

Zachary Mays St. Raphael

Jason Meunier La Salle

Patrick Miranda St. Raphael

Jayquan Monteiro Mt. Pleasant

Trevor Morgera Rogers

Theo Moskala Mt. Hope

Peter Picerelli La Salle

Colton Place Chariho

Cody Platt Rogers

Edward Pupoh Central

Andrew Read EWG

Spencer Read Westerly

MarcAnthony Reynoso La Salle

Beau Richards Cranston West

Davon Robertson St. Raphael

Tyler Rocha Cranston West

Matt Rousseau Cranston West

Jack Ryan Barrington

Nicholas Salois Warwick

Joe San Martin Mt. Hope

Tyler Somberg Moses Brown

Bryan Stetson Cranston West

Homlin Taylor Tolman

Jamal Tucker Shea

Cory Tweedie St. Raphael

Mike Washington Central

Reeyon Watts Rogers

Aaron Webb Hendricken

Frank Wiley Middletown

Preston Woodbury La Salle

Sean Young La Salle

Samuel Yules Moses Brown

Connecticut Roster

Mike Antonio Cromwell

Aaron Berardino Windsor

Brandon Birdsell Bethel

Shaun Bowman Cheshire

Jawad Chisholm Bunnell

Nicholas Colasate Glastonbury

Ben Compton Windsor

Matt Corcoran Stamford

Pat D’Amato Xavier

Brett Director Cromwell

Ian Dugger Hall

Matt Duignan Masuk

Jevan Elmore New London

Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn Valley Regional/O. Lyme

Timothy Farina East Lyme

Jose Forestier Bulkeley

Evan Foster Bunnell

Chandler Foster Stamford

Henry Foye Hand

Vance Giarratana Hand

Leaon Gordon Brookfield

Wesley Hopkins Northwest Catholic

Jamar Johnson Bloomfield

Emir Kuljancic Wethersfield

Sebastian Little Cheshire

Ryan Lumpkin Windsor

Brandon Lytton Torrington

Sean Marinan Jr. Xavier

Brandon Martin Notre Dame

Hakeem Martin Ansonia

Kyle McKinnon New London

Anthony Morales Cromwell

Genois Nelson Maloney

Devon O’Reilly Glastonbury

Daniel Palmer Hartford Public

Matt Paola Pomperaug

AJ Pascuzzo Sheehan

Jason Piontkowski Masuk

Khamil Rangolam Hillhouse

Ludovic Richardson Notre Dame

Maleek Riley Northwest Catholic

Robert Rose Shelton

Ardian Sahinovic New Fairfield

Jovan Santos-Knox Xavier

Dallas Smith Ledyard

Isaiah Thomasson Maloney

Tommy Undercuffler Berlin

Dylan Vano Ansonia

Giovanni Viven New Britain

Zach Voytek Trumbull

Jonathan Ware RHAM

Billy Wayrauch Cheshire

Austin Wezenski Xavier

Brandon Williams Bassick

Tyler Wood Ansonia


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