Amazing feat gets a sequel
Last year, when the Bishop Hendricken football team beat La Salle in the Division I Super Bowl, it was hailed as the biggest upset in the history of this state. We championed the cause here, writing the words "biggest upset in Super Bowl history" almost enough times to fill up an entire paper.
The reason we wrote it so often, though, is because it was true.
The 6-2 Hawks, 25-point losers to the unbeaten Rams during the regular season, did the impossible when they pulled off a 17-14 victory in that Super Bowl.
But if that win in 2011 was "the impossible," how do we quantify what happened on Sunday? Is there a stronger word for déjà vu?
Severe underdogs for the second consecutive season, Hendricken again shocked the unbeaten, star-studded, veteran-laden Rams, this time 26-20, to win its third consecutive championship.
It was an even bigger upset. La Salle was supposed to be the team with unfinished business. It was more dominant this year than last year. It had an explosive senior class. This year's Hendricken team was probably less talented than the year before.
All the pieces were in place for a La Salle victory, and an easy one, at that. The gap between the two programs this year was even bigger than the gap last year. Supposedly.
To put it another way, most people would have been stunned if the Hawks had been able to put up a decent fight. A one-score loss would have been proclaimed a valiant effort.
If Vegas set odds on high school games, La Salle would have been at least 14-point favorites, probably more.
And most of the action would have been on La Salle.
As it turns out, most people would have lost.
"Dedication, hard work and commitment," said senior linebacker Jarrid Witherspoon, who changed the game with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Hawks a lead they would never give up. "We always believed in each other."
Just about everybody is a believer now. One win as a heavy underdog might be a fluke, but two in a row certainly is not. That's a trend, and a pretty incredible one.
The script is so similar that it's almost scary. Both seasons, La Salle has finished 8-0, and almost all of those 16 wins have come in dominant fashion.
Those wins include two victories over Hendricken, by a combined 46 points. Both seasons, the Hawks ended up at 6-2, with the No. 2 seed, knowing that if they even reached the Super Bowl, no one would give them a chance against the mighty Rams.
Well, nobody outside of themselves, that is.
"We had a great week of practice," quarterback Patrick Gill said. "We did everything together, we believed and it showed today when we got out on the field."
And both seasons, the Hawks dictated play in the Super Bowl. They were the ones who set the pace. They held the high-powered La Salle attack, with All-Staters all over the field, well below its standard performance, and they did it twice. Meanwhile, they steadily took care of business on the offensive end, doing just enough to pull out the wins.
For two consecutive seasons, Hendricken has trailed La Salle in style points, in athletes and in regular season wins.
But the Hawks have the rings.
"Our kids, it doesn't take a lot to get them up for this game," defensive coordinator Mike Green said. "They're a good bunch of kids, and they really responded well."
Upsets don't happen that often in high school football. Before these last two years, seven of the last eight champions had been the higher seed in the championship game.
Since 1990, only three unbeaten teams have lost in the Division I Super Bowl. The first time it happened was way back in 2002.
The second time was in 2011. The third time was Sunday.
Because of that, the Hawks are now the proud owners of not just the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, but the two biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. In consecutive seasons, they've pulled off the impossible.
"It just feels surreal," senior defensive back Romario Rousseau said. "It's almost like we're a dynasty."
Rousseau can go ahead and get rid of the almost in that sentence. Hendricken is a dynasty, even if no one thought they could be. They've got the hardware to prove it.
Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor at the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and firstname.lastname@example.org.