Rhode Island high school football fans don’t have to wait long for a Hendricken-La Salle matchup this season, as the two teams that have met in the last three Super Bowls will take to Hendricken’s newly-renovated field to open league play on Friday at 7 p.m.
Both the Rams and Hawks should be playing at a high level going into Friday night after opening their respective schedules against New York powerhouses in non-league action last week.
La Salle fell to Minsignor Farrell of Staten Island, 20-7. Conversely, Hendricken traveled to New Rochelle, New York to play defending Catholic AA champion Iona Prep. The Hawks hung tough with the Gaels for a while, but ultimately fell by the final score of 40-22. A few highlights from that game for the Hawks included a long touchdown run from senior running back Devin Rivet, two interceptions, including one for a pick six, by senior defensive back Dylan Gardner and a short touchdown run from sophomore quarterback Tom Comella.
Hendricken now turns its attention to La Salle, which has a strong core of players back for this season, as opposed to the Hawks, who lost several key contributors from their 2016 title-winning squad.
La Salle will have seniors at play-making positions on offense, as it will return Andrew Wright at quarterback. Wright broke his collarbone early in the first quarter of last year’s Super Bowl on a short touchdown plunge that gave La Salle the lead at the time. He had a strong junior campaign, tossing for 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. First Team All-State running back Leroy DeOliveira will return for his senior season after compiling over 1,200 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns as a junior. Jake Ribeiro, La Salle’s top receiver last year with 39 receptions, is also back. Hendricken’s strong group of defensive backs should be able to give Wright a tough time in the passing game, but containing DeOliveira is always a hard task for any La Salle opponent. Limiting DeOliveira’s production will certainly be a key for the Hendricken defense.
On the other side of the ball, Hendricken has talent at offense, but some of that talent is inexperienced. Rivet is one known commodity that is returning for the Hawks, and he’ll look to build off an impressive performance against Iona Prep last week. He has the ability to not only change a game out of the backfield, but in the kick return game, as well. La Salle knows that well after Rivet bolted his way to the end zone on a kickoff against the Rams during the regular season last year. The Hawks’ offense will be trying to break down a La Salle defense led by Ribeiro and Dante Delbonis, who combined for 136 tackles a season ago.
The Hawks will be looking for their sixth straight win in the head-to-head matchup. The Rams haven’t defeated Hendricken since the regular season of 2014.
The game will air live on YurView (Cox channels 4 and 1004) and online at YurView.com.