After a lengthy playoff drought, the Cranston West football team beat the odds and made it to the big dance last season for the first time in a decade.
After a tough loss to rival Cranston East in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Falcons hope to flip the script and make a deep run this fall.
“We have a lot of young guys this year but we still have a lot of guys returning and we have some really good chemistry this year. We’ve been looking really good, really crisp, and we’re working really hard,” said West senior Evan Degaitas. “We’re playing with a chip on our shoulder since we lost to our rival last year in the playoffs. It left a bad taste in our mouths because we thought we had a really good team, we do have a really good team. That gives us the motivation to keep working hard, get a few playoff wins and a super bowl ring.”
Last year’s experience will be key for the Falcons moving forward, according to fellow senior Jordan Catelli.
“We just want to build on what we did last year. Last year definitely ended the way we didn’t want it to but we hope to make the playoffs and continue off of that. That experience helped us a lot, making it to the playoffs has kind of showed us how much we want it again this season and showed us that we can compete with the better teams,” said Catelli.
Although the Falcons gained some momentum with the big year, they will be going into 2018 with a new look, welcoming nearly 50 underclassmen to the mix. The seniors have been impressed with what they have seen from the youngsters in the early going.
“They’ve been great, they’re working hard. It’s good competition, they respect us but they’re working just as hard. They’re competing with us and keeping us on our toes,” said Degaitas.
“It’s exciting and there’s a lot to look forward to with all of the new faces. We have a lot of young talent, we’re really close with the young guys. We’re a really tight team and we work well together,” added Catelli.
Another leader in the West locker room is junior Cam Alves, who is ready to step up into a leadership role this season.
“It’s been fun. They tell you that high school flies by but I still feel like a freshman. We definitely have to help the younger kids along the way, teach them how to do things the right way for both the present and the future,” said Alves.
Alves also feels that last year’s run will provide a push for the Falcons as the season approaches.
“(Making the playoffs) really opened the door for us and we need to step up and compete moving forward. We have the ability to, we just need to make every Friday count,” said Alves.
The Falcons also welcome new head coach Tom Milewski, who was a longtime assistant coach on the Falcons’ staff.
“Everything has flowed the same. Obviously, (former West coach Steve Stoehr) isn’t here and we miss him but Coach Milewski has done a great job stepping up. He’s very organized, he’s always detailed … we’re always going to be prepared,” said Alves.
Catelli and Degaitas hope to make the most of their final years as Falcons.
“Doing the best we can is our goal. I’ve been with these guys for four years now and we have a great bond,” said Catelli.
“It’s sad but I know that we still have something left to prove,” added Degaitas. “We can look at it and say it’s our final year or you can make the most of it. Hopefully we can make a mark on these young guys and they can continue it.”