Hawks, Titans playing familiar roles in annual meeting
The series has been lopsided over the past two decades, and there isn't a lot of hope this season for that to change, but when Toll Gate and Hendricken step on the field together it's still an opportunity.
"They're in good spirits," Toll Gate head coach Matt Mancuso said. "I think they just want to play."
And play they will, for a 42nd consecutive year. Hendricken has won the last 21 meetings, and will be a heavy favorite for a 22nd consecutive victory.
Everyone understands that. The Hawks finished 7-1 this season in Division I and are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl, which would be a record fourth consecutive championship. Toll Gate just finished its third consecutive winless campaign in Division II, going 0-7 in II-B. It is 0-9 overall.
Naturally, both teams want to win, but the focus is on more than that for each of them.
"It's a good opportunity to get some young guys out there," Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said. "Hopefully those young guys will get some work and we can build a little depth for the last few weeks of the season."
Another wrinkle to this year's game is that it could be the final time the two teams play on Thanksgiving, ending the more than four-decade streak. With a high school potentially closing in Warwick, the two public schools that remain would presumably play each other, while Hendricken would likely end up with another opponent.
Croft, who played for Hendricken in the 90's, knows how important this game has been through the years.
"It's kind of sad," Croft said. "Thirty-something years, it more than likely is going to end. We're kind of left in the dark as to who our Thanksgiving opponent could be in the future. It's been a good run."
The Titans and Hawks will be trying to put on a fitting final act, if that's the case. For the Titans, the game will also be their season finale. Hendricken will have a playoff game against Portsmouth five days later.
Toll Gate's goal will be to compete, maybe catch the Hawks looking forward and see what how it goes. Hendricken will try to post yet another victory.
"We're going to go out there and play hard, and see what happens," Mancuso said.
OUR PICK: Hendricken 34, Toll Gate 7
- Kevin Pomeroy