The Pilgrim football team opened its season by cruising past host Classical 42-14 on Saturday afternoon.
Running back Demitri Ayres led the way for Pilgrim, rushing for 132 yards and four touchdowns on just 18 carries.
“He has so much toughness and runs the ball hard, he has great vision. We are able to rely on him so much because he runs so aggressive. He didn’t have a ton of carries, but on each one he made a huge impact,” said Pilgrim head coach Blake Simpson, who was also happy with his veteran offensive line as well.
“We have a lot of really good backs with five senior linemen up front. They have very good size and strength, so it’s easy for us to keep the chains moving on the ground. We can pass because we have some really talented receivers too. Depending on the situation and depending on where we are down and distance wise, we always have a very good play call.”
Pilgrim would get on the board first in the opening quarter on a 32-yard score by Ayres.
Classical would knot the score early in the second, but Ayres would find the end zone again to give the Pats the lead. Quarterback Mike Borges connected with Dylan Gallagher for a 12-yard score to extend the Pilgrim lead to 22-8 at the halftime break.
Ayres went on to rush for two more scores in the third while Borges added another rushing touchdown to wrap up the win and put the game out of reach for Classical.
The Pilgrim defense was stout in the win, allowing just 11 rushing yards in total. The Pats’ return game was also on point.
“We got into the backfield a lot and whenever they tried to run and stretch the field to the outside, our guys just flew to the ball. What also helped us a lot was the field position that we were given, making Classical punt a few times and getting some pretty good returns. Getting out past the 50 yard line helped us a lot,” said Simpson.
Pilgrim enters the season hungry after falling short in the Division III Super Bowl last November. Simpson believes that motivation helped the Pats cruise past West Warwick in the Injury Fund exhibition and then Classical last week.
“Watching Classical on film, they’re a great team and they’re well-coached … but our guys have a chip on their shoulder considering how last year ended, they’re looking forward to every matchup, they’re not looking past any opponent, they just want the next one,” said Simpson. “They knew that we had to make a statement, and (Classical) is a division higher than us, so it was a nice challenge to start the year.”
The Pats improve to 1-0 and will head to Smithfield on Saturday to face a tough passing offense.
“You really need to dissect the film and make sure you catch every little detail. Smithfield does a few things really well, they can pass the ball very well,” said Simpson. “This week we need to have faith in our cornerbacks and play man and we need to get pressure on the quarterback.”