The fall sports season is finally underway, with games starting here in the next week or two.
There are plenty of storylines heading into 2019 across all schools and sports in the Warwick Beacon coverage area. There are defending champs, teams that are coming back after heartbreaking finishes to 2018, teams that are looking to break out, and others that are hoping to come back from rough seasons. Every team is different, which makes high school sports, especially in the fall, so much fun to follow.
Here are some of the teams and stories that I will be watching closely this season.
In terms of football, it’s hard not to keep a close eye on Bishop Hendricken.
After a run of seven consecutive state championships, the Hawks fell to rival La Salle in title game in 2017. The Hawks were determined to right that wrong last season and did just that, going undefeated in league play and regaining the crown with relative ease.
The Hawks lost a big, talented senior core from last season. Guys like Xavier Truss, Israel Emmanuel, Will Tuttle, Carl Greene are gone, leaving things in the hands of Tom and Nic Comella, as well as Warwick Beacon Player of the Year Angel Sanchez.
Pilgrim will be facing some added pressure across town as well. The Pats entered 2018 as a potential playoff team, coming off a rough stretch and welcoming a new, young coach. Pilgrim responded, emerging as a rue contender in the final leg of the season and advancing all the way to the Division III Super Bowl and nearly winning it. They will no longer be under the radar in 2019.
The Hendricken cross country team had arguably the best season in state history last year and looks poised to claim another state title this time around. The Hawks finished fourth in the country at the Nike Nationals last year, and although they lose top performer such as Jack McMahon, they return plenty of guys. Matt St. Jean, Evan Reynolds and David DelBonis should all be in the mix for the state’s top runner, and will certainly keep Hendricken atop the standing for another year. It will be interesting to see if Hendricken can repeat last season’s success. The Hendricken-La Salle rivalry will also be heated for another season.
One of the more compelling races last season was in field hockey.
Pilgrim entered last year as one of the favorites to compete for a state title. Toll Gate on the other hand was considered to be a solid team, but all eyes seemed to be on the Lady Pats.
The two clubs battled each other tough in each meting and were neck and neck in the standings throughout the season. However, the Titans would surprise the league and advance to the title games, losing in overtime to Tiverton.
Now, Toll Gate lost eight starters from last season and Pilgrim will be a bit different as well. Either way, it should be interesting to see these two teams battle again and to see who comes out on top.
Football is my first love, and there is no season that I look forward to covering more. But I must admit, the Pilgrim soccer teams definitely have my attention.
The Pilgrim boys cruised to the DIII title last year, topping St. Ray’s in the final 1-0. The Pats just won their Injury Fund tournament over Hendricken, Toll Gate and East Greenwich and look poised to dominate the division once again.
Pilgrim cruised to a 3-0 win over the Hawks in the tournament and looked impressive, as well as well rounded, in the process. I know that it is just an exhibition, but to see a Pilgrim team take it to a Hendricken team in that fashion was eye opening. If the Pats play to their potential, a move up in division may be something they need to consider for next year.
The Pilgrim girls also had a big year last season, falling in the championship game after spending most of the regular season in first place. Like every year, the Pats face some roster turnover, but the Pilgrim should be right in the mix once again. Tom Flanders has a proven system that produces on a yearly basis, so I am looking forward to seeing if Pilgrim can hoist plaques on both the boys and girls side. It’s certainly possible.
Other teams to watch include the Pilgrim girls tennis team and girls volleyball clubs. Each had bounce back seasons in 2018 and look to build on their success. The Toll Gate girls soccer team had a down year last season, but should improve this time around considering the amount of young talent that is poised to break out.
Lastly, as I’ve advocated numerous times in the past, please support unified athletics. Unified volleyball is getting started, and there is no better way to give back than to help out. Whether you are a student looking for an extracurricular activity, a parent looking to volunteer, or if you are simply looking for something to watch, unified sports are always fantastic.
I look forward to keeping up with all of the Warwick teams this fall and wish them all good luck. I’ll see you on the sidelines.