SPORTS

Four-peat

Hawks win 49-40 thriller over rival Rams

Posted 11/25/21

The Bishop Hendricken football team won its fourth consecutive state championship on Sunday afternoon by topping rival La Salle 49-40 at Cranston Stadium. It was a shootout from start to finish and became the highest-scoring state championship in Rhode

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SPORTS

Four-peat

Hawks win 49-40 thriller over rival Rams

Posted

The Bishop Hendricken football team won its fourth consecutive state championship on Sunday afternoon by topping rival La Salle 49-40 at Cranston Stadium. It was a shootout from start to finish and became the highest-scoring state championship in Rhode Island history.

For the first time in the four football seasons that I have been in RI, the Hawks were considered the underdog to most people. I predicted a Hawks win simply because the Rams had not beaten them since 2017 and I just could not allow myself to pick against the big brother, if you will.

It was an unusual feeling on Sunday. The Hendricken players and fans clearly felt that they were being overlooked and certainly embraced the underdog mentality. They were pretty vocal about it.

Once again, though, the Hawks would come up with the plays in the big moments to edge the Rams and take home another state championship plaque to add to the trophy case.

Now, before I get into the breakdown of what Hendricken did right, I need to take a moment to acknowledge the Rams’ performance.

Their offense was every bit as explosive as it seemed and although Hendricken rolled to 49 points, the defense came up with a big stop in the fourth quarter to bail them out. This Rams team was totally game for Sunday and had every opportunity to win. With less than 10 minutes left the Rams had the ball and were down by only one score … anything could have happened.

La Salle entered the game as the favorite because it had the best offense in the state and maybe even the most all around talent. If these two teams played each other 10 times, I’d say Hendricken would win six of them. These two teams were very close.

At the end of the day, Hendricken did what it seems to always do: Make the plays when it had to make them.

At no point did La Salle back down and at no point did the Rams truly falter. There weren’t any glaring weaknesses that were exposed, there weren’t any big mistakes that you could look back on that cost La Salle. Hendricken just made two or three more collective plays which wound up being enough. This game was much closer than the nine points indicated.

It was one of those days that I never doubted the Hawks. Honestly, even when the Rams made their big plays and pushed Hendricken, it just felt that the team that played the better final few minutes would be the one to win, and the Hawks have done that in nearly every game they’ve been in over the course of the past four years.

Quarterback David Lynch had a huge touchdown run, as did Brandyn Durand. Oscar Weah and Kamalie Pemberton did their part, the Hendricken defense had two big stops in the fourth quarter after being a step behind for the first three. That’s exactly why I predicted a Hendricken win … There is no team better at finishing games. Just look at the game earlier this fall against Central. The Knights outplayed Hendricken for the first three quarters, but the Hawks flipped the switch and took the win in the fourth.

I would say after covering each team that La Salle was more talented. It had more players that opened your eyes, more speed, more playmakers. However, Hendricken ultimately had the better team.

Between experience, smarts, depth, well-roundedness, Hendricken just had a little bit more. It is always fun when these two teams get together, and this was without question the best game I have covered of this rivalry.

The competitive fall sports season is officially a wrap for the Beacon Communications coverage area, however, we still have two Thanksgiving football exhibitions coming up between Toll Gate and Pilgrim, as well as Cranston East versus West.

I am thrilled to see the Thanksgiving tradition back on the rails after having to miss last year due to the pandemic. There is something about turkey and football that goes so well together and it is always a fun, family-friendly atmosphere at these events.

As most of you have heard by now, the Toll Gate football team pulled out of this year’s game due to a roster issue. Luckily, the Johnston Panthers stepped up at the last minute to set up a rematch against Pilgrim. The Pats won their first meeting 14-0 in the regular season in a tight battle.

I’m expecting another close one. Although the Pats got the better of the first game and were a little bit better as a whole this season, Johnston played its best football in its final few games and looked like the Panthers of old.

I also do not foresee a 14-point game … I’m expecting more scoring on each side. Each offense is just too potent to have that happen again, and I think each team is going to have some fun in knowing that this is their last game of the season.

My prediction: Pilgrim 28, Johnston 13

The Cranston game is fascinating if you ask me. Each team had a down fall and each team is rebuilding. Most of these players either have not played in the Thanksgiving game or played very little back in 2019 since they were underclassmen. The two teams have not seen each other yet this season, either.

I am really excited to see which team pulls off the win because I think this is a subtle measuring stick game for each team. Both of these squads are looking to improve and make some noise in 2022. It will be interesting to see which team is further along and is more poised to have a bounce back year.

Both the Falcons and Bolts showed flashes but faced tough schedules and struggled to find consistency. I think West has a little bit more on offense, but East has a little more on defense. I think there is potential that we see this game be decided deep in the fourth quarter.

I’m going with West. The Falcons went toe to toe with North Kingstown which is an obvious force and nearly - and maybe should have - beaten Burrillville who was another Division I playoff team. East is scrappy and showed some signs of life down the stretch, but I think West is just a half step ahead.

My prediction: West 20, East 14

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