SPORTS

Playoff thoughts, predictions

Posted 11/1/23

We’re heading into the thick of the playoffs so let’s get into it. Here are the teams and storylines that have caught my eye as we get under way.

We have two football teams that will …

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SPORTS

Playoff thoughts, predictions

Posted

We’re heading into the thick of the playoffs so let’s get into it. Here are the teams and storylines that have caught my eye as we get under way.

We have two football teams that will be in the playoffs with Hendricken and Johnston and each have chances to take home Super Bowl titles.

The Hawks as you heard me say a couple weeks back are on their way to the Division I title. I am very confident, not that predicting a Hendricken championship is a hot take, but there is very little doubt in my eyes.

Sure, La Salle took an early lead and had the Hawks on the ropes. Sure, North Kingstown forced Hendricken to dig deep in the fourth quarter. Sure, Central nearly pulled off the upset when they squared off.

At the end of the day, Hendricken got the job done. The Hawks are built to last and will reclaim the title after coming up short last season.

It won’t be easy and the Hawks will have to play their best football, but I just don’t see a team picking them off. Heading into the state title game last season, the Rams had the momentum and the Hawks just seemed a little inexperienced. I picked Hendricken to win, but it felt like a true toss up. Not this fall, though. The Hawks are experienced, focused and check off all the boxes on the field. They have a quarterback in Jayden Falcone, a rushing attack with Ronjai Francis and Oscar Weah, and have a ton of size up front on both offense and defense. Check, check and check. That’s usually a recipe for success at the high school level.

As for the Panthers, although they are not the favorite in Division III, they have proven enough to be seen as contenders. They got a decisive win over Ponaganset and eked out another over Moses Brown and nearly beat West Warwick in a comeback. The lopsided loss to Lincoln came on opening day, so you can’t put too much stock into that.

Johnston has Tolman this week and the later has been on a tear as of late. It should be a competitive game, but I expect the Johnston offense which includes Matt Clements, Steven Finegan, NeAri Vasquez and Michael Carlino, to be productive and put a pace on that the Tigers can’t match.

The next week will almost certainly be a matchup with Middletown. Those two teams had a thrilling playoff meeting a couple years ago and I have a feeling we’ll have another. If the Panthers can get through Middletown, then there will be no reason why they can’t beat the Wizards or Lions in a championship rematch.

Toll Gate will have another crack at winning both boys and girls soccer championships this fall. Each team reached the championship last season and the girls were able to get the job done.

The Lady Titans are unbeaten in league play and will take the top seed into the postseason. It looks like they’re on a collision course with Westerly for another championship battle.

Westerly was the favorite last season but the Titans pulled off the upset. If the two clubs do indeed reach the final, Toll Gate will probably be the underdog, but we saw last year that anything can happen. Adeline Areson has been on a tear as well as Shinyu Vega and keeper Alanna Pereira.

As for the boys, they have cooled off a little bit in the second half of the regular season but are still firmly one of the best teams in Division IV. It looks like Mt. Pleasant is the favorite, but with a core that includes Aiden Preuit, Edrees Heidari and Christian Dias, the Titans will have a chance against any team they face.

The Division I girls race will be fascinating as no team has really separated itself from the rest of the pack on the A-side. Pilgrim, La Salle, South Kingstown and Cranston West have beaten up on each other. On the B-side, Cumberland is unbeaten and North Kingstown is still very much a threat.

The Clippers should be in the title game, but the fight for the second spot will be fun to watch.

As I spoke about last week, the Division II field hockey postseason is going to be a slugfest and the first round was wild for our three teams.

Pilgrim took on Cranston and won in a shootout while Toll Gate edged Classical in a shootout as well. Pilgrim will now take on unbeaten Lincoln while the Titans are set to face Chariho, who they went 1-1 against in the regular season.

If Pilgrim goalie Valerie Landry repeats her stellar outing in the quarters, then the Pats will have a chance to pull off the big upset.

As for the Titans, I am pretty confident that they’ll be able to pull off the win against the Chargers. Toll Gate got better as the season wore on and although Chariho didn’t fall off, it did cool off a bit and took some lumps. I’d love to see a Pilgrim-Toll Gate final this weekend, but it will take a perfect game for the Pats to get by.

NOTE: The field hockey semis were played Wednesday evening and the results were not available at press time.

pitch, sports, playoffs