Cumberland High tri-captains Trent Vasey (10), Erik Travers (21), and Mitchell Baxter (11), shown taking the field in unison for the opening coinflip of their teamâ€™s Division II-B opener against Central High last month at Tucker Field, lead the Clippers into a must-see, non-league game tonight in Bristol against Mount Hope High.
The high school football season will meet its halfway point this weekend, which means a large dose of non-league games and a few league matchups on the areaâ€™s docket.
Eight games make up this weekâ€™s schedule, with tonightâ€™s Division II crossover game between II-B team Cumberland and II-A squad Mount Hope in Bristol and tomorrowâ€™s Division IV duel between Central Falls and Hope in Providence highlighting the top local games.
Also on tap tonight is a non-league affair between Division II Shea and Division III Tiverton at Max Read Field, another non-league tilt at Pierce Field between Division I East Providence and Division II Westerly, and a Division III contest between Lincoln and Middletown at the Islandersâ€™ Gaudet Middle School complex. The first three games are slated for 7 p.m., while the Lincoln-Middletown contest takes place at 4 p.m.
Joining the 1:30 p.m. Central Falls-Hope showdown tomorrow is a 10:30 a.m. non-league game in Burrillville between the Division III Broncos and Division IV Exeter/West Greenwich, and a 4 p.m. Division IV contest in North Smithfield pitting the Northmen and Providence Country Day/Wheeler School/Juanita Sanchez co-op team.
Woonsocket and St. Raphael have bye weeks.
Hereâ€™s a brief look at this weekendâ€™s games:
Cumberland at Mount Hope
All signs are pointing to a Cumberland-Johnston Super Bowl matchup in December, and for good reason. Both teams are 4-0 in their respective parts of the division, with the Clippers outscoring their opposition, 132-12, and the II-A Panthers doing likewise by a 148-14 margin.
But if the Clippers end up playing bonus football after Thanksgiving, they might be looking at a opening-round matchup against the Huskies, who are 2-2 and fresh off back-to-back, three-touchdown victories over Chariho and Woonsocket. Mount Hope tailback Jesse Raiola has totaled five touchdowns and rushed for 225 yards in the past two weeks, and the Clippersâ€™ â€˜Dâ€™ will certainly have their sights set on containing him.
Offensively, the Clippers will be looking for a big night from their quarterback, Brendan Guerin, who has thrown nine touchdown passes this year and completed the bulk of his throws to Trent Vasey and Mitchell Baxter. Cumberlandâ€™s ground game has also averaged 148 yards per contest and could improve on that mark this weekend.
Tiverton at Shea
Itâ€™s been awfully tough to figure out what kind of team Shea has this season. Is it the team that soundly knocked West Warwick from the unbeaten ranks two weeks ago, 42-14, or is it the team that played poorly in recent losses to Central and Rogers?
The Raiders (2-2) will get a week off from their Division II-B slate to take on Tiverton, which is 1-4 and losers of three straight. The Raiders has had a history of success against the Tigers, and a strong performance here could help them for lies ahead in the upcoming weeks.
See CLIPPERS, page C6
A week from Saturday, the Raiders will face St. Raphael at Pariseau Field for the first time in several seasons. The Saints are also 2-2 and in a four-way tie for third place with the Raiders, Rogers, and Central. The Raiders will certainly need to win this game to keep their postseason hopes burning, for the following week, they will face Cumberland at Tucker Field.
Central Falls at Hope
The Warriors, who are 2-1 and sitting in fourth place in their division, could also use a quality win in their matchup with the Blue Wave, who are 3-1 and tied for second place with Smithfield, which already topped the Warriors in their division opener last month. A win by the Warriors will certainly pay dividends if they find themselves needing to win a head-to-head tiebreaker with Hope come playoff time.
The last three games between these two longtime rivals have been defensive battles, with both teams combining for no more than 30 points in each contest, but that could change this weekend. Both teams are averaging over 31 points per game, and while the Blue Wave have also allowed more than 30 points per contest, the Warriors have surrendered an average of 20.6.
Offensively, the Warriors have also been sparked by their quarterback, Brandon Canuto, who has thrown nine TD passes, and Odair Semedo, who has reeled in five of them. Hopeâ€™s top offensive threat is speedy tailback Delonce Wright, who has scored 11 touchdowns and is already zeroing in on 1,000 yard rushing.
PCD/Wheeler/J.S. at North Smithfield
The Northmen enter this weekend with a 2-2 mark and losses to Hope and undefeated Mount Pleasant on the wrong side of their record. Luckily for them, they get to play their co-op rivals, who are 0-4 and have been abysmal on defense, surrending a whopping 233 points.
But PCD/Wheeler/Juanita Sanchez can also score points in bunches, and the teamâ€™s 36.0 points-per-game average is a hair behind the Blue Waveâ€™s league-leading 36.2 mark. A strong defensive performance by the Northmen and big games by running back Paris Correia and quarterback Dan Jordan will be needed if N.S. hopes to avoid an upset loss.
After this game, the Northmen will have a bye week, followed by two big games on the road in November that will determine their playoff fate. On Nov. 2, they will visit Smithfield, and the following Friday night, they will bus to Macomber Stadium to tangle with Central Falls.
Barrington at Tolman; Westerly at E.P.
Itâ€™s been a very tough season for Tolman and East Providence, who along with Cranston West and South Kingstown, are still searching for their first victories in Division I play.
The Tigers, who are 0-4 in their first season as a Division I team, will play the other three winless teams over the next three weekends, but tonight, they will take on a 2-1 Barrington team that they are quite familar with, having playing the Eagles in non-league games over the past several years. Barrington quarterback Jake Simmons is having a superb season with his arm as well as his feet.
The Townies, who are 0-3 in the division (0-5 overall) and enduring their worst season in several decades, will face a tough Division II-A team in the Bulldogs, who are 3-1 and in second place. The following week, E.P. will face the Tigers at Pariseau Field.
Lincoln at Middletown; EWG at Burrillville
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For the second straight year, it looks like the area will not have a representative in the Division III playoffs. Both the Lions and Broncos are 0-3 in the division and going through growing pains with their young rosters.
The Lions have a tough test awaiting them in the Islanders, who are 4-0 and tied for first place with also-unbeaten East Greenwich. Middletown has outscored its opponents, 175-48, and boasts two running backs with 10 touchdowns each in Randolph Butler and Connor Russ.
The Broncos have an interesting matchup with the Scarlet Knights, who are in the hunt for a Division IV playoff berth and one of that divisionâ€™s top offensive teams. The Broncos are coming off back-to-back losses to Classical and Narragansett that they lost by a total of 10 points. Will their third straight home game be the charm for them?