BURRILLVILLE — Gennaro Ferraro looks back on his football team’s frustrating season with a mixture of realism and pragmatism.
“We lost four games by a total of 11 points,” the Burrillville coach was saying earlier this week. “We lost Tyler Kimatian to an auto accident and two other key players left the team due to disciplinary issues. And Brendan Darigan missed 2 ½ games with a sprained ankle.
“But I’m not offering excuses,” Ferraro said, speaking of the Broncos’ 4-4 record in Division III that put them one game out of the playoffs. “The seniors on our team have come a long way since their 0-10 season as sophomores. They were competitive last year in Division II. This year, we dropped down to Division III and almost made the playoffs. It was very satisfying for our coaching staff to see these seniors grow up over the past three seasons.”
Burrillville, which will host Ponaganset at 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning in its annual holiday game, is 6-4 overall on the season, a tribute to the team’s willingness to compete to the final whistle.
The Broncos got everything they could from two-way players like Roger Blanchard, Brendan Darigan, Carmine Phillips, Scotty Hingley, John Pacheco, Eddie Maione and Dylan Armstrong, Ferraro admitted.
“Roger Blanchard … the offense ran through him,” Ferraro said of his quarterback. “He played hard every game. He prepared himself thoroughly and was a pleasure to coach. Dan Mattera was one of the most unselfish players I have ever coached. We changed his position four times this season and he accepted every challenge we put in front of him. Dan would do anything to help his team.
“Every senior was instrumental,” Ferraro added. “Carmine Phillips and Scott Hingley were solid on both sides of the ball. John Pacheco improved 100 percent during the season. Eddie Maione came back from mono.”
The Broncos opened their league season with a 34-32 loss to Rogers High, which would go on to finish unbeaten in the regular season. They bounced back with a 28-7 win over East Greenwich and then beat Lincoln 13-12 on the road, in a driving rain. Kimatian ended Lincoln’s last chance to win by creating a fumble with a perfectly-timed tackle on a punt with 70 seconds left in the game.
“We knew that game had playoff implications,” Ferraro recalled. Kimatian got involved in a serious auto accident two days later and watched from the sidelines, on crutches, as the Broncos drop a 14-12 game on the road to Moses Brown, which would also make the playoffs.
Burrillville then won three games in a row, the latter a 33-0 rout of Narragansett that Ferraro called “our most complete game of the season.”
With Darigan injured, the Broncos lost a 32-27 home game to Tiverton and then fell to Middletown 28-26 in the game that knocked them out of the playoffs.
“We’re going to end the season with less than 30 players,” Ferraro admitted. “That’s the first time we’ve had less than 30 players in uniform during my 13 years here. It’s not an excuse, just a fact that when you have a small roster, injuries can really become a factor.”
The Broncos hope to have top running back Darigan back for Thursday’s season finale.
“The fact is, we didn’t make the playoffs,” Ferraro said, “but our focus is on Ponaganset. They have a quality team. Our main goal is to win our Thanksgiving game. Whether we had made the playoffs or not, beating Ponaganset is something we want to do. It’s going to be a hard-fought game. Ponaganset runs the ball well and their quarterback is a good passer.”
Ferraro was asked to sum up the season.
“I wish we had made the playoffs,” he said. “This team really battled. The ball didn’t bounce our way in a few games. The kids never gave up. They kept working hard and were a great group to coach. We’ve got one game left and we want to win it.”