The two-a-days are history. So are the scrimmages and Injury Fund games.
This weekend, the regular season for high school football gets under way with non-league games scattered throughout the state.
Eight of the Blackstone Valley’s 11 teams kick off tonight, and the big games of the bunch will feature two-time Division II champion Woonsocket taking on East Providence at Pierce Field and former Thanksgiving Day rivals Shea and Lincoln playing each other at Lincoln‘s Ferguson Field.
Another featured game will be Tolman’s duel against Barrington at Max Read Field. The Tigers have most of their team back from last year’s crew that went to the Super Bowl and should give the Division I Eagles a tough test.
The Tolman-Barrington matchup was originally slated to take place at Pariseau Field, but because the Pawtucket Red Sox were originally scheduled to play Game 3 of their playoff series with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at McCoy Stadium the same night, the game got moved across the city.
Those three games will be at 7 p.m., as are the contests between St. Raphael and Bishop Hendricken on the Hawks’ campus and Cumberland and Cranston at Tucker Field. Another local game, pitting Central Falls and Middletown at Macomber Stadium, will get under way at 6.
On Saturday, Ponaganset will contest Scituate at 1 p.m., and North Smithfield will visit Burrillville at 2:30.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s schedule:
Woonsocket at East Providence
Both teams played very well in last weekend’s Injury Fund games -- the Villa Novans downed Shea, 21-0, while the Townies beat Exeter/West Greenwich, 20-16 -- and they will be looking to carry over those strong performances into tonight’s game.
Senior quarterback Brandon Peters will make his first regular-season start for the Townies, who are vying for their third straight playoff appearance, while the Novans will also have some young players in action. Running back Jalen Evans leads Woonsocket’s returnees.
Shea at Lincoln
Much like their longtime Thanksgiving rivalry that ended in 2001, Lincoln vs. Shea has always been a close game. Last year, Shea topped Lincoln, 29-14, but prior to that game, four of the last five meetings were decided by less than 10 points.
The Raiders, who lost both of their Injury Fund contests last week to Central Falls, 6-0, and the Novans, will try to bounce back behind a talented offense with quarterback Adilson Silva and running backs Jamal Tucker and Travis Gray. Fullback-turned-quarterback Anthony Palombo leads the Lions’ attack.
Barrington at Tolman
It’s rare to see a Division II team beat a Division I team, but this may be one of the best bets. The Tigers, who lost just a half dozen players to graduation, have a veteran defense and a productive offense that’s keyed by running back Elvis George and quarterback Luis Rodrigues.
The Eagles graduated some key players from last year’s team, and last week, they lost their Injury Fund contest to Division III Rogers, which used a steady passing game to deliver a victory. Nevertheless, expect the speedy Tigers to most likely attack their Eagles with their strong ground game.
St. Raphael at Bishop Hendricken
The Division II Saints collide with one of their former Division I rivals in the Hawks, and the last time SRA stopped them was in the 2006 Division I Super Bowl by an 8-6 score that capped an unbeaten season.
The Saints dropped a 21-14 verdict last weekend to another Division I squad, Cranston East, but they received some excellent efforts from new quarterback Julian Diaz, playmaker Charles Correa, and tight end Davon Robertson.
Cranston West at Cumberland
New quarterback Mitchell Baxter leads the Clippers into this tough duel with the Division I Falcons, who welcomed a lot of players back from last year’s team and hope to be in the mix for a postseason spot.
The Clippers, who just missed the Division II playoffs in each of the last two seasons by one win, hope to turn around their fortunes this year and get back to the ‘second season’. This game will certainly help them prepare for what lies ahead.
Middletown at Central Falls
The Warriors renew acquaintances with their former Division IV rivals, and while the Division III Islanders gave C.F. fits during their final seasons in the division and last season’s non-league opener, the Warriors will try to end their losing ways against them.
The Warriors played an excellent game defensively in last week’s Injury Fund victory over Shea, and they will try to continue their exceptional play against the Islanders, who lost the bulk of last year’s team to graduation.
North Smithfield at Burrillville
Expect a full house at Alumni Field when the Northmen and Broncos play for the Hauser/Lovett Trophy, which goes to the winner of their annual clash.
The Northmen, who enjoyed their finest season in a number of years last fall, are led by first-year quarterback Dan Jordan and running backs Paris Correia and Chris Mancini. The Broncos also have a first-year signal caller in Glenn St. Pierre and an outstanding fullback in Kevin Deschamps.
Ponaganset at Scituate
The Chieftains struggled in their first season as a Division II team last year, but they’re looking to improve on that performance, and they have a golden opportunity to pick up a quick win over the Division IV Spartans.
The Chieftains graduated a dozen seniors last year, but they have a talented senior class back that’s guided by 1,000-yard passer Chris Larrabee, Junior tailback Scott Peterson also leads the assault.