Archive - Sports Article
November 8th, 2010
It was great to see Joe Paterno collect his 400th career victory at Penn State on Saturday. I was in the neighborhood for many of the first 120 back in my college days and early sports writing years. It wasnâ€™t always easy dealing with a man who set such high standards for himself and his program. Paterno kept everyone on their toes, beginning with his players and going right down the list, all the way down to the lowest creatures on earth â€¦ the sports writing fraternity.
Eight teams will square off today-- weather permitting -- in the Division II playoffs. And perhaps six of them could actually win the state title that will be decided this coming Sunday at Rhode Island College.
â€śOur division is very close,â€ť Lincoln coach John Dâ€™Aloisio admitted over the weekend. His Lions host North Smithfield at 4 p.m. today.
A day-long rain is in the forecast. Any games postponed today likely would be made up on Tuesday.
Welcome to the Division II football playoffs, home of the complex algorithms.
For those who remember the unprecedented five-way tiebreaker of two years ago that tabulated Woonsocket as the odd team out, a refresher course on the wording of the tiebreaker formula was held after Central knocked off Chariho on Friday night. The 40-12 outcome created a three-way logjam atop the II-A standings with Central, Chariho and Johnston all sporting identical 5-2 records.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Mike Sassi knew his St. Raphael squad could not improve or hinder its playoff position heading into Saturdayâ€™s regular season finale against Ponaganset. Though the Saints were locked in as the third seed in Division II-B, that didnâ€™t stop the head coach from digging deep into his bag of motivational tricks.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Friday nightâ€™s key Division II-A matchup with Johnston High pretty much mirrored the way the season has gone for the Shea High football team. The Raiders were once again their own worst enemies, fumbling the ball seven times, three of which were recovered by the visiting Panthers.
Even as something as simple as recovering an onside kick eluded Shea in the third quarter. So when Johnston smothered the live ball at the 6:58 mark, you had the feeling that whatever slim chance the Raiders had at qualifying for the postseason went up in smoke.
LINCOLN --- Lincoln High handled the must-win pressure quite well.
Needing to claim its Division III regular-season finale with mighty Middletown High in order to keep their postseason hopes alive, the Lions rose to the challenge and put forth one of their best performances of the year in front of a large Homecoming Night crowd by posting a 29-16 triumph at Ferguson Field.
The victory gives the Lions a 5-3 mark and tiebreakers over two of the other three teams fighting for the last three playoff spots in the division â€“ Moses Brown and the Islanders.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Tolman High had to dig deep on Thursday night to outlast Narragansett in a preliminary round playoff matchup.
The Tigers rallied from a 2-1 deficit to edge the Mariners in five games, 3-2.
EAST PROVIDENCE â€“ North Kingstown outside hitter Annie Ragan was prepared for a long night against the East Providence girls volleyball team in Thursday nightâ€™s Division I quarterfinals.
Instead, it turned out to be the shortest postseason appearance the Townies have had in over 20 years.
Plagued by a slew of errors all over the court, East Providence struggled to find a way to win key points, and North, on the back of their all-state outside hitter, gladly took advantage, beating the Townies 25-23, 27-25, 25-20, a surprising end to the season for EP.
CUMBERLAND --- Itâ€™s been seven years since Cumberland High last captured a playoff game, but on Thursday night, the Clippers ended that drought in a big way in its Division II preliminary-round match with Warwick Vets High.
Michaela Leblanc and Michelle Malboeuf had solid games at the net and Robyn Andrade and Jessica Larivee keyed a strong showing from the service line for the Clippers in their easy 3-0 triumph at the Clippers' Wellness Center.
While the fates of politicians were decided on Election Day, the fates of five playoff-hopeful Blackstone Valley clubs could be determined as early as this weekend or as late as Thanksgiving morning.
When October ended, so did much of the drama in the Division II-B playoff race. Last weekendâ€™s play saw the top three seeds etched in stone in Tolman (6-0), Woonsocket (5-1), and St. Raphael (4-2) and the final spot still up for grabs between Mount Hope and Toll Gate.
PAWTUCKET --- When Portsmouth High took a 1-0 lead just 54 seconds into Wednesday afternoonâ€™s Division I quarterfinal-round contest with Shea High and held it into the final moments of the first half, the Raiders and their fans were quietly fearing the worst.
Thatâ€™s because in last yearâ€™s Division II quarterfinals, the Raiders suffered a stunning 2-1 loss to Lincoln High that saw the Lions draw first blood, and despite being dominated for most of the game, escape Pawtucket with the upset victory.
You never forget your first big league manager â€“ no matter where the game of baseball takes you. Thatâ€™s how Torey Lovullo is choosing to remember the wisdom and guidance former Detroit and Cincinnati manger Sparky Anderson imparted on his pro career. Anderson passed away on Thursday from complications of dementia in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 76.
â€śIâ€™m saddened because he was an influential man in so many areas,â€ť said Lovullo, Pawtucketâ€™s manager, when reached early Thursday night.
PAWTUCKET â€“ So how do you build a winning high school football program? Tolman coach Dave Caito certainly can describe the process.
WOONSOCKET -- Last yearâ€™s Division II Super Bowl championship season is a distant memory for players on the 2010 Woonsocket High squad.
â€śThatâ€™s gone,â€ť head coach Carnell Henderson admitted on Tuesday night. â€śWe were a senior-heavy team last year. The kids on this yearâ€™s team feel like they were recipients of a championship last year. They want to win one for themselves.â€ť
The Villa Novans are 5-1 with one game left in the regular season. That one loss came against unbeaten Tolman by a 6-0 score back in mid-September.
Based on their records and how theyâ€™ve played against their league opponents, the Division I semifinals should include top-seed Barrington and No. 2 Shea from Division I-East and third-seeded Bishop Hendricken and No. 4 seed La Salle from Div. I-South.
PAWTUCKET â€” Two great names from Tolman High football history were reunited on Monday evening for the taping of Bill Mulhollandâ€™s â€śGood Sportsâ€ť cable access television show.
Larry Caswell and Frank Geiselman shared a stage, talking about their successful careers as quarterback and wide receiver, respectively, at both Tolman and the University of Rhode Island.
The World Series might be grabbing all of baseballâ€™s headlines, but that hasnâ€™t stopped the PawSox Express from churning out team-related news â€¦
Torey Lovullo has been in baseball long enough to understand how the game is played. So when good buddy John Farrell was named manager of the Toronto Blue Jays last week, the obvious was raised: would Lovullo receive an invitation to join the Jaysâ€™ coaching staff?
WOONSOCKET â€” For Lincoln High, Mondayâ€™s task was as straightforward as youâ€™ll get. A win against Woonsocket High meant the Lions would clinch no worse than a share of the Division II-North crown.
Mission accomplished as Lincoln, buoyed by two goals from Jillian DeSimone, took care of business with a 4-0 win over Woonsocket at Barry Field. The Lions finish the regular season 12-1-5. The Villa Novans completed their first â€“ and possibly last â€“ in Division II with a 1-17 mark.
WARWICK â€” This isnâ€™t the same St. Raphael Academy outfit that started out the year â€“ not by a long shot.
Gone are the lingering memories of a 2-4 beginning that featured shutout losses to Hendricken, Tolman and Woonsocket, while the wins coming at the expense of Pilgrim and West Warwick, two squads with a combined 1-11 in league play. In a frenetic two-week turnaround, SRA has seen its season go from being on the brink to one that will include a postseason appearance for the first time since winning the Division I Super Bowl three years ago.
Ponaganset football coach Brian Gendreau has developed a good perspective on two of the toughest teams in Division II this season â€“ unbeaten Tolman and once-beaten Woonsocket. His Chieftains have lost to both Super Bowl contenders.
â€śTolman is the fastest team in the league,â€ť Gendreau admitted on Sunday, â€śbut I would say Woonsocket is more balanced. They can run and throw the ball. You can see why they played a 6-0 game earlier this season. Both teams have great defenses.â€ť