Back in the 1950s and 1960s, it was not uncommon for thousands of people to jam McCoy Stadium for the Tolman-SRA Thanksgiving Game. In the 1970s, the R.I. Interscholastic League engineered a playoff system that evolved from two teams participating from each division to four in the current era (with eight in the 16-team Division II).
One of the effects of these playoffs has been the diminished appeal of Thanksgiving games to local football fans. When the Tolman-SRA rivalry died 10 years ago, crowds had fallen to less than 1,000 per game. The Shea-Tolman rivalry draws about half that many.
Here's a scouting report from River Avenue Blues on Mason Williams, who lived in Pawtucket until he was 13 before moving to Florida, where he became a star baseball player drafted in the fourth round last June by the New York Yankees:
Rhode Islandâ€™s mixed martial arts community lost one of its premier figures and founding fathers early Monday morning when Pawtucket native Manny Neves passed away. He was 45.
Neves wore many hats in the fight business. He was an MMA fighter, Muay Thai fighter, and kickboxer. He was a trainer, a gym owner, and during the 2000s (when MMA shows werenâ€™t allowed in Rhode Island), a promoter of several Massachusetts events.
Lincoln High football coach Dave Waycott confirmed on Friday morning that his team's Division III semifinal-round playoff game against the Moses Brown School will take place at Brown University's Berylson Field (the practice field for the Bears' football team) at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 30.
The field, which is part of the Erickson Athletic Complex, is located near the university's baseball and soccer fields.
Just got off the phone with East Providence native Davey Lopes, a solid baseball man as any youâ€™ll come across. After a 10-minute discussion about the merits of free agent outfielders Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford, I asked Lopes if he sees himself coaching next year. Earlier this month the Phillies announced that Lopes would not be returning as the clubâ€™s first base coach in 2011.
â€śI think if you wait a day or two youâ€™ll get that answer,â€ť said Lopes, a hearty laugh following the response that seems to suggest the La Salle Academy graduate is close to landing a job.
Tolman AD John Scanlon confirms the Tolman-St. Raphael D-II playoff game on Tuesday, Nov. 30, will be played at Shea High's Max Read field at 7 p.m.
See details in Thursday's Times.
I did a story yesterday talking about how playoff-bound football teams like Woonsocket and Tolman have two games to prepare for right now -- the holiday tilt and then the Nov. 30 D-II semifinals five days later.
Woonsocket coach Carnell Henderson explained to me how his coaching staff will approach the problem. They will prepare the players for the holiday game against Cumberland. The coaching staff will work overtime, looking at films of playoff foe Chariho while also getting ready for Cumberland.
After watching Michael Vick throw for 330 yards and 4 TDs last night, most of them in the first half, and run for 80 more, while leading Philadelphia to a 59-28 victory over Washington, the radio talking heads today are beating to death Vick's "comeback" from prison, still wondering if he deserves a second chance.
Mondayâ€™s announcement that Ryne Sandberg was hired as the new manager of Lehigh Valley, the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies, signifies more than just a homecoming for the Hall of Fame second baseman. It means the Red Sox have one less candidate to consider for the managerial opening in Pawtucket.
As my colleague Eric Benevides reports on the previous blog entry, St. Raphael Academy advanced to the Division II semifinals with a crazy 56-50 victory over Johnston on Saturday night.
This means the Saints get a rematch with unbeaten Tolman on Tuesday, Nov. 30, in the Division II semifinals. Woonsocket visits Chariho in the other matchup.
In a royal shootout that will be talked about for years to come, the St. Raphael Academy football posted an edge-of-your-seats 56-50 overtime victory over Johnston High in their Division II quarterfinal-round game on Saturday night in Johnston.
This game featured nearly 1,000 yards of offense, a wonderful game by SRA quarterback Trevor Vasey, who tossed a career-high five touchdown passes, and a strong defensive standout by the Saints in overtime.
I didn't get to see any football games last night because somebody has to put the sports section together. But the scores were interesting. Woonsocket hammered Central 34-14 and Tolman squeaked by Westerly, 6-0. All you can say, at first glance, is Tolman probably drew the tougher opponent in the quarterfinals.
Joe McParlin, who passed away at the age of 54 earlier this week, will be missed in so many places, including on the ball fields and basketball courts of Pawtucket. In all my years at The Times, I never met a father who cared more about his family than Joe. He worked at The Times for awhile and would bring his young son Michael up to the sports desk occasionally, giving me the latest information on Mike's martial arts accomplishments. Michael was always the most polite of kids, even at the age of 7. Joe brought his sons (Brian and Kyle came along later) up the right way. Respect your elders.
Great column today by my old pal Bill Reynolds over there at the ProJo on how the Boston Celtics used to play games at the R.I. Auditorium back in the 1950s. They even had doubleheaders, meaning four of the eight teams that then comprised the NBA were in Rhode Island at the same time.
ESPN is telling us the Minnesota Vikings released Randy Moss today, less than a month after they gave New England a third-round draft choice for the future Hallof Famer.
Speculation is Randy sealed his fate by telling the world how much he loved the Patriots before and after yesterday's game. Minnesota coach Brad Childress is coming off a tough week, after failing to challenge a disputed TD in last week's loss to Green Bay, and then having to baby-sit Bret Favre all week. So when Moss came off the field after meeting with all of his Patriots friends, Childress must have been seething.
If today turns out to be the end of Bret Favre's 292-game starting streak at QB, then the guy went out the only way he could have. Injured. The Patriots' Myron Pryor almost broke his jaw with a clean sack in the fourth quarter today. Favre went off on a golf cart, a trainer holding a ice pack to his jaw. He received 10 stitches under his chin after the game.
Better to go out injured than suspended by the commissioner for off-the-field issues.
Got to see Tolman High's unbeaten Division II football team play Ponaganset on Friday night. This is really a fun group to watch play. As complex and interesting as the offense is, it's the defense that really serves as the spine of the team. The players are all fast and aggressive and fly to the football. They give up long drives grudgingly and touchdowns only rarely. Ponaganset got one late in Friday night's game, a 26-10 Tiger victory.
The Chieftains have a very well-balanced offense and feature some size on the offensive line that seemed to give Tolman some trouble as the game wore on.
Now that the San Francisco Giants are halfway home to winning their first World Series since moving to the West Coast in 1958, itâ€™s time to talk MVP.
Regardless how the rest of the series turns out, itâ€™s hands-down Bengie Molina.
PawSox Vice President Lou Schwechheimer sent me an email Wednesday mentioning two former PawSox players who are in the 2010 WorldSeries. Lou points out that these two fellows were two of late owner Ben Mondor's all-time favorites.
Here's a look at the Pawtucket connection to the World Series.
1.) Texas outfielder David Murphy went from Pawtucket to the Rangers in 2007 in the infamous Eric Gagne deal. Murphy has become an effective fourth outfielder for Texas. He's a sweet-swinging lefthanded hitter who won't start in Games 1 and 2 because Texas must use DH Vladdy Guerrero in right field.
By BRENDAN McGAIR
There's probably a vast majority of you thinking that how in God's name can the Celtics follow up defeating highly gifted/highly flawed Miami Heat by losing to the LeBron-less Cavaliers.
This Celtics team was not constructed with back-to-back nights in mind. Too many members of the Green have had their odometers stretched to the max, meaning Boston will spend much of the season picking and choosing when to turn it on and when to back off.