At this time last year, fighting for a championship was the furthest thing from Todd Chattelleâ€™s mind.
The Pawtucket fighter was a few weeks removed from the worst defeat of his pro career -- a knockout loss to undefeated Derek Brunson that saw Chattelle hit the canvas just 14 seconds into the fight. Chattelle was hoping to keep his record above .500 with a hard-fought win, but instead, he slipped to 6-6.
For Rhode Island high school football teams, playing on Thanksgiving is hailed as one of those holiday traditions you canâ€™t live without, itâ€™s so-called importance ranking up there with the Macyâ€™s Day Parade, awkward dinner-time conversations and endless turkey leftovers.
BRIDGEPORT, Ct. â€“ Believe it or not, Providence College and Fairfield actually played a basketball game on Monday night.
Such an important detail can get easily lost in the wash considering the pregame circumstances. On one side of the court stood Ed Cooley, the new PC coach whose previous port of call was Fairfield. On the opposite side of the scorerâ€™s table resided a group of players that Cooley was instrumental in recruiting, among them Pawtucket native Rakim Sanders.
PAWTUCKET --- Fights donâ€™t get any bigger or significant than the one Peter Manfredo Jr. has on Saturday night.
If the Manfredoâ€™s Gym middleweight beats undefeated Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at Houstonâ€™s Reliant Arena, he will take home Chavezâ€™s WBC (World Boxing Council) championship belt and be in line for a huge payday in the form of an expected title defense against former WBC champion Sergio Martinez.
FAIRFIELD, Ct. â€“ Through all the ups and downs, the good times and the hardships, the smile still comes naturally.
The widespread grin of Rakim Sanders has come to embody his innocence and easygoing temperament. Scratch beneath the surface and youâ€™ll find a compassionate young man, someone who possesses the necessary zeal and resolve which made sure he didnâ€™t become symbolic of the Pawtucket housing project of his youth.
PAWTUCKET â€“ We hear the phrase â€śmaking playsâ€ť from athletes and coaches so often that sometimes the exact meaning of the phrase gets lost in its overuse.
Cumberland coach Chris Skurka used the term to describe how his underdog Clippers sneaked past favored Tolman by a 13-9 margin on Saturday night in a Division II quarterfinal playoff game.
â€śThatâ€™s what this team does,â€ť Skurka said. â€śWe make plays.â€ť
PROVIDENCE â€“ â€śShea is probably the most technical (skilled) team in the state,â€ť La Salle coach Mario Pereira was saying on Saturday afternoon, â€śbut I told my kids I think we are the better team.â€ť
The Rams, who had the best record in Division I during the regular season, proved their coach right by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the Raiders in the Division I state title contest.
Shea won the coin toss and elected to play into the wind during the first half and quickly fell behind, 3-0.
PROVIDENCE --- With a combined 17 goals allowed between them this season, it was clear that scoring was going to be at a minimum in the Division II state finals between second-seeded Lincoln High and unbeaten No. 1 seed Exeter/West Greenwich.
That held true on Sunday afternoon at the Rhode Island College complex. But after a tight contest for 60 minutes, the Scarlet Knights broke through with two goals in a seven-minute span to pave the way for their second straight state crown with a 3-1 victory over the Lions in a rematch of last year's championship contest.
PAWTUCKET â€” Cumberland High made enough big plays on Saturday night to knock Tolman out of the Division II playoffs.
The Clippers got a 75-yard touchdown run by Erik Travers in the first quarter and then pulled out a 13-9 victory with a scoring drive in the final 4-1/2 minutes that was capped by Ryan Gaumondâ€™s game-winning one-yard plunge with 1:36 left in the contest.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â€” Sixteen times this season, defending state champion Exeter/West Greenwich has faced an opponent in Division II. Sixteen times, it has won handily.
No. 17 proved to be it toughest.
Seeking its first team crown in the school's history Saturday at Keaney Gymnasium, No. 3 seed Cumberland battled the top-seeded Scarlet Knights to a five-set thriller in the state finals before succumbing to scores of 22-25, 25-16, 21-25, 25-20 and 15-10.