PAWTUCKET â€” As interim athletic director for St. Raphael Academy, Fred Saunders is being called upon to guide the department while the search to replace Bruce Gammell takes place. The void was created following Gammellâ€™s resignation late last month.
Gammellâ€™s decision to relocate to Florida was viewed in some corners as curious, given that fall high school sports were set to start. For his last official act before leaving, Gammell, who also taught at St. Raphael, recommended to the administration that Saunders be hired in the meantime.
CUMBERLAND â€“ Winning another Northern Division title would be nice, but thatâ€™s not the No. 1 priority for head coach Tom Kenwood and his Cumberland High squad this fall.
With a talented team with plenty of depth, the Clippers are hoping to place among the top six at the state meet in early November and earn a ticket to the New England Championship. The last time thatâ€™s been done was the 2005-06 season when the Cumberland placed third behind team champion Bishop Hendricken.
The first weekend of league play in Rhode Island football provided a hint of what to expect in the season ahead from local teams.
In a most evenly-matched contest, Tolman High outlasted St. Raphael Academy 22-14 on Friday night. The Tigers are coming off a 2010 season in which they lost in the Division II Super Bowl to two-time champion Woonsocket.
The Villa Novans, meanwhile, laid an egg in their opener on Saturday, losing to Pilgrim, 18-7.
FOXBORO â€” Vince Wilfork was having a playful conversation with Pepper Johnson a couple weeks ago when a most unlikely topic arose.
â€śMan, I might end my career without an interception,â€ť Wilfork told his defensive line coach.
Wilfork then asked a fellow defensive lineman if heâ€™d ever reeled in a pick.
â€śNope, never had one,â€ť the teammate replied.
Well, in addition to the Patriotsâ€™ 35-21 victory over the Chargers at Gillette Stadium, Wilfork had extra cause to celebrate on Sunday.
When it comes to that first NFL interception, heâ€™s officially off the schneid.
PROVIDENCE â€” The training has been going well, but the weekly mileage is about a third of what heâ€™s accustomed to.
Nursing a knee injury for the better part of the year, a stress fracture that has derailed his training targeted towards a possible trip to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Roland Lavallee wasnâ€™t looking at setting any kind of PRs at the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K. He was just at Sundayâ€™s race to help his teammates and test his legs on the five-kilometer course.
The results were satisfying.
PAWTUCKET â€” This is a victory that Cumberland High soon wonâ€™t forget.
Boasted by a strong defense that came up huge when it mattered most, Cumberland held on for a 14-7 final against Shea High in the Division II-A for both schools Friday night at Max Read Field. The Clippers scored the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter behind a one-yard run by Ryan Gaumond â€“ one of two in the contest â€“ before surviving a frantic finish in which the Raiders let a first-and-goal opportunity at the Cumberland 4 with less than a minute remaining slip through their grasp.
PAWTUCKET â€” In one of the greatest games ever played between Tolman and St. Raphael Academy during their 82-year rivalry, the Tigers rallied on Friday night for a 22-14 Division II victory over the Saints at Pariseau Field.
WOONSOCKET â€“ Lincoln High was a state runner-up last year in Division II and lost five players from that squad, but it has a solid nucleus that has come back.
After back-to-back state crowns in Div. IV, Woonsocket was moved up two divisions last fall and struggled with just one victory. This seasonâ€™s team has some talented players, but is still fairly young.
FOXBORO --â€“ Devin McCourty heard the same question a year ago.
â€śDo you think theyâ€™ll challenge you deep?â€ť
Even after a Pro Bowl rookie season from the cornerback out of Rutgers, it seems McCourty will once again be a target of opposing offenses in 2011.
The Patriotsâ€™ 2010 first-round draft pick totaled seven interceptions last season, tied for the second most in the NFL and one behind the Ravensâ€™ Ed Reed for the league lead.
It would stand to reason, then, that quarterbacks might not be so eager to throw passes in McCourtyâ€™s direction this year.
Think again, McCourty says.
Most folks around Pawtucket are expecting Tolman High to handle crosstown foe St. Raphael Academy with ease on Friday night in their Division II-B opener at Pariseau Field, and those people have their reasons.
They remember last seasonâ€™s 37-0 regular-season stomping by the Tigers and Tolmanâ€™s two-touchdown triumph over the Saints in the playoffs. They know that the Tigers have a seasoned junior- and senior-ladened team and the Saints lost quite a few key players to graduation.