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PROVIDENCE --- The recently-graduated seniors on the Central Falls and North Smithfield football teams put on their helmets and pads on Wednesday night and worked out together on the Northmen‚Äôs turf complex to prepare for one final game before officially turning the pages on their high school careers.
But if you‚Äôre thinking that final game they‚Äôre getting ready for is the 14th annual Governor‚Äôs Cup showdown ‚Äď the one that pits Rhode Island‚Äôs top seniors against Connecticut‚Äôs finest 12th graders ‚Äď on June 30 in Southington, Conn., think again.
The seniors from the Warriors and Northmen are joining the ones from Cranston East and North Providence to form a ‚ÄėNorth‚Äô team that will play a ‚ÄėSouth‚Äô team of Providence public-school seniors (Classical, Central, Mount Pleasant, and Hope) in the inaugural Capitol City High School All-Star Football Game.
This showdown will be held a week from today, June 22, at 7 p.m. at Providence‚Äôs Conley Stadium, and according to C.F. head coach Mo Jackson, this game has the makings of being a very successful one and the beginning of a traditional event.
‚ÄúSome of the (Providence) coaches said, ‚ÄėWhy don‚Äôt we create our own All-Star game with strictly Rhode Island kids?‚Äô ‚ÄĚ said Jackson. ‚ÄúI think this (game) is going to come off pretty good, and other schools are going to want to get on board with this.‚ÄĚ
The seniors from the Providence Country Day/Juanita Sanchez co-op squad will also play in the game and are expected to join the North squad because they have fewer numbers on its roster than the South team.
Jackson admitted that this contest isn‚Äôt meant to compete with the Governor‚Äôs Cup game the following week, but to give some local seniors, who for one reason or another, are unable to play in that game another opportunity to take part in an All-Star game.
One reason that some seniors are unable to suit up for the R.I. team is the high fee they have to pay. Each player is required to fork over $300 for a spot on the team, but in the Capitol City game, the fee will be $15, thanks to the generosity of some local sponsors who are assisting with the game.
‚ÄúThe year we won Super Bowl in 2005, we had five senior plays in the Governor‚Äôs Cup,‚ÄĚ said Jackson. ‚ÄúThe mayor at the time gave the kids a little bit of money and they had a little bit of a fundraiser, so they were able to come up with the $300.
‚ÄúSome of my guys could have been put on the (Rhode Island) team this year, but they didn‚Äôt have the money. But a month ago, Kris McCall, the head coach from Classical, called me up and told me what he was doing. I asked my seniors about this game and they told me they wanted to play.‚ÄĚ
Each player will receive a game jersey with their name on the back to keep as a memento of their last high school game. There will also be a dinner before the game for the players and their parents, hospitality tents set up around the stadium, and a few other added features to the event.
‚ÄúWe have some very good sponsors and people who did a lot of work on this,‚ÄĚ said Jackson. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll see what happens next Friday, and hopefully, as time goes on, we can add some more teams and maybe play in a bigger stadium.‚ÄĚ
Jackson, Central Falls assistant coach Jeff Lapierre, North Smithfield head coach Wes Pennington, and North Providence head coach Glenn Williams will comprise the North‚Äôs coaching staff, while the South‚Äôs staff will contain the four Providence head coaches -- McCall, Central‚Äôs Peter Rios, Hope‚Äôs Mike Gibbons, and Mount Pleasant‚Äôs Paul Rao.
The Warriors will have seven players on the North team ‚Äď Sension Jiminez, Nico Danielson, Steven Vazquez, Josh Brandon, Christian Brandon, Larry Cruz, and Cristian Romero, and the Northmen will field five ‚Äď Chris Mancini, Brent Doire, Jacob Walkow, Brandon Chartier, and Dylan Johnson.
Three of those names that stand out are Josh Brandon, a fullback who ran for over 1,500 yards and scored 13 touchdowns last year, Vazquez, the state‚Äôs outdoor high jump champion who shined last fall as a wide receiver/free safety, and Walkow, who established himself as one of the state‚Äôs premier kickers.
Jiminez, Danielson, Romero, Chartier, Doire, and Johnson are also valuable two-way linemen, Mancini is a double threat as a fullback/linebacker, and Christian Brandon and Cruz are wide receivers. Cruz also starred as a defensive back.