Patrick Miranda (34) and his St. Raphael Academy teammates welcome defending Division II champion Woonsocket High to Pariseau Field on Saturday afternoon. The game will serve as SRAâ€™s official home opener.
Blame it on the rain? Tough early-season matchups? Injuries? Turnovers?
Whatever the reason, 70 percent of the Blackstone Valleyâ€™s teams that played last weekend lost, and four of those seven losing teams were badly beaten by 27 or more points.
But while the negatives outweighed the positives last weekend, this is a new week. And while not a lot of matchups stand out, there are a pair to highlight, but you will have to wait until Saturday afternoon to see these duels featuring Blackstone Valley opponents.
In Division II-B, St. Raphael will look for its second league win in three tries when it hosts winless Woonsocket at 4 p.m. at Pariseau Field, and in Division III, two teams looking for their first division win will collide when Burrillville hosts Lincoln at 2:30 p.m. at Alumni Field.
Fridayâ€™s schedule is led off by an interesting 6 p.m. contest between Division IV foes Mount Pleasant and Central Falls at Macomber Stadium. The upstart Warriors will vie for their first 3-0 start since 2005 when they clash with the unbeaten defending champion Kilties.
Pawtucket fans will also have a tough choice to make that night because both Tolman and Shea have 7 p.m. games at home. The Tigers will host Pilgrim in a Division II-B game at Pariseau Field, while the Raiders entertain Chariho in a Division II-A meeting at Max Read Field.
Also on the docket is East Providenceâ€™s Division I contest against Portsmouth at Pierce Field, Cumberlandâ€™s Division II-A battle against Westerly at Tucker Field, and North Smithfieldâ€™s Division IV tilt with Smithfield at the Sentinelsâ€™ Boyle Athletic Complex. All three games are at 7 p.m.
Wrapping up the weekâ€™s schedule is Saturdayâ€™s Division II-B contest between Ponaganset and West Warwick at the Chieftainsâ€™ home field. That game starts at 2 p.m.
Hereâ€™s a brief look at this weekendâ€™s nine games:
Woonsocket at St. Raphael
The Saints were one of the few teams to win last week, ripping Pilgrim, 38-6, and this weekend, they will try to continue their fine play and go to 2-1 in the division when they take on the Villa Novans.
Quarterback Julien Diaz (169 passing yards, three TD passes) had a superb game last weekend, and he will be looking to carry over that performance into this weekâ€™s game. Running back Charles Correa, tight end Davon Robertson, and fullback/linebacker Pat Miranda have also been solid in the early going.
The two-time defending champion Villa Novans, who will be trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2006, actually lost to Pilgrim in their division opener, 18-7. Itâ€™s been a tough September for this young and inexperienced team, but the Novans hope to take another step forward with an improved performance.
Injuries have also taken their toll on the Villa Novans, who hope to have one or two of their walking wounded back on Saturday. Topping the list of injured players are senior tailback Jalen Evans, sophomore backup Dâ€™Andre Thomas, and junior lineman Juan Rivera.
Lincoln at Burrillville
A big game for these two division rivals, who at 0-2, canâ€™t afford to fall into a three-game hole in the standings, especially with some of the leagueâ€™s tougher teams awaiting them on their schedules in the coming weeks.
Both foes share a few things in common, such as the fact that they played the same opponents in the past couple of weeks and were both blasted by one of them, Rogers -- the Broncos lost 47-12, while the Lions on Monday were 41-6 losers.
But while the Broncos dropped a 13-7 decision to East Greenwich that saw the Avengers score the game-winning touchdown with 3:32 left in the game, the Lions posted a 20-0 victory a week earlier, only to have the win stripped from their record and ruled a forfeit because they unknowingly used a player that was ineligible by school stands.
Lincoln quarterback Anthony Palombo, who did not play in the second half of the loss to Rogers, will be back behind center this weekend, head coach Dave Waycott reported after that game.
Mount Pleasant at Central Falls
The Warriorsâ€™ defense has made plenty of waves this month with its back-to-back shutouts of Smithfield two weeks ago and always-tough Hope last week, but this weekend, the test gets tougher when the Kilties come to town.
The Kilties own an 11-game win streak in the league that includes last weekâ€™s 14-8 victory over Smithfield, a team that C.F. roughed up for 29 points in its win. Quarterback Jayquan Monteiro and running back Troy Forrest make the Kiltiesâ€™ offense go.
If the Warriors plan to win this game, they are going to need another splendid performance from its â€˜Dâ€™ and to avoid the turnover bug as they did last week against the Blue Wave. And what can running back Josh Brandon, who ran for a career-high 111 yards last week, do for an encore this weekend?
Pilgrim at Tolman
This could be the blowout of the weekend. The Patriots, who were dismantled last week by SRA, have just seven victories over the past four-plus years and a young team that could be staring at another losing season.
Seven victories was what the Tigers produced last year en route to capturing the regular-season crown, and almost all of the players from that team will be lining up for this game.
In back-to-back wins over the Saints and Novans, the Tigers have outscored those teams by a 57-20 count. That margin should grow considerably in this weekendâ€™s game, which could be said and done by halftime.
Portsmouth at East Providence
The Townies (1-1) had one of their worst game of the season last year in their 24-14 loss on the road to the Patriots, and you can be certain they donâ€™t want to repeat that same performance in Fridayâ€™s showdown.
E.P. is also coming off a 19-10 loss to Cranston West that saw five turnovers by the Townies help the Falcons produce their scoring. Can the Townies put this ugly loss in their rearview mirror and avoid back-to-back losses that may hurt their bid at a return trip to the playoffs?
The Patriots, who fell to 1-1 last week after falling to mighty La Salle, 38-21, feature one of the best all-around players in the state in All-State running back Austin Szczepaniak and another All-State performer in kicker Dan Thorpe.
Westerly at Cumberland
Could Westerly be the team to beat in Division II-A? The Bulldogs shut out a tough Chariho team, 16-0, in their division opener, and last week, erupted for 53 points in a blowout victory over Shea.
The Clippers, who fell to 1-1 in the division after dropping a 20-13 decision to the Chargers (that saw Chariho win the contest with a goal-line stand in the final minute to play), have played well defensively this year and will need to continue to do so if they plan to earn a playoff spot.
But this weekend, will surely need to turn their defense up a notch against the â€™Dogs, who totaled 418 yards last week against the Raiders. Quarterback Phil Lynch and running backs Spencer Read and Wes Gomez lead Westerly.
Chariho at Shea
Speaking of the Raiders, they will be trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 1997, but in order to do that, they will have to erase the sting from their most lopsided defeat in recent memory.
In last Fridayâ€™s 53-19 loss to Westerly, the Raiders turned the ball over seven times, five on lost fumbles, and gave the Bulldogsâ€™ potent offense a short field to work with all night long.
This Friday, the Raiders face an easier test in the Chargers, who are working with 17 new starters this season, but if turnovers and penalties rear their ugly heads again, this could be a long night for the Silver and Black.
North Smithfield at Smithfield
The Northmen are fresh off a bye week, and you can bet that head coach Wes Pennington got a lot of work in during that week off. Two weekends ago, five turnovers paved the way for an 18-10 loss to Hope, a defeat that certainly did not sit well for a team expected to compete for the division title.
Luckily for the Northmen, they are facing a Sentinel squad that is 0-2 and has won just once in its last nine league games. It would take a total meltdown for North Smithfield to lose this game.
West Warwick at Ponaganset
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The Chieftainsâ€™ strong start to their season hit a huge speed bump last week in the form of a 34-7 loss to Mount Hope last Sunday that saw Ponaganset total just 149 yards of offense and turn the ball over four times.
And things donâ€™t get any easier for the Chieftains this week when the Wizards come to town. They are 2-0 with wins over Mount Hope and Toll Gate under their belts and playing very good football with a veteran cast that includes 19 returning starters.
For Ponaganset (1-1) to win, big games are going to be needed from the likes of quarterback Chris Larrabee, tailback Scott Peterson, and receiver Connor Mathieu, and the â€˜Dâ€™ is going to have to step up its play.