CENTRAL FALLS â€” Mo Jackson has endured only a few rebuilding years during a decade-plus tenure as the head coach of Central Falls, but youâ€™d be hard-pressed to find any of those seasons as difficult as this one.
With just four returnees and a wealth of first-year players and junior varsity call-ups at his disposal, Jackson saw his inexperienced squad battle through a lot of growing pains and wrap up its Division IV season with a 2-6 record.
And things wonâ€™t get any easier for the Warriors on Thanksgiving Eve. Sure, Tiverton, which had copped its last 12 holiday games with C.F., is no longer its opponent, but the Warriors have a much tougher -- and closer -- foe awaiting them in Lincoln.
â€śI think it could become a good Blackstone Valley rivalry because weâ€™re so close,â€ť said Jackson, whose crew will head to Lincolnâ€™s Ferguson Field for the initial chapter in this new rivalry. â€śBut this is going to be a very tough game, especially since Lincolnâ€™s been doing very well. Weâ€™re just going to continue to do the best we can.â€ť
Jackson has done the best he could with a 29-man unit that is led by its four veterans, senior linebacker Luis Lubo, junior quarterback Steven Vasquez, senior lineman Dave Kaufalski, and junior lineman Sension Jimenez. There are also 12 other seniors that are on the team, but six of them are first-year players.
â€śWeâ€™ve taken our licks this year,â€ť offered Jackson. â€śThere were three things that really hurt us this season. No. 1, we turned the ball over a lot. No. 2, we didnâ€™t really play four quarters in any game we played, and No. 3, we didnâ€™t execute.â€ť
Despite its inexperience, the Warriors were still able to launch their division schedule with a 10-3 triumph over Smithfield, and three weekends ago, they were 21-6 winners over the Providence Country Dayâ€™s co-op team.
They also had some close calls in defeats to North Providence and Scituate, and they were on the brink of an upset win in early October over unbeaten Mount Pleasant, but things soon fell apart.
â€śThat game was the backbreaker,â€ť said Jackson. â€śWe played them tough for three quarters and we were only down by a touchdown, but then they scored 19 points in just seven minutes and just blew us out of the water. We had an interception and a fumble, and a kid ran a kickoff back.â€ť
The Warriors also received some exceptional play from a number of players this year, beginning with Vazquez, who had his second 1,000-yard season passing and three wide receivers who caught at least 16 passes, seniors Tyler Pineda (20) and James Ramos (19), and junior Joel Peralta (16).
Pineda is one of C.F.â€™s four captains. The other three are senior tailback Jose Peraza, who leads the team in touchdowns (six) and rushing yards, Jimenez, who has a team-high 88 tackles and five sacks, and Lubo.