PAWTUCKET – This is what contending teams are supposed to do when facing a weaker sister – remove the drama early.
There was no debate regarding who the better team was Friday night at Pariseau Field. Tolman High scored on four of its five offensive possessions in the opening half en route to a 55-6 pasting against a Pilgrim High outfit that was left seeing stars.
Despite spending all night waltzing down Easy Street, Tolman head coach Dave Caito refused to take anything for granted. In fact, Caito had a simple message for his players as they returned to the sideline following each score.
Caito knows that there is danger in runaway contests, hence why he and his assistants were quick to point out any and all bad habits they saw. Just because a false start or a pass interference call occurs when the game is well out of reach doesn’t mean it’s simply forgive and forget.
“We tell our guys to play smart and to play with class,” said Caito after the Tigers improved to 2-0 in Division II-B. “They (meaning Pilgrim) have nothing to lose at that point and we have everything to lose. You want to take of business and that’s why we told the starters that they would be in until the third quarter.”
Tolman needed just eight offensive snaps to take a 13-0 lead, both series ending with quarterback Luis Rodrigues hitting Justin Otis. The first connection, which saw Rodrigues roll to his right before looking up and seeing his intended target standing by his lonesome in the end zone, covered 27 yards.
The second Rodrigues-to-Otis hookup, also coming in the opening quarter, was the result of the wideout adjusting to an under thrown ball. With his eyes squarely focused on the floating pigskin, Otis was able to snatch his second touchdown, this one from 30 yards out.
“Otis made some awesome catches,” praised Caito.
Once he realized his team’s passing game was in fine working order, Caito turned to the ground attack to pad the lead. That area, too, was functioning at a high level with tailbacks Mory Keita, Darion Stubbs and Homlin Taylor all scoring in the second quarter.
Taylor’s gallop was most impressive, the senior shedding several would-be Pilgrim tacklers before cutting back to the inside. The run covered 80 yards and provided with a 33-point cushion at the break.
The Tolman defense certainly held up its end of the bargain in the opening half, with the Patriots (1-2) managing just 31 total yards on 28 snaps. Of those snaps, the Patriots had 10 plays that went for negative yardage. Pilgrim finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Jonathan DeVito returned a kickoff 85 yards.
The score came one play after Otis covered 65 yards on a punt return for his third score of the game to put Tolman up 47-0.
“Offensively we did a great job and the defense played great,” said Caito.
The Tigers played the game minus senior running back Elvis George, who injured his knee the previous week against Woonsocket. Tolman was also hurting in other areas as three J.V. players found themselves in the starting lineup Friday.
“We had some team discipline issues that we needed to take care of,” said Caito, whose Tolman crew hosts Mt. Hope next Friday. “We took care of that.”