One of the more fascinating stat lines stems from how many NFL teams end up qualifying for the playoffs after starting out 0-2.
A blog entry that appeared on the New York Times’ website earlier this week noted that, since 1990, “only 22 of the 184 teams that started the season 0-2 ultimately made the playoffs.” Referencing back to when the league last expanded in 2002, just 10.1 percent of the 79 teams saddled with a donut and exactly two “L’s” were able to right the ship and achieve postseason status.
We bring to light this cold, cruel reality due to the circumstances surrounding several area high school football squads heading into Week Two of league play. Tolman, Woonsocket, Lincoln, Central Falls, North Smithfield and Burrillville are all passengers on the same 0-1 boat that seeks to avoid taking on additional water. A win this weekend would go a long way in plugging said hole with a sign displaying “.500 record.”
It may seem “apples-and-oranges” silly to compare the NFL to high school, but keep this in mind: Pro teams have 14 opportunities remaining to climb out of the sink hole of their own creation. In R.I. Division(s) I, III and IV, most teams will be down to six league games remaining after this weekend while Division II participants will have five games left to qualify (Note: D-II is the only one that holds a playoff round prior to Thanksgiving).
Time may appear of the essence, but in the eyes of Woonsocket head coach Carnell Henderson, the notion of combining games together is a road best not traveled. Henderson’s Villa Novans welcome 1-0 Warwick Vets to Barry Field Saturday afternoon.
“When you talk about putting together a string of wins or staying away from a string of losses, I think you’re still living in the future and staying in the past. Your fate won’t be determined in the first two games of (the league slate),” says Henderson, whose Woonsocket squad opened II-A play with a 43-6 shellacking against Johnston. “I try to stay in the moment and (Saturday against the Hurricanes) is another opportunity for us to get better.
“We have to respect our opponent, and – if we take care of things – we’ll be 1-1, which is one way to look at it,” added Henderson. “I kind of look at it and say, ‘We have to worry about this game.’ If you do that, the record will take care of itself at the end of the year.”
In Tolman head coach Dave Caito’s case, the approach that’s being taken is not what his team’s record will look like following Friday’s contest with perennial contender La Salle Academy at Pariseau Field. Taking a look at the schedule and seeing that Tolman in its first year as a newcomer to the state’s top tier would kick the season off with Cranston East followed by back-to-back weeks against La Salle and Bishop Hendricken, Caito is asking his players to hang tough and understand that this challenging stretch will be in the books by the time October hits.
“We’ve told the guys that we need to weather this storm and get through it healthy before facing the public schools,” Caito stressed.
That said, Caito isn’t about to concede Friday’s game to the Rams. “Athlete-for-athlete, we can go toe-to-toe with them. The only difference is that they have a lot of one-way players and we have eight guys who (play both offense and defense).”
For Lincoln and Burrillville, each Division III outfit will collide with an opponent that seeks to jump-start its season and avoid having to burrow out of a 0-2 hole. The 0-1 Lions head to “The Reservation” on Saturday for a matchup with 0-1 Ponaganset. The same day will see the 0-1 Broncos welcome 0-1 Narragansett to Alumni Field.
As for Central Falls, the 2011 Division IV runners-up head to East Providence for a Saturday clash against 0-1 PCD/Wheeler/Juanita Sanchez. Due to the West Nile virus mosquito threat, 0-1 North Smithfield moved Friday’s home game against Exeter/West Greenwich to 4 p.m. Saturday at Smithfield High School.
For those that finished the first week unscathed, the goal remains to keep building on the momentum already achieved. Cumberland hosts 0-1 Rogers in II-B action Friday at Tucker Field. Staying in the same subdivision, Shea heads to Conley Stadium on Friday to tango with Central, while St. Raphael ventures to Maznicki Field Saturday to face West Warwick.
Finally, East Providence will play its Division I opener Friday night when the defending Super Bowl champs from Hendricken pay a visit to Pierce Field.