WOONSOCKET -- Last year’s Division II Super Bowl championship season is a distant memory for players on the 2010 Woonsocket High squad.
“That’s gone,” head coach Carnell Henderson admitted on Tuesday night. “We were a senior-heavy team last year. The kids on this year’s team feel like they were recipients of a championship last year. They want to win one for themselves.”
The Villa Novans are 5-1 with one game left in the regular season. That one loss came against unbeaten Tolman by a 6-0 score back in mid-September.
“Losing that game was a learning experience for us,” Henderson said. “Tolman’s defense gave us a lot of problems. We had trouble moving the ball against them.
“I won’t say it was their team speed that beat us,” Henderson added. “I don’t want to take anything away from them but our kids were young and lacked game experience at that point in the season. We knew coming into the season that we had a lot of guys with talent and very little game experience. There is no substitute for game experience. Game speed is a lot different than what you see in practice.”
Like most coaches, Henderson and his staff judge their team by how much it improves from week to week in a season.
“We’ve improved,” the coach said. “We’re ready for the second season, the playoffs. But I know Tolman has improved, too. And so have some other teams in our division.”
Henderson is looking purely at this season when he labels Tolman the team that everyone wants to beat right now.
“When you are the defending Super Bowl champion, you walk around with a bulls-eye on your back,” the coach said. “But after we lost to Tolman, that bulls-eye went over to them.”
The Villa Novans have one game left in their regular season, a 1:30 p.m. home contest on Saturday against a winless West Warwick squad. After that game, Woonsocket will get ready for a quarterfinal playoff game, at home, most likely on Saturday, Nov. 13.
“I think we’re ready,” Henderson admitted. “Our guys have the experience now. They are recognizing things right away because they have so much game experience now. They understand what their job responsibilities are on each play.”
Woonsocket is led on offense by quarterback Kevin Reyes, running back Jalen Evans and wide receiver Jesse Charette. Co-captains Oswald Torres, Geovannia Heredia, Joe Rodriguez and Joell Sherrod have provided leadersip and strong two-way performances on offense and defense.
It’s a new Woonsocket team this year, intent on carving its own destiny.