Freshman football season a success
Don't let the North Kingstown freshman football team's record fool you. Although they won only one game, all parties involved saw this season as a huge success. Head Coach Andy Donnelly said that this was the biggest turnout North has ever seen.
"We had a great group of kids and the numbers speak for themselves. When you look at the number of kids that started, we ended with pretty much the same amount at the end of the season. That is a huge retention rate," Donnelly said.
A former North football player himself, Donnelly remembers having a roster half that size. "Usually people drop out. This season we started with 42 and we were scrambling for equipment. When I played, I think we had about 20 and the year below us had 13, so this was a huge turnout."
Ten Jamestown residents added to the depth of the team. "A lot of the starters came from Jamestown and we needed them," said Donnelly. Included in that group was Shane Farrelly, who was voted one of the team captains by his peers. Donnelly described him as a "vocal leader," and said Farrelly had prior experience coming in and the other kids really looked up to him.
Prior to high school, Farrelly played for the Narragansett Raiders for two years. He also participated in the Jamestown Recreation flag football league that was started last winter by Bill Piva and Mark Swistak. Farrelly played offensive tackle and defensive nose tackle for North and loved playing at the high school level. He said, "It was really fun even though our record was not that great." Farrelly is looking forward to spending time in the weight room in the off-season and playing next season when JV and varsity practice together. "It should be a lot of fun."
Donnelly has been coaching the freshman team for three years. The team has just one win this season, but, like in past seasons, Donnelly felt it was not for lack of heart but lack of experience. "As far as organized football and putting pads on, I would say maybe 25 percent have that experience. Then you have the kids that have been fooling around in the backyard playing football with their friends and maybe 10 at the most played for the North Kingstown Jaguars," Donnelly added. "It is really not much experience at all. We play against other Division I teams that have extremely well-attended junior programs, like Portsmouth, that has kids that have been playing together for 10 years already by the time they get to high school."
Donnelly had good things to say about other islanders including Jacob Morris, Emmet Noonan, Danny Bailey and Will Sheppard. "Jacob was a great kid to have. He will do anything and he was out there pretty much every play. Emmet is a good kid and hopefully he will stick with it. He was a pleasure to have and he worked hard. Danny was another key player for us. Will was our kicker and he did well for us in that position."
Morris' only football experience was Jamestown flag football. "This was really fun. I loved it," he said about his first season playing football.
According to Donnelly, freshman football is a whole new atmosphere and it takes a lot of getting used to. "We are not concerned with our record, because in our program we focus on building the fundamentals. We are just getting them used to playing games and playing how we want to them to play," Donnelly said.
Keith Kenyon, athletic director and head football coach, said, "Although our team did not have a successful season in terms of wins and losses, the foundation has been set for their future success. They have learned the fundamentals needed to move to the next level of football."
Donnelly said they were a great bunch of kids and they were there to learn. Other islanders on the team include Jacob Gomez, Nicholas Lutes, Adam Page, James Perry, and Josh Sheehan.