N.K. Skippers football team ready for new season
Small, tough, smart and fast – that’s exactly how Head Coach John Horsman describes his North Kingstown High School Skippers football team. Thirteen islanders are members of this combined junior varsity and varsity team, which practices together and takes the field as one on Friday nights in the fall.
Jamestown stand-outs include starting quarterback, junior Jake Morris, whom Horsman described as a “great kid” and one who has become a quiet, lead-by-example team leader.
Morris is joined by starting offensive and defensive lineman Eric Holtzman, an island senior, who “worked very hard in the off season,” Horsman said.
Rounding out the Jamestown group are sophomores Eric Stroup, Kevin McDermott, Alex Burke, Matt Rafanelli, James Chamberlain and Drew McIntyre, along with juniors Shane Farrelly, Jacob Gomez, Will Sheppard, Emmett Noonan and Nick Luges.
The entire team works hard and is excited for the start of the season, according to Horsman, their second-year coach.
He noted that North Kingston is a young team, playing in the toughest division in the state.
According to Horsman, three seniors – Marcus Morris, Jason Zeramby and Holtzman – help to fortify the offensive and defensive lines, and bring some needed experience to the team.
More playing time and experience for his players is a high priority, Horsman said. Kids that don’t play in the varsity game on Friday will dress and play with the junior varsity on Saturday.
Horsman, who was a significant reason why freshman football was reinstated at North Kingstown last year, said that the freshman program funding is currently scheduled to run out at the end of this season.
There are 72 players between the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams. Horsman is focused on building a program and “getting the [participation] numbers up,” he said.
Those numbers, he said, require that almost everybody play on both offense and defense.
Although Horsman is pleased with the team’s depth on the line and at the wide-out position, he said, “I’d like to see 10% of the boys in the school playing football – about 90 kids.”
In forecasting the season, Horsman said there will be no off weeks.
“Hendricken, LaSalle and East Providence are always tough,” and Cranston East and South Kingstown – both strong programs – have moved up to Division 1, he said. But being in a tough division with lower team numbers than the competition has no effect on Horsman’s desire to keep the Skippers playing Division One.
“I’d rather be at the bottom of Division One than playing in another division,” he said.
Joined by a great coaching staff, that has been around the game forever, Horsman said he and his team are focused on the new season – not on the 0-11 record of a year ago.
“We don’t dwell on it,” he said. He added that there are times when a rare, lackluster practice is referred to as an “0 and 11” practice – not what the program is striving to achieve.
Horsman played football at North Salinas High School in California and he earned his undergraduate degree from URI. He teaches physical education and health at Rogers High School in Newport. His coaching experience is extensive.
Horsman was the offensive coordinator at Salve Regina for six years, spent one year as the quarterback coach at North Kingstown and then returned to Salve as the inside linebacker coach for two more years. He joined the Skippers in 2009 as head coach.
The Injury Fund Tournament will be played at Nick Carcieri Field in East Greenwich on Sept. 3 and a week later, the Skippers will be away at Westerly High School.
The first home football game of the season will be on Sept. 17, against East Providence.