2011-10-13 / News

Skippers look to break losing streak against East Greenwich

BY MARGO SULLIVAN

This week’s football game against East Greenwich Saturday could mark a turning point for the North Kingstown Skippers, the players say.

It could be something as simple as a victory.

North Kingstown’s roster includes 10 Jamestown players, and they have gone home every weekend without a win since two seasons ago, they said.

Jacob Morris, senior quarterback from Jamestown, and teammates like junior Kevin McDermott, 15, say they want to “break the losing streak,” and they know they will have opportunities, even against tough Division I teams like La Salle.

Morris and the rest of the team hope the new artificial turf will trip up the Rams, who have been waiting for their new field to open and meanwhile have been playing home games at neutral locations. La Salle’s first actual home game on the artificial grass comes Oct. 21 against the Skippers.

Other big upcoming games include Cranston East on Homecoming Day, and rival South Kingstown on Thanksgiving, Morris said.

No question, the team’s goal, according to 17-year-old senior Emmet Noonan, is “winning a game and winning multiple games.”

This weekend’s matchup against East Greenwich, also a tough opponent, but not a Division I league team, may be one of those winning opportunities, the players said during practice Tuesday. The Avengers are coming in with a two-game losing streak after Classical shut them out 37-0 on Oct. 7.

So far this season East Greenwich has put two games in the win column, beating Burrillville outright but also being awarded a victory over Lincoln, which forfeited the game after clobbering East Greenwich 20-0. Their quarterback

Andrew Miner threw two interceptions and passed for -17 yards, but East Greenwich wound up with a victory because Lincoln mistakenly put an ineligible player on the field.

“The first win is next,” Jacob Gomez, 17 and a senior, predicted.

East Greenwich plays in Division III, a different conference, and ranks 33rd in the state, lower than North Kingstown, in the 28th spot.

At Tuesday afternoon practice, the team suited up in gold and white uniforms and took the field, while Coach John Horsman reviewed plays and strategy.

“Shut down the zone, and you win,” he told them.

Morris, 17, figures the team can beat East Greenwich by “shutting down their offense.” That will mean putting pressure on their stars, quarterback Andrew Miner and running back Carney Crawford, his teammates added.

According to 17-year-old Jared Nimblett, a senior guard and middle linebacker from Jamestown, the Avengers’ quarterback is dangerous because “he has great vision” and sees the coverage, along with who’s open and how plays are developing.

Matt Rafanelli, 16, said the team would also have to “shut down Number 22,” the sophomore running back Crawford, who’s averaging more than 4 yards per carry and has rushed for more than 100 yards per game.

“He’s talented,” Rafanelli said.

James Chamberlain, 16, a junior, said the Skippers also must stay focused for the whole game.

“We don’t finish,” he said. “We don’t play consistently.” Chamberlain said the Skippers have turned in two good quarters every game, but they haven’t been playing hard all four quarters.

It’s been frustrating, they said.

“Breaking the losing streak” has become the team’s focus, according to junior Kevin McDermott, 15.

“It’s tough to get our pride back,” he said. The Skippers are in a long losing streak that started McDermott’s freshman year after 22 senior team members, including Kevin’s older brother and Jacob’s older brother, graduated. That team left with a winning record, but rebuilding the past success has not been easy, McDermott said.

“Going into freshman year started the downfall,” Kevin said.

Last year, the Skippers went 0-11. This season, they have lost to Westerly, Cranston West, East Providence, Barrington and Bishop Hendricken, but they still have six games left on the schedule and mathematically could still come up with a winning season.

And they realize they have been pitted against the state’s best football talent, they said, with this schedule. On paper, they came into the games at a disadvantage.

The Bishop Hendricken Hawks, for example, are ranked second in the state. They rode a two-game winning streak into the game against North Kingstown and had an overall 3-1 record, with the only loss coming to La Salle.

Cranston West is also a powerhouse and considered the state’s third best program.

Barrington is fourth, East Providence is fifth and Westerly rounds off the state’s top teams in sixth place.

Meanwhile, one Jamestown football player is out for the rest of the season due to injury. Drew MacIntyre, 16, a junior, said he’s been sidelined due to two concussions. He attends practices with the team, but he can’t play, he said.

Alex Burke, a 15-year-old junior who plays cornerback, thinks the players owe their parents a “shout out” for sticking by them.

The parents give the team a pasta party every Thursday night, he said.

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