As football kickoff inches closer around the country, MaxPreps forecasts the top five teams in the state of Rhode Island for the 2009 season.
Barrington advanced to the Division I Super Bowl in Rhode Island last year and could claim the big prize this season thanks to the return of the state’s best running back in Mike Read. The 5-8, 180-pound senior blazed for 1,300 yards and 21 touchdowns last year to finish second among the state’s leading scorers. Read is just one of several speedsters for the Eagles, who were 10-3 last season. Marc DeSisto returns after an all-state season as a kick returner. He had several kick returns for touchdowns last year and, along with Read, gives Barrington two of the most dangerous big-play threats in the state. The wealth of talent doesn’t stop there for Barrington. All-conference quarterback Steve Crawford returns along with fullback David Silvia. The offensive and defensive lines lost a number of all-conference players and will have to rebuild, although Adam Toman returns to bolster the linebacking crew.
2. LaSalle Academy
The Rams captured the Division I championship in Rhode Island last year and finished undefeated with a 12-0 mark. Additionally, seven starters return on offense with five more on defense. The only downside for coach Geoff Marcone is that he needs to find a new quarterback and his defense may be a little short in the secondary and linebacking department. Whoever does quarterback the Rams will have two excellent receivers in Brandon Gomes (6-3, 190) and Luke Francis (6-1, 185). Gomes caught 28 passes for 467 yards last year while Francis grabbed 17 for 331. Replacing all-state QB Joe Charest and all-state running back Gus Delfarno will be difficult. Francis could move to the QB spot. Matt Keenan (6-0, 210) leads a deep group of returning linemen at guard.
3. South Kingstown
Winners of back-to-back Division II state championships, the Rebels (11-2) begin the season ranked No. 1 in the division and No. 3 overall in the state. The Rebels will miss division MVP Tim Hazard, but a number of defensive standouts return, including Vincent Grasso and Patrick Franco at linebacker, Zach LeValley at defensive end and Ben Hamill at defensive back. All-conference second team players like Ty Stromley (WR/DB), Matt LaValley (LB/OL), Justin Favreau (DE/TE) and Shane McLaughlin (OL/DL) give coach Eric Anderson tremendous depth heading into the season. Hamill is the top offensive threat after throwing for 979 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.
The Patriots’ only two losses last year were to LaSalle and Barrington. Portsmouth also had a regular season win over Barrington for its biggest victory of the season. The Patriots have one of the state’s top defensive ends in Patrick Fagan (6-4, 200) as well as a pair of all-conference linemen in Mike Rose (5-11, 225) and Andrew DeSousa (5-10, 220). Coach Chris Santos will have to find some skill position players to replace the likes of Remy Alves and John Bradeen, the team’s two leading rushers and all-conference picks who graduated last year.
5. Cranston East
If there is going to be a team to challenge South Kingstown in Division II-B, Cranston East (6-4) is that team. With nine starters back on offense and 11 on defense, the Thunderbolts appear primed for a big season. Coach Tom Centore’s team is especially tough in the backfield where Albert Duran (5-10, 215) and Jamey Scheer (5-8, 170) both return to carry the ball. They’ll get help from junior all-conference pick Marco Jones. The Thunderbolts didn’t throw the ball much last year, but both QBs, Brian Corvese and junior Rob Reardon return to share the load. Duran, an all-state pick, returns to lead the defense at linebacker along with Keith Jernquist. Meanwhile returning linemen Josh Downing, Jomar Farrales and Nick Marchand all earned all-conference honors last year.