Best Player: Bobby Bentsen, Sr., QB, Warwick Vets
As a junior last season, Bentsen put up some prodigious passing numbers: 2,542 yards and 24 touchdowns en route to the Gatorade Rhode Island Football Player of the Year award. Returning State Leaders – Passing: Robert Bentsen, Warwick Veterans, 151-261, 2,542 yards, 24 TDs; Rushing: David D’Errico, North Kingstown, 250-1,072 yards, 16 TDs.
Best All-Time Player: Mark Van Eeghan, Cranston West High School
Mark van Eeghan, a Cranston West graduate, received All-State honors at running back in 1969. He spent 10 productive seasons in the NFL, capturing a Super Bowl ring with the Raiders in 1977. He remains the Raiders all-time leading rusher, and still lives in Cranston.
2008 Must See: St. Raphael
Is St. Raphael for real in 2008? The co-ed Catholic school with only a few hundred boys rattled off an undefeated season and became Division 1 champs for the first time since 1984. The Saints beat traditional state power Bishop Hendricken twice, but neither win was by more than three points. All eyes will be on St. Raphael as it attempts to defend the state title.
On The Throne: East Providence
East Providence may have only won four games last season, but it is still one of Rhode Island’s most respected programs. The Townies have captured the Division 1 state title in the last six seasons. Running back Cory Blair is among the leading returnees this fall.
Best Rivalry: East Providence vs. LaSalle
East Providence and LaSalle are two of the more historic programs in Rhode Island. The two have a long history, having met each Thanksgiving since 1929. Recently the game reached new heights, as the holiday showdown was broadcast on local television. Last season, LaSalle had the upper hand, nipping East Providence 21-19 one week before getting knocked out of the playoffs by Bishop Hendricken.
Future Star(s): Nick Keeling, Jr., RB, Ponaganset
Ponaganset’s Nick Keeling rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a sophomore, and was named Division III second team All-State as a kick returner. An extremely versatile athlete both on the football field and in general, Keeling also runs track and throws the javelin for the Chieftains.
Former Bishop Hendricken star Will Blackmon will be battling for a cornerback spot during the Green Bay Packers’ training camp. Blackmon was a two-time All-State selection, and was an All-American his senior season. He went on to have a successful career with Boston College, where he played both defensive back and wide receiver.
MaxPreps Preseason All-State Team
WR – Matt Brown, Hendricken
WR – Tom Cappalli, Cranston West
WR – Jordan Grosso, Burrillville
TE – Stephen Goniprow, Barrington
OL – Sam Chrupcala, Barrington
OL – Chris Brown, St. Raphael
OL – Will Janes, Rogers
OL – Brian McDevitt, North Kingstown
OL – Chris Costa, Warwick
QB – Joe Charest, La Salle
QB – Bob Bentsen, Warwick
RB – David D’Errico, North Kingstown
RB – Cory Blair, East Providence
RB – Remington Alves, Portsmouth
ATH – Josh Cliff, Warwick
K – Sean Kent, Tolman
DL – Matthew Simonelli, Cranston West
DL – Derrick Starnes, Rogers
DL – Paul Link, Hendricken
DL – John Cranshaw, Portsmouth
LB – Alex Monteiro, Portsmouth
LB – Jared DiBiase, Cranston West
LB – Michael Gama, Hendricken
LB – Nico Erausquin, Rogers
LB – Cody Norman, North Kingstown
DB – Mike Read, Barrington
DB – Jean Dean Roussel, St. Raphael
DB – Blaine Waterman, Cranston West
DB – Doug Johnson, Toll Gate
P – Ryan Morris, North Kingstown