The Quest for 4 has begun.
It was obvious following last week's 34-6 win over St. Ray's in the season opener that the football Hawks were ready to start the season strong in their potentially record-setting bid for a fourth consecutive Rhode Island Division I Super Bowl title. While Coach Croft and his entire staff no doubt show each opponent they face the degree of respect that they deserve and take each game seriously, the win over the Saints left some questions as to the quality of victory, coming as it had against a D-II opponent.
Last night, however, was a different story.
A gallery of pictures from last night's game can be seen HERE.
The South Kingstown Rebels provided the Hawks with their first real test of the season, a quality D-I opponent in their backyard. All-State and Superbowl MVP running back Remy Blue, when asked about what he expected from the Rebels prior to the game, suggested that since they (the Rebels) had played very well against West Warwick - one of the serious D-II contenders - last week, he expected a tough game from a playoff-caliber opponent.
For about 2 1/2 quarters, that's exactly what he and his fellow Hawks got.
Make no mistake about it, the Rebels are a good team. They led the Hawks in just about every statistical category at halftime, except for points, as the Hawks held a narrow 7-0 lead. The Rebels' running game seemed to have some success penetrating the Hawks' first line of defense and making its way into the early regions of the secondary, moving the ball with consistent, steady regularity. It simply never added up to an entire, sustained, length-of-the-field drive, as either Rebel penalties or the Hawks' defense brought them to a halt.
The second half (which can be seen here to the right in the Ustream viewer) - especially from the latter part of the third quarter on - was a different story. The Hawks played with a good deal more patience, took what the Rebel defense gave them, and consistently marched down the field. Remy Blue, quarterback Pat Gill, and receivers Power Kanga and Mike Scarcella played pivotal roles by either making plays to keep drives alive or breaking big ones and bringing the ball to the house. When the Rebels failed to convert a 4th-and-12 around the Hawks' 35-yard line with about 5 1/2 minutes to go, the game was, for all intents and purposes, in the books as the Hawks' first win of the year. Final score: Hawks 36, Rebels 14.
There's no doubt, however, that when this game is reviewed by Coach Croft and his staff from the big-picture point-of-view, they'll note that the Rebels are not in any way a team to be trifled with. They're tough and talented, and if they're allowed to hang around in a game long enough, one or two bounces of the ball can change the complexion of a given matchup in a heartbeat.
The Hawks play next at home this Friday, September 27th at 7:00 vs. East Providence, a team that is always tough and well-coached. The Network will be there for live coverage, with pre-game starting at 6:30. Continue to click on The Network for more Hendricken football stuff, most notably the Hendricken Football Podcast with anchors Stone Freeman and Cam Brennan every Wednesday afternoon.