Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Basketball Takes Down Smithfield, Goes to 2-0

This will be a very interesting season for the basketball Hawks. 

Coming off last year's strong finish in both the division and state playoffs with a relatively young team, this year's edition of the Hawks has every reason to expect to be in contention down the road. With returning juniors and sophomores such as Matt Duffie, Ira Lough, and Kyle Henseler returning from last year's squad and joined by the likes of junior transfer big man Andrew Ciacciarelli and talented freshman Justin Mazzulla, Coach Gomes most likely finds himself and his team in one of those 'tweener' years - a team with the chance to be very good, but how far they go will depend on how hard they're willing to work and how much they learn from their game-by-game learning experiences. 

Having seniors such as Garfield Coustard, Will Parmlee,and Chris O'Brien to help lead the way doesn't hurt any, either.
Last night, in a game once again broadcast live right here on The Network, the Hawks continued the early-season signs of promising success with a 60-41 win over the Smithfield Sentinels. After starting somewhat slowly during the game's opening minutes, the Hawks effectively took control of the game about halfway through the first half and never looked back. 

Viewers can still watch the entire game here on the site, as the first half is available in the central UStream viewer at the top of the page, and all of the second half action can be accessed by scrolling down and clicking on our UStream link at the bottom.

The Hawks were largely led by the play of Matt Duffie (17 points), and other high scorers were Garfield Coustard (11) and EJ Nygren (10), who hit two big back-to-back three-pointers to open the Hawks' lead to 48-34 early in the second half. As usual, though, it was the quiet, efficient work of Duffie that continued to play an integral role in the success of the Hawks' overall game. Several of Matt's highlights can be seen here:
One of the take-aways from the loss in the second game of the BABC over the weekend was that the Hawks gave up too many offensive rebounds to Windsor, most likely a combination of a lack of agressiveness and not having junior big man Andrew Ciacciarelli available. Last night, however, Ira Lough - one of the bigger guys on the court - made his presence felt inside on the boards all night as well as showing that he can be quick in transition:
Along with an improved performance both at the free-throw stripe (75%) and on the glass, in addition to the other outstanding performances of Coustard and Nygren, it was a fairly well-balanced Hawks' attack.

Up next for the Hawks is a trip to Academy Avenue, this Friday night at 7pm. 

We all know what that means. 

The Network will be there, broadcasting live. 

Let's travel well, support our guys, and help them get continue to come out of the early-season gate fast.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Strong Showing for Indoor Track at the Rhode Island Classic

The Christmas/New Year's break is always replete with holiday tournaments, tournaments that do a double duty of sorts. These competitions can, in a sense, serve as both unofficial "openings" for the winter sports season and as valuable opportunities for coaches to place their teams into the cauldrons of serious competition. Players are put into a position in which they have to respond to competing at a higher level, and coaches have the opportunity to see what they've truly got at the outset of their respective schedules.

Both our hockey and basketball teams successfully faced those challenges in their holiday tournaments. While the nature of indoor track is much more a synthesis of individual (competing against your own marks) and team competition, the holiday tournaments themselves can be even more important, given their direct impact on the eventual state meets. On Saturday our guys once again put on their typical strong performance in the Rhode Island Classic, both on the track and in the other events.

The Hawks were not entered in every one of the scheduled events but placed very well in the ones in which they did compete. In the Boys' 4 X 200 Meter Relay, our team of Power Kanga, John Cute, Ronnie Gaynor,and Nick Stravato placed second with a time of 1:35.44, but were unfortunately disqualified much later on in the program - even after medals had been handed out, in fact - due to a controversial lane violation, which, of course, does nothing to discredit their performance. Other top finishers for the day on the track were the 4 X 800 team of Colin Tierney, Jared Boulanger, Avery Ingegneri, and Grant Gauthier (1st place with a time of 8:23.87) and the freshman/sophomore 4 X 400 team of Joe Swift, Kwity Paye, Avery Ingegneri,and Bobby Bordieri (1st place with a time of 3;47.94). Other results for runners were as follows:

4 x 400 - 6th place - Ian MacLeod, Chris Cambio, Dylan DiLibero, John Clavin
Shuttle Hurdle Relay - 2nd place - Gage Powell, Liam Vetter, Dan Medici, Brendan Dillon
Fresh/Soph Sprint Medley Relay - 4th place - Joe Swift, Bobby Bordieri, Kwity Paye, Michael Kiernan Mile Run - 3rd place - Colin Tierney

The Hawks' team of Alex Cerbo, Ben Nelson, and Connor Hurst took first place in the Shot Put Relay, highlighted by Cerbo's toss of 52 feet...:

...and the team of Alex Cerbo, Chris Celona, and Eddie Barber took third place in the Weight Throw Relay, with one of Celona's tosses seen here:
All in all, then, it was a pretty successful holiday run for our winter sports guys. Stay with The Network for as much coverage as we can muster for all winter teams.

Don't forget - Hawks hoops vs. Smithfield, tonight, LIVE, right here on The Network.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hockey Reigns in MSC Holiday Face-off; Basketball Splits in BABC

Our hockey team is rrrooolllliiinnnnnn'...or, maybe, speed-skating over their competition.
Still unbeaten in Rhode Island Interscholastic play, the Hawks ventured up to the home of the Mounties - Adelard Arena in Woonsocket - to take part in the loaded field of teams in the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off. In addition to the Hawks, teams that made their way to northern RI to go head-to-head with other hockey powers were Franklin High School (Mass.), Bishop Guertin (NH), Fairfield Prep (CT), St. Joseph's (NY), and LaSalle College High School (Penn.), as well as our two major rivals here in RI, LaSalle Academy and the host of the tournament, the Mounties.
Last night, the Hawks skated off the Mount's home ice with the tournament title in hand. In the first round, our guys came from behind and took out 15-time Connecticut state champion Fairfield Prep, 4-3,on Jamie Armstrong's goal in the final minute of play. From there they advanced to the semi-final round, where they found archrival LaSalle Academy waiting for them. Led by Reilly Miller's hat trick and Pat Creamer's three assists, our guys controlled the game and dispatched the Rams, 6-3. Four of those six goals came in the first period, two of them by Miller. Photo galleries of the games in rounds 1 & 2 can be found HERE
and HERE.
In the championship game, the Hawks took a 3-0 lead and held off St. Joseph's Collegiate High School, 4-3. Andrew Fera's power-play goal early in the final period proved to be the difference, and other Hawks' goals were scored by Brandon Waterman and Bryce Dolan. The photo gallery of the final game can be found HERE.
So far, the initial returns on Coach Creamer's bunch are pretty strong - unbeaten in league play and some serious hardware (including Andrew Fera's being named tournament MVP) from the holiday season.

As team member Brandon Mitchell tweeted out last night,

Meanwhile, up in Roxbury, Massachusetts, our basketball team was competing in the Boston Amateur Basketball Classic, where the Hawks would face some serious competition.  In the first game, the Hawks took on Dorchester (Mass) High School and fell behing by nine by halftime.  The second half was a different story, however, as the Hawks scored 39 points and put the defensive clamps down and came away with an impressive 58-51 win.  Our guys were led by Chris O'Brien's 14 points and 12 from Ira Lough and EJ Nygren.

In their second game (broadcast live right here on The Network)the Hawks seemed to control the four minutes at the beginning and end of the game. Between those bookmarks, however, Windsor (CT) High School used their speed and offensive rebounding abilities to control the game, taking as much as a 17-point lead in the second half.  The Hawks finished strong, but in the end they simply ran out of time in a 66-57 loss.  All in all, though, the Hawks looked good against such strong competition and hope to take some increased confidence back home to Rhode Island.

The entire first half of the game against Windsor can be seen right here, and the second half is available at the top of the page in the main UStream viewer.

Video streaming by UstreamThe Hawks take on Smithfield next, Monday night at 7pm at Pepin Gym.  That game will be broadcast live right here on The Network.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hawks and Rams Skate to 2-2 Tie, Remain Unbeaten

An argument could be made that since 2006, the Hendricken hockey program has been the best in the state. An early-season favorite for the state title last season turned into March disappointment, however, as the Hawks were swept out of the playoffs in the first round by their archrivals, LaSalle Academy.  If our guys planned on easing into the Division 1 schedule this season, those ideas were quickly dashed on a first look at the schedule, as opening night December 6th  had them up in Woonsocket to take on the perennial powerhouse Mounties in Adelard Arena.  The Hawks served notice that night that the program that coach Creamer and his staff have worked to build over the course of the past seven or so years hasn't lost a beat, as the Hawks skated off the Adelard ice with a 2-1 win.

To date our guys still haven't lost, though LaSalle played them even last night, as the archrivals toughed one another out but never settled anything, as the contest ended in a 2-2 overtime tie.

From the perspective of us guys here at The Network, however, what better way to open up the hockey broadcast schedule than with a hard-fought game between these two schools?  For any fans who may be so inclined, the first and second periods can still be seen by clicking on our UStream link at the bottom of the page, and period number three is available at the top of the page in the central UStream viewer.

The most important take away from the entire game would have to be the outstanding goalie play of our own Christian Maselli and the Rams' Tyler Walsh.  Time and again snipers for both teams worked in for close shots but were turned away, some of the saves simply outstanding ones.  The four goals in the game came relatively early on, with the Hawks jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Pat Creamer and Brandon Mitchell, and the Rams answering with two of their own at the outset of the second. Both of the Hawks' goals can be seen here:

From then on both goalies locked down their respective nets, right through an overtime period.  The Hawks, in fact, had a final power play opportunity with 2:19 remaining in regulation but were unable to capitalize.

So, with the tie, the Hawks go to 4-0-1 on the season and hold onto first place in Division 1.  Next up for the team is the Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off from December 26-28.  The Hawks' first game in the tournament is set for 2:00 on Wednesday afternoon against Fairfield Prep from Connecticut.  The remainder of their schedule will be determined as the tourney unfolds.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hawks and Kilties Trade Punches, but Hawks Win Going Away

The re-building process - or, perhaps, the re-loading process - for our basketball program is well underway. Obviously, schools don't routinely expect to win seven consecutive state titles, an accomplishment on which Coach Gomes and the rest of his staff no doubt look fondly but leave it where it belongs: neatly tucked away in a trunk with a sign on it that reads, "PAST". Last season, Coach Gomes didn't really know what to expect. By his own admission, the basketball program was in a state of transition, and going up against the best that the state has to offer two or three times each week during the winter months wouldn't make the process any easier. With a mix of strong but inexperienced underclassmen and a few seniors, the Hawks managed to finish the regular season with a 9-9 record. That does not, however, tell the whole story, as the team began to gel towards the end of the season and really came together during both the division and state playoffs. In fact, their push during the state playoffs was so good that they were about 1/2 second short of moving to the state finals, as Ryan Hagerty's tough, desperation shot at the buzzer splashed the net just a fraction of a second too late (at about 2:20 of the clip) in a frustrating 48-47 loss to Hope.


Graduated from last year's team are stars Will Tavares and Kazre Cummings, and there's no doubt that their talents and leadership will be missed. Our guys return quite a lot from last season, including senior Will Parmlee, juniors Matt Duffie and Ira Lough, and sophomore Kyle Hensler. Those key players are joined by the likes of outstanding freshman Justin Mazzulla and junior transfer Andrew Ciacarelli, giving the Hawks a solid and more experienced core. As this season unfolds, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch and find out just how good this team can be.

The Hawks got things off on the right foot last night in their first game of the regular season, a league matchup against Mount Pleasant (a game broadcast live right here on The Network, and which can still be seen at the top of the page and/or at our UStream link at the bottom of the page), a team that's more often than not in the thick of things in the state title chase, as they always have talented, athletic players and some guys who can shoot it. The Hawks prevailed, 58-44, but the seeming decisive nature of the final score is not in any sense indicative of the kind of game it was.

The Providence Journal has a slideshow of the game HERE:

In a word, the game was schizophrenic, which, given that it's this early in the season, it pretty understandable. Teams are still figuring themselves out at this point, to say nothing of going up against good competition. Our guys were largely in control of the game for the first half (leading 26-21 at intermission)and into the second, helped bu a 7-point outburst from junior big man Ira Lough. The Hawks were making pretty good account of themselves throughout, as some highlights attest:

With the flow of the game seeming to be with the Hawks, the Kilties put on a furious push and actually took the lead about halfway through the second half. Truth be told, the Hawks probably put themselves in that position by ringing up throughout the game dismal numbers on something that often drives head coaches to distraction: the free throw stripe.

You have to hit your free throws. Missed ones always come back to bite you where you hate it most.

In the end, however, the Hawks put together a run that was a combination of tight defense, some hoops in transition, and some efficient ball movement in their half court offense to pull away. 

Coach Gomes reacted to the season-opening win:

All in all, it wasn't a bad start to the season. It will be fun, though, as has already been pointed out, to watch this group over the course of the season and to find out just how good they can be.

Indoor Track and Swimming Start Fast

The football, cross-country, soccer, and Unified volleyball seasons are now all in the books for the 2013-'14 school year. As great as it all was, it's time to move into the winter sports: basketball, hockey, indoor track, wrestling, and swimming. As we get things underway, both the indoor track and swimming teams have gotten off to their usual fast starts. 

  Coming off an unexpected cross-country state title that was as much a testament to determination, sheer will, and Hawk pride as it was to their talent, our runners and other track athletes have moved seamlessly into the indoor season in their first two meets of the season, knocking off East Greenwich (94-15) and Pilgrim (108-1) in their first match, followed by a similar result in their victory over Cranston West (97-12) and Cranston East (108-1).

While the vast majority of our athletes were fairly dominant in all events as the season has gotten underway, several of our guys were repeat top finishers in their events in both matches. Those performances were as follows:

Nick Stravato, 55-Meter Dash - 7.18, 6.71

Andrew Grady, 300-Meter Dash - 40.28, 40.21

Matt Constant, 600-Meter Run - 1:34.80, 1:31.20

Liam Vetter, 55-Meter Hurdles - 9.08, 8.91
Gage Powell, 55-Meter Hurdles - 9.09, 9.21
Brendan Dillon, 55-Meter Hurdles - 9.44, 9.62

Ben Murphy, High Jump - 1.77, 1.72
Domenic Polseno, High Jump - 1.62, 1.57
Liam Vetter, High Jump - 1.62, 1.57

Alex Cerbo, Shot Put - 14.96, 15.50 
Evan Nelson, Shot Put - 12.69, 13.14 
Ben Nelson, Shot Put - 12.59, 12.75
Connor Hurst, Shot Put - 12.54, 12.83
Alex Cerbo, Weight Throw - 15.47, 15.94 
Mike Tarro, Weight Throw - 14.85, 15.60 

Brendan Conley, Long Jump - 5.65, 5.68
The Hawks also distinguished themselves in the 4 X 200 Meter Relay, as in the first match the foursome of Power Kanga, Ronnie Gaynor, Nate Gyampo, and Nick Stravato clocked in with a first-place finish at 1:38.20, while in the second match Stravato, Kanga and Gaynor were joined by Lee Moses in their first-place score of 1:37.47. 


The legendary Hendricken swim team starts this season in search of its 25th consecutive state title. The team will be led by captains Mike Sundberg, James Manni, Jake Fox, and Jon O'Donnell. Other outstanding swimmers include seniors Dan Federenko, sophomores Marc Andrews and Brendan Crowe, and freshman Max Miranda. 

The Hawks started the season strong last week in the Relay Carnival, winning the overall event by taking 1st place in four of the six events: the mile relay, the 200-Meter Breaststroke, the 200-Meter Freestyle, and the 200-Meter Fly. Our guys took second place in the other two events, the 200-Meter Backstroke and the 200-Meter IAA. Standout performances were put up by Max Miranda, Mike Sundberg, John Beretta, and Brendan Crowe. 

The Hawks' next match will be against LaSalle, a match that was postponed due to weather conditions last week. Watch hendricken.com for the postponement date.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Episode #1 - Hawk & the Gang - "Poker"

For some time now, we here at The Network have been drawing up plans for our own original series of comic, promotional shorts. With an historically-successful fall sports season now behind us, the winter season underway, The Network pulling in ratings that are higher than SportsCenter and 60 Minutes combined, and tonight's first broadcast of the winter season (Hawks basketball vs. Mount Pleasant, 7pm, LIVE, from Pepin Gym) on tap, we felt that this might be an opportune time to unveil for all Hendricken fans Episode #1 of "Hawk & the Gang." 

In order to fully appreciate the life of The Hawk in our school community, we felt it especially important that fans get to both see and appreciate his integral behind-the-scenes role in the studio and beyond. If any fans should so choose, we have in our archives on the site a one-on-one interview with The Hawk that we aired last February, an interview that was so hard-hitting and garnered such incredible ratings that it resulted in The Hawk's being named Time magazine's "Best Mascot Alive". 

So, without further ado, we present Episode #1 of "Hawk & the Gang".


The Gang's All Here - Holiday Roundtable and New Year's Thoughts

With Christmas vacation upon us, our anchors here at The Network decided that it might be best if that before we leave school for our two-week hiatus from original Network programming, bringing all facets of our studio operations together in the spirit of fellowship, harmony, and sports talk might be a solid idea.  All Network shows were therefore represented - the "Stone & Z Show", the "4th & Inches Show", "Talkin' Baseball", along with our newest anchor, Dillon - aka, "The Rookie".  

Today's show was a fast-paced back-and-forth that covered most of the relevant topics in the sporting world, and the most recent addition to our studio operations - the boxing bell - even makes an appearance. The entire segment can be seen at the top of the page in the UStream viewer.

Strap yourselves in....it's a bumpy ride.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hot Stove Talk on "Talkin' Baseball"

Laurel and Hardy - that's all I can think of when I have the privilege of producing Matt and Nick's baseball show.  The chemistry (or the lack thereof, perhaps) that these two passionate fans and astute followers of the national pastime bring to The Network is truly rare.  There are times when I do, indeed, find it difficult to decide whether to laugh or cry.

Today's show cut across the range of hot stove free-agent and trades talk, from Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano, to the Texas Rangers' incomprehensible decision to trade for Prince Fielder, to Matt's insistence that Ben Cherrington really doesn't do a very good job (?) in the Red Sox front office.

So, strap yourselves in, because the next 35 minutes  is a laughably bumpy ride.  The entire show can be seen at the top of the page in the UStream viewer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fall Sports 2013

As we here at The Network have been up and running now for about a year, and since we've had some fantastic work and contributions from all of the students involved in learning the possibilities of new media, we figured it might be a good idea to put together a seasonal sports video for our teams at the conclusion of each part of the year. As the recently-completed fall season was basically the first time we had everything truly working, and because this year's football accomplishment was so significant, now's probably the time to get this feature started. 

Bishop Hendricken's Fall Sports.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


From the first day of double sessions back in August, head coach Keith Croft, his staff, and his team had the same goal that they've always set out to accomplish - a state championship. While the goal has always remained the same, however, this season carried with it the specter of another accomplishment, one that remained largely unspoken as the Hawks moved through their regular-season schedule:

the chance to make history.

Since 1972, when the Rhode Island high school playoffs first became official and state championships and super bowls immortalized the ultimate victors, not one high school had ever won four straight - until the Bishop Hendricken High School Hawks turned the four-peat between 2010-2013. Coupled with their appearance in the Super Bowl in 2009 - when they lost to Barrington - it's now proper and appropriate to call our guys a dynasty.

Coach Croft reacted to the win after the game:

Senior co-captain Mike Scarcella also expressed his thoughts:

Strictly from the perspective of Rhode Island high school football itself, it was an incredible Super Bowl Sunday. Fans were outside the stadium parking lot as early as 8:30 am, starting their day with breakfast tailgates, the smells of sausage, eggs, and coffee filling the air. There was a sense of anticipation hovering over the parking lot as well, since this chance at the state tile for the Hawks carried with it something special. Of course, one of the crews leading the way into the day of festivities was The Network - parked outside the parking lot with an incredible pre-game show put on for the fans by anchors Stone Freeman and Zach Johnson. I think it'd be fair to say that for a high school sports production, it had a distinct 'ESPN' feel to it.

While there was that sense of a chance to be there to see history for Hendricken fans, the coaching staff and the team itself knew that the Cranston East Thunderbolts weren't about to stand aside and allow the Hawks to be crowned. Yes, we'd beaten them 35-7 earlier in the season, but as Coach Pantaleo said following the semi-final win over Portsmouth, "East is for real." In a follow-up discussion prior to the title game, he pointed out that East is probably the best offensive team in the state; even though our defense is very good, he felt that part of their (the Hawks') approach was to know that they probably wouldn't be able to stop them throughout the game. He felt that our guys would have to more slow them down and be able to take advantage of matchups when we had the ball.

Coach Pantaleo was, for the most part, prophetic, as East put up 34 points on our guys, but we were able to hang 45 on them.

For most of the first quarter, it appeared that not only might this be a tight game but that East might truly win. The 'Bolts held leads of 7-6 and 14-13, and in the process, seemed as though they had no fear of the Hawks' defense, as they more or less moved the ball at will. QB Pat Gill had gotten the Hawks on the board early with this TD run:
With East on the move on an early possession and knocking on the door of the goal line, defensive back Matt Duffie came up with this crucial INT in the end zone:
The Hawks' other offensive touchdown of the half came from the running of Remy Blue:
After having taken that second lead with under a minute to play in the first half, however, East made a critical error by kicking off to Lee Moses, which resulted in the first game-changing moment of the game, a play which can be seen here:
As a result, the Hawks went into the locker room with a 19-14 lead.

As the second half began, our guys lengthened their lead to 26-14. Having the opening possession of the second half was the result of Coach Croft's decision to defer after having won the opening coin toss, so that coupled with Lee's return for a touchdown just prior to the half paid dividends, as the game began to take on a distinct Hendricken feel. The 'Bolts, however, never went away, consistently moving the ball with relative ease against our defense and keeping themselves in the game; but, when our defense needed to make critical stops, they did their job.

As the second half unfolded, though, it was the running of Remy Blue - voted the game's MVP - and Lee Moses that helped the Hawks gradually to pull away. Two of Lee's long runs and a touchdown run can be seen here:
Remy ran for three touchdowns in the second half, all of which can be seen here:
So, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the goal for which our guys set out back in August came to fruition, and History welcomed a new member into its club of dynasties. For our seniors, it's been a football run like no other - not only has this class run the table, but as freshman, they also took home the top prize. 

Enjoy your time, guys. Moments like these in life are rare, and you'll always look back at these days as some of the greatest of your lives. Congratulations.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

State Semi-Final: Hendricken vs. Portsmouth

With Sunday's Super Bowl between Hendricken and Cranston East quickly approaching, we here at The Network are happy to provide one more opportunity to watch the majority of the Hawks' win over Portsmouth from Tuesday night.  #GOHAWKS
Video streaming by Ustream
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It's Thursday....So It's Time to Go on "4th & Inches"

As usual, The Network's Thursday afternoon NFL duo of anchors Cam Brennan and Remy Morris took their places at the studio table to break down all things football.  Today's show ranged from the developing NFL playoff picture, to Mike Tomlin's apparent decision to put himself in on defense, to discussions of potential MVP candidates and the upcoming weekend's games.  The largest portion of the show can still be seen in the UStream viewer at the top of the page. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One Step Closer

History is now within their grasp. 

No Rhode Island high school football team has ever won four straight state titles.  Not one. Of course, this state has seen its share of sports dynasties - Mount St. Charles hockey is probably the first that always comes to mind, but there's also the football runs of Rogers and Portsmouth (to say nothing of our own in the early-to-mid '90's), our basketball program's seven state titles in a row, and our baseball team's general run of dominance since the late 90's. There has never been, however, a football run during which a school managed to string together four titles in a row. 

Not one. 

Now, our guys have that chance. Ironically, this run began with a loss to Barrington in the 2009 Super Bowl, which means that our upcoming appearance in this Sunday's 2013 Super Bowl against Cranston East (noon, Cranston Stadium) makes it five consecutive trips to the showcase game. In a game once again broadcast live right here on The Network, our guys punched their ticket to the Stadium last night with a fairly dominant performance in their semi-final victory over Portsmouth, 36-15. Network sideline man extraordinnaire Max Zweiner caught up with Head Coach Keith Croft immediately following the game and got the coach's reaction to the win:

Hawks' fans can still watch the largest portion of the second half in the UStream viewer at the top of the page.

I say that it was a "fairly" dominant performance, because as in all things, it's important to be fair; Portsmouth is a very good football team. If not for the ability of our defense to stiffen during moments when it counts most, the halftime situation could have easily been much different. The Hawks led, 15-0, at the half, but for all intents and purposes, it was still a much closer game at that point. If there is, indeed, any truth to the generally-accepted axiom that "offense wins games, but defense wins championships", then our guys proved that last night. 

Two of the game-changing moments came when quarterback Pat Gill hit wide receiver Mike Scarcella at midfield for a 95-yard touchdown, which can be seen right here:

...and the defensive stop generated by our defense after a Portsmouth 65-yard kickoff return to the Hawks' 10-yard-line with 22 seconds remaining in the first half. The Patriots took four shots at the end zone but came away with zero points to end the half. One of the plays in the defensive series for the Hawks can be seen here, in which defensive back Matt Duffie makes an outstanding play to once again deny the Patriots:

In fact, had the Patriots managed to score early in the game - when they drove to the Hawks' 5-yard-line, failed to punch it across, and then missed a short field goal - and during the sequence at the end of the half, this may have been a much, much different game. 

Highlights for the Hawks were many. Quarterback Pat Gill threw for three touchdown passes, two of which went to senior co-captain Mike Scarcella. In addition to the 95-yarder above, the two seniors also hooked up for one of fifty yards:

Pat also ran for a touchdown of sixty yards, in addition to hitting Mitchell Lucci for another score thirty seconds before the half. He also got the Hawks off and running early in the game with this 54-yard run:

Pat was not the only Hawk to add to the highlight reel. Running back Gary Gibbs pitched in with a 35-yard run in the second half, and Kyle Ciquera did his best impersonation of Wes Welker with this grab:

All in all, however, the real story was the defense. We may not hear their names all the time, they may not be flashy, but they make it possible for the Hawks' offense to put some distance between themselves and their opponents. A common truth about life is that the people who simply go out and do their jobs are the ones who are seldom rewarded with accolades but are inevitably the most valuable. So it is with our defense. 

So....History waits to see if it can welcome a new team into its ranks. This Sunday, our guys will line up against the Cranston East Thunderbolts, a team with incredible offensive firepower. Should anyone doubt that, all one has to do is to take a look at the job they did last night on Barrington, the #1 seed, in the other state semi-final. As Coach Panataleo said last night after the game, "East is for real." 

Let's show up in force for our guys' shot at history, in what will essentially be a home game for the Thunderbolts. Let's get loud, let's support our guys, and let's make sure that East knows we're there.

The Network will be. You can count on that.