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Year two of the rebuilding process for the North Kingstown football team is underway and so far things have gone well for the Skippers.
â€śWeâ€™re getting there,â€ť says coach Joe Gilmartin, who led NK to a 1-6 record in Division II-B (4-7 overall) after three years in which the teamâ€™s only win came in a non-league game against Division III East Greenwich.
Gilmartin knows though, if the Skippers are going to be competitive they have a long way to go with the likes of West Warwick, Cumberland, Rogers, Central, Shea, Pilgrim and St. Raphael all competing in Division II-B.
â€śThereâ€™s no question about that,â€ť Gilmartin says. â€śWe have to get a whole lot better to be competitive. Weâ€™ll find out Friday because I think Westerly will be a good yard stick. Weâ€™re really treating it like a second scrimmage.â€ť
Friday the Skippers will take on the Bulldogs at 6 p.m. at Curtis Corner Middle School and it will give the team its first concrete example of where it stands this season.
Senior Matt Deignan is slated to start Fridayâ€™s game at quarterback for North Kingstown but Gilmartin did say junior Matt Madoian is in line to see playing time at the position this season as well.
â€śI like having two guys. Thereâ€™s a not a whole lot of drop off between them and we run the same exact stuff with either of them,â€ť Gilmartin says.
â€śâ€¦They both bring a lot to that position but Deignanâ€™s been running the ball a little better. Deignanâ€™s a little more accurate, but they both have a pretty good command of the offense.
â€śMadoian doesnâ€™t run the ball as effectively but he throws the deep ball a little bit better. Theyâ€™re both improving.â€ť
In the back field seniors Corey Coogan and Nick Chevalier are getting the bulk of the carrier at tail back, while seniors Manny Vasquez and Evin Barrett will see time at full back.
As far as targets go for Deignan and Madoian, juniors Trevor Huntington, Jake Porter and David Poirier have been getting the bulk of the reps at wide receiver, while junior Sam Vallee and St. Rayâ€™s transfer Terrell Carter are seeing time at tight end.
The Skippers offensive line should be a strength with senior captains Timmy Murray and Tom Culhane at guard, while Gilmartin is hoping senior Mark Rogers can solidify the position at center. Senior Matt Gauthier, Jason Flanagan and a handful of other players are expected to see time at tackle.
Defensively Gilmartin has liked what heâ€™s seen from the secondary in Poirier and Coogan at safety and Huntington, Porter and Scott Deering at cornerback, but knows the front seven will need to improve to allow those players to be effective.
At defensive end Wyatt Fisher, Colin St. Onge, John Motta and Flanagan have all been getting reps, while Dave Gill, David Collins, Brendan Clarke and Culhane have been rotating at tackle.
Murray is likely to start at inside linebacker â€“ with Gauthier spelling him â€“ while Vasquez, Chevalier and Jake Motta have all looked good at outside linebacker.
Of course, the Skippers have yet to play an Injury Fund game and the lineup could change pending the outcome of Fridayâ€™s matchup with Westerly.
North Kingstown will wrap up the preseason Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at Coventry before starting league play at D-II B frontrunner West Warwick Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1:30 p.m.