On paper, it can be said the 2012 season for the South Kingstown football team is one best soon forgotten. Just one season after finishing third in just their second season in Division I, the Rebels dropped to the basement, going 0-8 last fall.
In practice, however, going through such a season can be beneficial for a young athlete as a way to quickly learn nothing in sports is a given and teach the kind of fortitude needed to succeed on the field.
“It’s tough to go through a season like that, but the character of these kids is really good,” says South Kingstown coach Eric Anderson. “They hung together last year and they stuck through it. They understand what it takes to be successful, so it’s kind of a life lesson. The previous year we were pretty good and then we had a large graduating class. Sometimes you think it’s just going to happen for you, but I think this crew understands that they have to put their nose down and get dirty a little bit.
“We have a pretty good core of kids who are returning from last year. The amount of hard work they put in this offseason through the summer and up until now, I’m hoping it translates. …I think we’re close.”
Losing just eight seniors to graduation last spring, the Rebels will be returning core nuclei on both sides of the ball, whose experience will hopefully lay the foundation to solidify South’s offensive and defense.
Quarterback Ryan Worthington should have good skill to work with both in front of and behind him with guards Jake Pare and Ben Agostini anchoring the offensive line and Kyle Favreau at tight end, as well as a rotation of Andrew Benford, Nolan Reifsteck and Rafael Pires carrying the ball out of the backfield.
Defensively, South’s focus will be up front with Ian Doyle, Pare and Agostini returning to the defensive line. No matter which side of the ball, though, Anderson is hoping for a team that is quick and punishing.
“I’m hoping for a little bit of thunder and a little bit of lightning,” says South’s coach. “A little power, a little speed. I feel like we have some decent size.
“I feel like sometimes last year we just got a little worn out.”
With the potential for a better year, South is not being shy about their aspirations for 2013. Early this season, however, the goal for the Rebels will be to focus on the basics so they can continually grow and improve throughout the season in hopes of reaching their ultimate goals.
“Every year, I interview [the players],” Anderson says. “I think their goal, as well as the coaches’ goal, every year, regardless of what you have coming in, is to hopefully earn one of those playoff spots.
“I just want our fundamentals to be down. I want to have a good foundation. That’s kind of been our focus through camp, to just drill the fundamentals before we start getting ahead of ourselves, both offensively and defensively. That’s what I’d like to see. …Can’t build a house without a solid foundation.”
There will be plenty of time for the Rebels to hone all of their skills before it is time to get out under the lights. Two weeks into preseason practices, there are still two more games before they really count.
The Rebels will play their annual Injury Fund game on Saturday at Curtis Corner Middle School, a 7 p.m. contest against Narragansett as their final preseason tune up. They will then go on the road to play a non-league game against Division II West Warwick on Sept. 14 at 12 p.m. before finally opening their Division I schedule on September 20 at home with a 7 p.m. kickoff against defending state champion Bishop Hendricken.