Coming weeks in D-1 will serve as a challenge
EAST GREENWICH - At long last, the coveted Rhode Island high school football season has arrived. Six months behind schedule and noticeably shorter in length, the 2021 Fall II phase of athletic competition on the gridiron is bound to look like no other. The dwindling days of summer that lend their way into crisp, chilly autumn evenings of football seasons past will be temporarily replaced by later sunsets and increasing temperatures.
For the East Greenwich High School football team, the next several weeks are poised to serve as a steep challenge for a program moving up in the ranks. What they make of it remains to be seen, but the Avengers are hoping that their recent ascension to Division I play winds up paying dividends in the long run.
First, a brief look back at what they have accomplished thus far:
Dating back to the middle of the previous century up through present day, EG has been crowned state champions a total of seven times. Five of those titles came in Division III play, including their most recent one in 2015, a season that saw quarterback Nick Andreozzi named the RI Gatorade Player of the Year. Their 31-6 triumph over Classical at Cranston Stadium capped a perfect 8-0 season, giving the school their first D-III title since 2006. In between that time, a pair of finals appearances in 2012 and 2014 each ended with losses at the hands of Middletown, making for a ten-year span that saw the Avengers go 2-2 in championship contests.
The school’s first football championship came back in 1956, an honor the Avengers shared along with Warren, a program no longer in existence. EG would go on to claim titles again in ’65 and ’99 with another two taking place in ’78 and ’84 as members of Division II, which is where they have been the past several seasons.
Now, the Avengers have a new test awaiting them, one that will likely be the most trying one of all: the manner of how they will fare in D-I.
As members of the state’s top legion of teams, EG will be joining the ranks of an elite group of programs that include the likes of Bishop Hendricken and La Salle. The Hawks have dominated the football scene in the Ocean State, especially within the last decade, winning nine titles since 2010. 2017, the lone exception, saw La Salle come out on top. As a whole, the two programs account for more than 30 state championships, leaving little room for a newcomer like the Avengers to join in on the fun.
That doesn’t meant though that EG is incapable of spoiling the party and ruffling some feathers. The unorthodox setting of a spring football season featuring just five regular season contests may be just what they need to get their inception into D-I off on the right note.
After tomorrow’s meeting with the Thunderbolts, the Avengers are set to return to Cranston Stadium next Friday for another 6 p.m. kickoff against the venue’s other occupants, the Cranston West Falcons.
From there, EG will host Central the following Friday, April 9 in the home opener before welcoming Portsmouth to town for a no-league matchup on April 16. The regular season will wrap up a week later on the road at Curtis Corner Middle School with the Avengers going up against SK, hoping that the playoffs await them shortly thereafter.