NORTH KINGSTOWN - The Saint Raphael football team got a first-hand look at just how hard it is to defeat North Kingstown on Friday night. Hendricken is the only program that’s managed that feat in the past two seasons, but the Saints looked to join their ranks, trailing by two scores at the start of the fourth quarter.
A turnover on downs and interception ended once-promising drives and the upset bid, as the Saints fell to the Skippers, 42-21. NK’s James Osmanski threw for four touchdowns, while Eddie Cardarelli and Ben Gilmartin both had rushing scores.
“Give them a ton of credit,” NK head coach Joe Gilmartin said of SRA. “They’re playing hard, they want to get into the playoffs. They’re a young team. They got better, a lot better tonight. Played really, really well. I wish [SRA head coach] Mike [Sassi] a lot of luck.”
Sassi and his Saints earned some respect from the Skippers by turning what was once a 35-7 blowout into a close contest. Shane Kenyon had already scored three times for NK by the time his team led by 28 points, but that didn’t deter the Saints.
Gray engineered two straight scoring drives from under center, first connecting with O’Malley on a score straight through the middle of the NK defense. The Saints recovered an on-side squib kick to put the ball right back in Gray’s hands, and he cashed that opportunity in just 19 seconds after the previous touchdown.
“It didn’t unfold the way we wanted,” Gilmartin said. “Made some mistakes defensively. They have good athletes, especially in space.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t [when it comes to covering Gray]. Rush him, put pressure on him, he gets out and runs, you’re screwed. You want him to throw it, but then those guys downfield have all kinds of time to find space. It’s a double-edge sword. We tried to do a little of both. Didn’t do it very well. Not as well as I’d like anyway.”
The Saints defense gave the offense plenty of chances in the second half. After Andella made it 35-21, the defense forced a 3-and-out, allowing the offense to march right back into the red zone.
That drive stalled out right around the 15-yard line, where the Saints gave the ball back to the Skippers on a turnover on downs. Another defensive stop gave the Saints another crack at it, but this time Gray was picked off by Kenyon around midfield.
Kenyon ended the day with three touchdowns and that key interception. His speed and versatility were a big reason the Saints couldn’t force the issue in the second half.
“He’s the best athlete that we have,” Gilmartin said. “He’s got the best vertical leap, he’s a phenomenal athlete. Tracks the ball well. Plays real well in space.
“We knew we had them in man-to-man for most of the night. We took him on these really long drag routes. It’s hard to keep that kid… how are you going to follow him from one side to the far side?”
If there’s a way to track Kenyon, the Saints and the rest of Division I haven’t found it yet. NK is now 5-1 on the season while the Saints dropped to 3-3. NK has a big showdown on the docket this weekend against Shea (also 4-1). The Raiders are led by the electric running back Jaylen Smith.
“If you let that kid out, no one is catching him,” Gilmartin said. “No one we have is catching him. Eddie is pretty fast but he doesn’t play defense. He’s the real deal. Jaylen is really, really talented. They have a couple other pieces too. They’re going to run jet sweeps with [Malik Jackson]. They have three or four guys they like.
“They scored 21 on us in the first half last year. Jaylen went 99 [yards]. You get into that kind of game, it could be a real dogfight.”