Last year, the Pilgrim football team missed out on the playoffs when it lost to Mt.
Hope in its finale. This year, the Warwick Vets football team was in the same situation, falling to the Huskies with a playoff spot on the line.
Will the similarities extend into Thanksgiving? That Pilgrim team lost to an upset-minded Vets squad last year. This Vets team will be trying to avoid an upset, while Pilgrim will be trying to spring one.
“It’s the same situation, even down to losing to Mt. Hope to miss out on the playoffs, so the similarities are pretty eerie,” said Vets coach Bryan Nappa.
This year’s match-up will be the 50th Thanksgiving meeting between the schools. They’ve been closer in the standings in past meetings – Vets sits at 4-6, while Pilgrim is 0-10 – but when the Pats and ’Canes meet, records tend to go out the window.
“I’ve been saying it for years now – Turkey Bowl is different,” said Pilgrim coach Tom O’Connor.
The ’Canes will be trying to recapture the form that helped them stay in the playoff mix for the first time since 2008. While they’ve lost three straight, their big wins over Chariho and Westerly stand out as the blueprint.
“Those two games, we played perfect football and it showed,” Nappa said.
The ’Canes figure to rely heavily on senior running back T.J. Boyajian, who has rushed for 1,190 yards and eight touchdowns.
“This is his last game as a senior and he’s really looking to shine,” Nappa said.
On the other side, a young Pilgrim team hasn’t yet seen its improvement show up on the scoreboard. Thanksgiving would be a good time for it.
“If you’re going to pick one to win, this is the one,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor will be looking for improvement from his defense on third and fourth downs. The offense will need a big day from Mike Kelly and some quick decisions in the pocket from sophomore quarterback Rob Quaine.
“Offensively, we have to start out like we finished against Toll Gate,” O’Connor said.
But Vets will be looking for its own strong finish.
“You always want to end on a high note, and this year is the 50th anniversary game, so that’s another thing at play,” Nappa said. “It would be great for these kids to end on a high note because they worked hard this year.”
Prediction: Vets 34, 20