Some of Cranston’s best high-school football players will strap on the pads and step onto the turf at Cranston Stadium one last time this weekend. The stadium is playing host to the second annual Rhode Island High School Football Coaches Association Senior All-Star Game on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The game will be the second installment of the intra-state all-star series that began last year, when the Governor’s Cup game between Rhode Island and Connecticut was discontinued. Teams of graduated seniors, split into East and West squads, will square off.
As always, it’s a chance for one more go-round on the gridiron.
“I think a lot of kids just really want to play more football,” said Moses Brown head coach Willie Edwards, who heads up the East squad. “For some of them, this is going to be their last opportunity. It’s exciting for everybody.”
Rivals during the regular season, Cranston players will both play in the all-star game for the West team, which is led by Classical head coach Kris McCall.
The full roster for the West team was unavailable at press time. Cranston East anticipated having 10 players in the game: quarterback Alex Corvese, receivers Jimmy Saab and Danny Cornelio, running back/punter Bruce Soscia, and linemen Eric Almonte, Greg Scott, Josh Santos, Austin Stadelbauer, Mike Rodriguez and Dale Rodriguez.
Cranston West should also be well-represented, with linebackers Jack Hammond and Jake Moretti, plus defensive back Alex Cortellessa and lineman Jeremy Wilner among those expected to be in uniform.
The dividing line for the teams is Interstate 95, which provides a pretty even break, especially in Division I. Bishop Hendricken, Barrington and Portsmouth send players to the East team, while Cranston East, Cranston West and La Salle contribute to the West squad.
Last year’s inaugural game was put together last-minute, when the Governor’s Cup series was not renewed. But even though it was patched together, the game went off without a hitch, drawing in the best players and packing the stands at Bryant University.
Interest remained high this season, and the coaches association expects a big crowd again as the game moves to Cranston Stadium.
“These kids never experienced the Connecticut game,” Edwards said. “All they know is this game. There’s a lot of excitement. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”
The East won last year’s game thanks in large part to the dynamic play of Portsmouth’s Bobby Chavous and Matt Greenman, who both went on to Mount Ida College.
Talent will be all over the field again in 2014.
Corvese will be at the controls of the West offense after a record-setting career at East. He passed for more than 3,000 yards this season, while throwing 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Corvese will have one of his favorite receivers in the fold with Saab suiting up. He racked up 843 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
Their East teammate Marven Beauvais, the state’s leading receiver, opted not to play in the game due to a heavy summer course load at the University of Rhode Island, where he’ll play in the fall.
Cranston West’s Hammond and Moretti will help anchor the linebacking corps for the West squad, while Cortellessa should be a key player in the secondary. He was one of the state’s top cover corners this past season.
The West team will have its hands full with the East team, which is headlined by two-time Super Bowl MVP Remington Blue of Bishop Hendricken and reigning Gatorade Player of the Year Matt Sewall of Portsmouth. Blue rushed for nearly 3,000 yards in his Hendricken career and was right at home at Cranston Stadium, where he won his Super Bowl hardware. Sewall, who played quarterback for Portsmouth and rushed for nearly 2,000 yards this past season, will line up all over the field for the all-star squad.
“They’re very talented,” Edwards said. “We have to find ways to get the football in their hands. Remy has looked really strong. A lot of our game plan is going to revolve around getting him the ball.”
The running back corps also includes Portsmouth’s Travis O’Brien. Moses Brown’s Eric Cosmopoulos and East Greenwich’s Andrew Miner are handling the quarterback duties for the East. Cosmopoulos ranked second in the state in passing yards to Cranston East’s Corvese, with 2,629. Miner was fourth with 1,762.
Edwards thinks his defense will also be a strength. First-team All-Staters Carl Neff of Exeter/West Greenwich and Sam Greenfield of Moses Brown will anchor the defensive line, in front of a linebacking corps headed by Barrington’s J.R. Martin and Moses Brown’s Bryan McAdams.
“Our defense should be pretty strong in general,” Edwards said.
Edwards has been involved in the all-star program for five years, beginning with the Governor’s Cup. With that perspective, he’s been impressed by his team’s togetherness.
“I’ve been involved in the all-star program for five years and I’ve never noticed a team come together so quickly,” he said. “They’re all getting along and grasping everything we’re doing. Football IQ is probably our biggest strength.”
Whatever happens on the field, everyone involved expects the all-star game to be a success once again. Rhode Island struggled to win the Governor’s Cup the last few years.
In this game, everybody wins.
“It’s nice to have a home game,” Edwards said. “You get more kids involved, more coaches, the game is in Rhode Island so more fans are coming. It’s a fun time.”