November 28, 2014
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Wrapping up the fall and stacking up the streaks
KEVIN POMEROY

A few thoughts to wrap up the fall while wondering how to clean reindeer droppings off my roof…

After Hendricken’s fourth straight Super Bowl title a couple weeks ago, I got to thinking – where does the Hawks’ football streak rank up there with some of the school’s other notable streaks?

Hendricken is no stranger to streaks.

The swimming team has the longest streak in school history with 24 straight state titles and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. The only thing the swimming team still has left to accomplish is to surpass Mount St. Charles’ record of 26 straight hockey titles for the longest streak of dominance by any high school sports program in the state.

Hendricken’s indoor track team won 17 consecutive titles before losing out to Chariho in 2011-12. The Hawks’ outdoor team won nine in a row from 1998-2006.

The baseball program won four in a row from 1997-2000 and the volleyball team did the same from 2003-2007. Cross country has currently won six straight. The basketball program won seven in a row from 2004-2010.

So which is the most impressive?

It’s hard to discredit 24 in a row, so swimming is probably in a class all by itself. Other than that, though, I think you can make the case that the football team’s run is just as impressive as any of them.

The Hawks have won their four Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks and with no freshmen who have even taken a varsity snap outside of the Thanksgiving Day game. They’ve been the unquestioned underdog in two of the championship games and never once had a Gatorade Player of the Year, yet established a dynasty in a sport that had a way of keeping dynasties at bay for 42 years.

Contrast that with Hendricken basketball, for instance, which was blessed with a Division I college player throughout the first six years of its streak – be it Jimmy Baron, Joe Mazzulla, David Rufful, Ricky Ledo or Billy Baron.

I don’t think that diminishes the basketball team’s streak – it’s still incredibly hard to win in that sport in this state with all the talent and general parity, and the seventh title was done without a dominant player – but it’s just a way of putting the football team’s streak in perspective. The Hawks haven’t once had the best player in the state on their team.

Obviously it’s a subjective discussion. All the streaks are more than a little impressive.

Just a little food for thought.

Team concept works, apparently

Speaking of team-led titles rather than individual ones, what about the Toll Gate boys’ soccer team, which won the D-II title this year for its first championship in 23 years?

The Titans had terrific players, most notably forwards Josh Sandin and Jose Beltran, but neither of them were much of a factor in the championship game. Toll Gate was forced to be patient thanks to a defensive-oriented Lincoln team, and the Titans’ two biggest goal-scorers didn’t find the back of the net in regulation. Nobody did, in fact.

In the shootout of a 0-0, Sandin missed his shot while Beltran made his. But three other Titans made their shots too, and Toll Gate lifted the trophy.

Every team that wins a championship needs stars, and the Titans were no different. But when their stars were neutralized, they had the depth and the presence to get the job done with some of their less-heralded guys.

Toll Gate’s title, and season as a whole, was the highlight of the fall in this city, at least in my eyes.

Goodbye, Podcast

Thanks to everybody who listened and thanks to those who reached out to William and me about the Football Focus Podcast this year. It was probably the best year in the four-year history of the podcast in terms of reception and we hope it was the best year in terms of the product we put out.

We have a ton of fun recording it – even if William insists on strictly playing either Eye of the Tiger or something from the late 90’s at the end of every episode – and we hope you have fun listening to it, too.

Keep an eye on the winter Hawks

I wrote about this last year, but it’s even more likely to happen this year I think – Hendricken could become the first team ever to sweep an entire season’s worth of sports titles.

Last year, the Hawks won swimming, indoor track and wrestling, but didn’t win hockey and basketball. This year, they’re the favorite to repeat in all three they won a year ago, are probably the favorite/co-favorite with Mount St. Charles to win in hockey and all the things I’m hearing indicate that they should be one of the top contenders for the basketball crown as well.

Just when you think Hendricken wins everything…

Kevin Pomeroy is the assistant sports editor for the Warwick Beacon. He can be reached at 732-3100 and kevinp@rhodybeat.com.


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