Time to stir the pot.
In the fall season, the Pilgrim sports teams were the talk of the city. Between a state title in boys soccer, a state title appearance in girls soccer, a Super Bowl appearance for football, and playoff berths for girls tennis, field hockey, and individual state championship appearances in cross country, the Patriots won the season overall.
There is nothing like an inner-city rivalry in sports. At all levels, it is always fun to see that dynamic play out. Two teams or schools that compete against each other and are rivals engaged in a territorial battle, that still deep down respect one another considering they come from the same home. It’s something that is always exciting to follow.
Although Pilgrim won the fall, the Toll Gate Titans have jumped out to a lead in the winter.
The boys basketball team is currently undefeated in league play, and recently saw leader Brandon Scott hit his 1,000th point. As of Monday, the girls basketball team sat at 6-3 and well-positioned to clinch a playoff berth. The girls swim team has rattled off five straight wins and sits at 5-1 overall, the wrestling team has rolled to a 7-2 start and the track team has mounted a solid 6-1-1 record.
I wrote a column midway through the fall discussing the potential ceiling for Pilgrim, and now I’m going to do just that with Toll Gate.
So far, the boys basketball team has proven itself to be legit. Scott has continued to be one of the top players in the division, and Kavi Simpson and Aiden Areson have completed a top-notch trio. It’s clear that this team will be competing deep in the postseason, and a state title win is certainly inside the realm of possibility.
The girls basketball team is also square in the middle of the playoff hunt, and could be a potential dark horse down the stretch. Despite losing a handful of key seniors, the swim team has also regained its spot as one of the elite groups in the state. Same with wrestling and track … either of those teams winning a state title would not be a shock in the slightest.
Do I expect to see all of these five teams to win a state title this winter? Of course not, but what if half won? Even if three of these teams were able to pull it off, Toll Gate would immediately jump ahead of the Pats in terms of city bragging rights, and would set the two schools at 1-1 heading into the spring (which is quickly approaching if you ask me).
There is still plenty of time left in the season, and there are many shoes that need to drop in the next few weeks. As a Warwick-based journalist, I’m rooting for all of the sports team in the city … but I do love a good old-fashioned rivalry.
Considering my profession, I’m required to notice these trends and statistics. The local sports fans are very plugged in, but for those who are in a peripheral seat, I would suggest keeping an eye on both schools as we head into the home stretch of the regular season. Obviously, this rivalry is in good fun, but it would be exciting see it taken one step further.
Assuming the Titans finish the winter as well as they have started it, it will certainly set the stage for an interesting spring. With the right amount of buzz, we as a community could certainly sell this rivalry even more, and could make the spring season into a race for who wins the city.