The undefeated, No. 1 seeded Bishop Hendricken Hawks drubbed the No. 5 seeded Portsmouth Patriots 35-8 on Saturday afternoon at Cranston Stadium to win their second straight Division I Football State Championship.
Hawks senior wide out and safety Angel Sanchez rushed in two touchdowns, and caught another, and was given the Frank Morey Memorial Award as the game’s MVP.
“He’s been huge for us for three years and I’m happy with the type of game he had,” Hendricken head coach Keith Croft said. “He was doing everything – offense, defense, specials, but he’s been our big guy for a while.”
It marks the third state title for the Hawks senior class, which, along with Sanchez, includes twin brothers Tom Comella, a quarterback, and Nic Comella, a running back.
And the coach couldn’t be prouder of the soon-to-be graduates.
“It feels great,” Croft said. “I mean, that’s something that we talk about, something that we talk to the seniors about, that we know what it feels like to lose one. So, we wanted to win one today and that was important.”
And the Comella brothers wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“That’s what we wanted to accomplish all season long,” Tom said. “It started in the summer and we worked hard all season. There were some ups and downs, but we had a great season. Everyone worked hard and we got it done.”
The twin duo took turns running the ball all season and it led the Hawks to yet another title.
“It’s been great playing with him all these years,” Nic said. “And now this is the end of our high school career, and it’s a great feeling, and I’m so excited for the both of us. To go out here the last time with the guys and just take the win, I can’t explain it. There’s no better feeling than this.”
Sanchez put the Hawks up 6-0, when on first down of their second series, the speedster ran middle-left, 52 yards to pay dirt. Next, Cole Peterson, Hendricken’s senior kicker, booted the extra point and expanded the Hawks margin to 7-0.
The Hawks increased their buffer to 14-0 with 1:55 remaining in the second quarter when Sanchez rushed in his second score from six yards out.
And that is where the teams stood at halftime.
“Portsmouth, they played hard,” Croft said. “We knew that going in. They’re a tough team. Well-coached, disciplined. We knew this game meant a lot to them. So, we didn’t expect them to just come into the game and lay down. We knew they were banged up, but they battled. They gave us everything we could handle.”
Early in the second half, Hendricken faced a second-and-2 when Nic Comella rushed left for a 21-yard gain. Then, Tom Comella rushed into the house from five yards out and upped the Hawks advantage to 21-0.
With two minutes left in the third frame, Portsmouth turned the ball over on downs to Hendricken at the Patriots 48.
And on first down, Tom Comella ran a keeper right, broke a tackle, and took it 17 yards for a first down at the Portsmouth 31. Next, the senior QB tossed a 31-yard dart to Sanchez in pay dirt and that gave the Hawks a 28-0 cushion.
With 9:27 remaining in the contest, Portsmouth inched within 28-6, when on a second-and-goal, Luke Cafarella, a senior running back, rushed up the gut and in for the score from one yard out. After that, Andrew Perry, a sophomore kicker, shanked the extra point.
Next, Portsmouth attempted an onside kick which backfired when it was recovered by Hendricken near midfield.
And on first down, James Gobewole, a senior running back, rushed down the left sideline 56 yards and into the house for a touchdown and ballooned the Hawks buffer to 35-6.
With 3:08 left, Portsmouth got within 35-8, when on a fourth down from its own 27, Hendricken had a bad punt sail into the end zone for a safety.
With the triumph, Hendricken has now won nine of the past 10 state championships, but each one is special to Croft.
“It’s important,” Croft said. “We talk about it. We’ve got a lot of alumni and former players that reached out to us this week and talked about the importance of the game and it’s something we really impart on the kids and we’re glad that they’re a part of it.”