We have been giving the Pilgrim football team a ton of press this season, and it looks like that will continue for another week.
When trying to decide what I would be writing about this week, I was hesitant to once again feature the Patriots. But, at the end of the day, they deserve all the press they have been getting, including this last column here.
What a season, a truly unreal year.
Rarely do we see teams complete the perfect season. Even more rarely do we see teams do so with very little resistance, or while dealing with some of the adversity that this group did.
Now, of course, we know the story of the program’s turnaround over the past two seasons, and we know the whole Warwick sports debacle from last summer.
This was an incredible statement from this group and this team. I wrote a story regarding the sports cuts and spoke to a bunch of kids from the team, including captain Ethan Laramee.
After I completed my interviews and began walking off the practice field, I remember Laramee looking at me saying, “We’ll see you at the Super Bowl.” Mind you, this was back in June.
This team was laser-focused all season long, even before the official year began. This team was hungry to make it back to the Super Bowl after falling short, and even hungrier to win it. It did just that in historic fashion, and now the Pats are the top dog in Division III.
I said this last week, but let’s pump the brakes on a divisional move. Let the champs defend their title and try to go on a nice run here before pulling the rug out from under them.
Although Thanksgiving was just an exhibition matchup, there was plenty to chew on from the Pilgrim win.
The Pats had plenty of blowouts this season, but of the three or four games of theirs I covered this year, last Thursday was the most impressive.
Pilgrim scored on every possession, and outside of one or two drives, completely shut down the Toll Gate offense. This was a legitimate 49-0 takedown.
Sure, Toll Gate was a Division IV team. You have to take that into account, but make no mistake about it – Toll Gate is a good team and went on a run in its division. The Titans deserve our respect regardless of who they are facing.
But on Thursday, it was all about Pilgrim. The Pats were on a mission all season (cliché alert), and remained focused even with a Super Bowl win in their back pocket. They had one last game to win and one last point to prove, and they did it in spectacular fashion.
On to the next topic – is it time to start considering a rotating Thanksgiving football schedule?
I am all for traditions and cross-town rivalries. Those are what make high school and college sports great, especially for Thanksgiving football.
However, when looking at the result of this year’s Beacon Bowl and a couple of the other one-sided contests from the day, is it time that we ditch the tradition of having rivals square off regardless of records, divisions, etc.?
If I had to choose, I would say no. I think the traditions must carry on.
At the same time, though, I do think these types of beatdowns can be demoralizing for the losing squad – and even dangerous at times. The Pilgrim defense is a tough, physical group, and showed it on Thursday. I am sure Toll Gate quarterback Greyson Pasquina was plenty sore waking up on Friday.
Am I suggesting that Pilgrim was trying to embarrass or hurt Toll Gate? No. I just think the Pats were excited to hit the field one last time and were determined to prove that they had the upper hand in the rivalry. The Pilgrim subs were inserted into the game in the fourth quarter, and the Pats were trying out some trick plays and having fun throughout the second half. There was definitely some let-up, even if the scoreboard did not indicate it.
Although I have made the decision to side with maintaining the traditions each year, I do believe that it is time to keep an eye on it moving forward. This year there were a handful of shellackings, which are fine from time to time, but if they become regularities then I believe it is something that must be watched … just to put that on your radar.
The Thursday games also marked the official end of the fall sports season. It was a great year for Warwick sports and an unbelievable response to all of the summer uncertainly. I can’t wait to see you all in the winter.