As many of you already know, I am not a very forgiving person when it comes to scheduling.
I hate postponements, I hate time changes, I hate weather delays, and I have never shied away from voicing my displeasure when the high school sports schedule gets jumbled in any way.
However, I applaud the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and many of its member schools for recognizing the importance of protecting its players, coaches and fans from the harm that has been caused by the Triple E virus that has begun to run rampant throughout portions of New England.
In short, Triple E is a virus that is carried by mosquitos that is passed along to humans when bitten by the insect. The virus causes rapid brain swelling that often leads to brain damage … roughly a third of the cases turn out to be fatal.
Unfortunately, the infection rate has only increased over the past few weeks and nearly half of the state has been put on alert. There have been cases in nearby Coventry and West Warwick, and more cases are expected to emerge in the coming weeks.
Due to the crisis, many schools have been scheduling games earlier in the afternoon to avoid exposure to mosquitos. That is also including football, which is obviously played on most Friday nights.
I love the Friday night lights. Seeing an entire community gather each week to watch its team do battle is one of the greatest traditions in American sports. I am by no means happy to have to put that on hold and am certainly missing it to start the fall, but it is something that is necessary and sensible.
I have also been encouraged by the support of the community as well. I’ll admit, when these types of outbreaks and diseases are spread to areas nearby, I usually don’t pay attention to it.
What are the odds of actually being infected? Are all cases really that severe? Those are the questions that I usually ask that put my mind at ease and the dilemma on the back burner.
This is different though … this is one of those times that I am actually paying attention.
From what I have seen, the general public has been on board with the schedule changes as well.
Luckily, the threat will be over in a few weeks once we get the first frost of the season. I’m sure that things will be back to normal by midseason, and we will be able to squeeze in a few Friday night games before the fall is over.
Until then, let’s stay safe and enjoy our sports regardless of the time of day.
Now, I have to gripe about one item that surprised me last week.
Last week, the week 2 media football rankings were revealed, and Pilgrim landed at No. 19.
Look, I understand that the Patriots are in Division III, I understand that they fell in the Super Bowl last year, and I understand that it is still very early in the season. But I reject the notion that there are 18 teams in the state that are better at this moment, and the Pats only further solidified my point by rolling to another lopsided win over Smithfield on Saturday.
Pilgrim’s stock was low entering last season, but if you don’t recall, it went on a huge run that led to the Pats being within an arm’s reach of winning the Division III crown. That momentum has carried over into this season, as Pilgrim has toppled each opponent it has faced.
The Pats are the best team in Division III right now, hands down. Am I a little biased as a Warwick reporter? Sure, there’s a touch of that, but make no mistake about it, No. 19 is too low regardless of where my loyalties lie.
In my eyes, there are currently a “Big 4” in the state, and that includes Bishop Hendricken, La Salle, North Kingstown and Cranston West. Beyond that though, I don’t see a huge difference between the rest.
Obviously as a Division III team, the Pats would be considered the underdog to most DI opponents. That’s fair, but I truly believe that Pilgrim would beat some of the lower-seeded DI schools.
Division II also has a handful of tough teams, but once again, I believe Pilgrim would beat many of those clubs.
Now, am I trying to advocate for say, a top-5 ranking? No, that objectively would not make sense at this point. However, top-15, maybe even top-10? I think that somewhere in that range is appropriate for the time being, and the fact that Pilgrim barely even made the top-20 is wrong.
Mike Borges is on his way to becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the state, Demitri Ayres has proven to be able to be a workhorse despite is size, Connor Fallon is a top receiving target in the division, the Pilgrim front on each side of the ball is nearly all seniors, Ethan Laramee is elite in the defensive backfield, the young coaching staff is continuing to establish a winning culture, there is just so much good happening with this team.
I was skeptical all last season, admittedly, but have totally bought in on this program. It’s a long season, for sure, and the Pats still have not totally proven themselves, but I’ll just sit back and watch them be doubted. I’ll be here waiting to say I told you so.