Tolman, CF eye rematch
Tigers take on Pilgrim
PAWTUCKET – Head coach Jason DeLawrence admitted his Tolman High football players aren’t used to being in the position in which they now find themselves – that is one win away from attending their first Super Bowl in eons.
But, should his Tigers get past third-seeded Pilgrim in a Division III semifinal (slated for 3:30 this afternoon at East Greenwich High), that’s exactly where they would land.
Tolman – the division’s No. 2 seed at 6-1 (6-2 overall) – hadn’t won a league game in Division I in each of the past two years, and DeLawrence said the moment hasn’t been lost.
“The kids have been excited; we’ve accomplished most of our regular-season goals that we set for ourselves prior to the start of the season,” he noted. “We’re averaging over 30 points a game, and we’re holding our opponents to two touchdowns or less. It’s been a good season, but it’s not over yet, not even close.
“Everyone now starts at 0-0, and we’re excited about the challenge.”
Based on recent history, it shouldn’t be much of a game, as the Tigers destroyed the Pats (5-3 overall) by a 42-18 count back on Oct. 5. DeLawrence cares little about that verdict, calling it “ancient history.
“They use a spread formation, and their quarterback (junior Mike Borges, who stands 5-10, 190 pounds) is excellent with the ball in his hands,” he said, adding he’s also impressed by junior running backs Demitri Ayres and Ethan Laramee, not to mention classmate and tight end Connor Fallon. “(Laramee) will play at times out at slot receiver, but they like to run him as well, and (Fallon) is their best receiver,” he added. “He’s really tough to cover, runs good routes and has really good hands. We didn’t face him last time because he was out with an injury.”
Defensively, Pilgrim head coach Blake Simpson and his staff will have to worry about containing elusive senior signal caller Justin Klemanchuck, who – in the Tigers’ gritty 26-19 win over North Providemce at Max Read Field last Saturday night – racked up 61 yards and two touchdowns on 13 rushes while completing five of 18 tosses for 180 yards and two more scores, but was intercepted once.
Three of those five completions went to junior standout Isai Prince for 142 yards and the two TDs.
“My QB had one of his best games against Pilgrim,” DeLawrence said. “He ran for two TDs, including a 99-yard scamper, and passed for two more. The thing is, they’re a physical team up front, and they like to put a lot of pressure on your offensive line, not to mention your quarterback. They do that by playing a lot of man-to-man.
“When they played us, they played a 3-3 stack defense, but the last two games – after we exchanged game films – I saw they’ve been in a ‘40,’ which in essence is a 4-4,” he continued. “We’re going to have to make sure we line up correctly on every play, and that we make tackles, whether it be the receivers or the backs – or the QB. That’s been a problem for us all year.
“When we’ve been in our proper positions, our defense has been very stingy. If we’re not lined up right, we give up way too much yardage. We just have to win the turnover battle, and we can’t get penalized. If we avoid those two things and be in the right positions, we should be OK.”
Jason DelaCruz (21, above) and the No. 2 Tolman football team heads to East Greenwich High School today to face No. 3 Pilgrim in the Division III semifinals.
The Tolman football team is playing for its first appearance in a final of any kind for the first time since 2010 this afternoon.