Tol­man, CF eye re­match

Tigers take on Pil­grim

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS - By JON BAKER jbaker@paw­tuck­et­

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.”

File photo

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.

File photo

The Tol­man foot­ball team is play­ing for its first ap­pear­ance in a fi­nal of any kind for the first time since 2010 this af­ter­noon.

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