North­men fo­cused

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­ Fol­low Bran­den Mello on Twit­ter @Bran­den_Mello

Top seeded NSMSC isn’t look­ing past No. 4 Toll Gate in the Divi­sion IV semi­fi­nals to­day at noon at Tucker Field.

NORTH SMITH­FIELD — The top-seeded North Smith­field/Mount St. Charles co-op foot­ball team couldn’t be blamed if it’s look­ing past No. 4 Toll Gate in to­day’s Divi­sion IV semi­fi­nal con­test at noon at Tucker Field.

After all, the un­de­feated North­men scored a pair of touch­downs in each of the first two quar­ters of their league meet­ing on their way to a 35-0 vic­tory in the first week of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

But con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent group of se­niors re­mem­ber for­feit­ing the fi­nal two games of the sea­son back in 2015, NSMSC is tak­ing noth­ing for granted as it plays for its first ti­tle.

“We’re fo­cused and do­ing things as usual be­cause a good week of prac­tice trans­lates to good things on Satur­day,” NSMSC coach Wes Pen­ning­ton said prior to a prac­tice ear­lier this week. “They’ve got­ten bet­ter since that game and they have a few guys play­ing bet­ter than they played that day. For us, we have some dif­fer­ent line­men and we’re a lit­tle more con­sis­tent in our play.

“We’re very ex­cited. We’ve worked hard and paid our dues after for­feit­ing the rest of the sea­son three years ago. Those kids re­mem­ber that. They’ve worked hard in the offseason to get to this point. The kids love play­ing foot­ball and like each other. That’s a good com­bi­na­tion.”

Toll Gate (2-5 Divi­sion IV) is led by dual-threat quar­ter­back Greyson Pasquina, along with run­ning back Michael Ne­gri. Pasquina turns to Ethan Du­rand amongst oth­ers in the pass­ing game. While the Ti­tans own a win over Divi­sion II PCD/Wheeler/Juanita Sanchez, they’ve strug­gled against the other three Divi­sion IV play­off teams.

The Ti­tans suf­fered heavy de­feats to the North­men, No. 2 Pon­a­ganset (26-0) and No. 3 Tiver­ton (47-8). They also dropped their reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale, 26-6, to strug­gling EWG/Prout co-op.

“Toll Gate has big run­ning backs that run hard and they throw the ball bet­ter than most teams in the divi­sion,” Pen­ning­ton said. “You have to be bal­anced with them on de­fense. We have to stop the run­ning game and also the pass. That’s al­ways a trick to han­dle.”

NSMSC (7-0 Divi­sion IV) also runs a bal­anced of­fense, but Pen­ning­ton has a few more weapons than the Ti­tans. Run­ning back Cade Cur­ran should be healthy after miss­ing a cou­ple of games at the end of the sea­son to man­age a thigh in­jury. In his ab­sence, Jor­dan Al­lard and Mount St. Charles full­back Jared Beau­doin have car­ried the load.

In the pass­ing game, ju­nior quar­ter­back Jack Puc­cetti has blos­somed late in the sea­son. Puc­cetti threw four touch­down passes against Hope and he was also su­perb in the sea­son-fi­nale against Scituate. Puc­cetti’s weapons in­clude wide receivers Ja­son Meri­weather, Xavier Croteau, Josh Carufel and tight end Michael Paiva.

“Two dif­fer­ent kids,” Pen­ning­ton said of Puc­cetti’s last two sea­sons. “As a sopho­more he was get­ting the jit­ters out of be­ing a quar­ter­back and mak­ing de­ci­sions. This year, we’ve put the ball in his hands and he’s re­sponded re­ally well. With Cade, it’s do or die time, so it’s up to him to step up and carry the load. The good thing for us is Jor­dan is play­ing re­ally well, too.”

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