Clippers building off thrilling victory
North Kingstown stands in Clippers’ way of Division I title game spot
CUMBERLAND — Head coach Josh Lima admitted that Cumberland High’s dramatic 15-14 overtime victory over favored Moses Brown last weekend provided his troops with a thrill they haven’t felt in years after toiling in Division I for so long.
After all, the Clippers not only earned a Division I quarterfinal triumph on foreign turf after losing to powerhouse Hendricken at the same level the season before, but also qualified for a semifinal against North Kingstown, which is the second seed from I-A at 8-1 overall.
That tilt will be contested at noon today at Cranston Stadium.
“I think our guys are excited to be in the state semis; the win is great for the program,” he explained after a recent practice. “It was a hard-fought game, and we’re thrilled to win it.
“We, as a program, haven’t been there – in D-I – since I think the early 1990s. That’s when Cumberland (with then-mentor Chris Skurka in charge) lost to West Warwick in the Super Bowl.
“Like I said, that win (against the Quakers) was fantastic, but we’re not here thinking, ‘Great, we made it a step further than last year,’” he added. “You can’t rest your hat on that accomplishment. Yeah, we beat our first-round opponent, but that’s where it ends. Now we’re focusing on the next step, and that’s playing North Kingstown on Saturday.
“We’re just looking ahead to a new game, and what we have to do well in it to win. We’re doing what it takes to do that.”
Lima and his assistants know that’s no easy task, not against a club that rolled every opponent but one (that being Hendricken) this season. In fact, the Skippers outscored their foes by a total of 316-124, or an average of 39.5-15.5 per game.
They also averaged nearly 40 points per tilt in their previous three verdicts.
“They’re a really solid team; they do a lot of things well,” Lima sighed. “In fact, they do everything well. They’re very disciplined, and multidimensional. They’ll run it, and it’s really crisp the way they do it. Their timing is excellent.”
He referred to junior signal caller Jim Osmanski, senior rushers Gabe Sloat and Tyler Khalfayan, sophomore receiver Tyler Pezza and senior end Jim McGovern.
“All those guys are talented,” Lima noted. “They’re also multiple on defense, so I think we’re see a few different things from them. North Kingstown is so responsible; they all do their jobs very well. They’re always in good position for the plays they’re running, and they’re big up front.
“Obviously, if you’re in the semifinals, you’ve got to be clicking on all cylinders,” he added. “On our side, we have to play disciplined football; we have to be crisp and mistake-free, too. We’ve got to take care of the ball, and we can’t take penalties. Yeah, those are all the same old cliches, but they’re true. That describes playoff football.
“All of the things that you preach at every practice and game during the regular season has to be rote now. All of those things are all the more magnified in the postseason, because – if you lose – you’re all done.
“We’re focusing on the next step, and the guys have been really upbeat at practice. We’re going to do the absolute best we can.”
Dante Aviles-Santos (3) and No. 4 Cumberland travels to Cranston Stadium to take on Division I favorite North Kingstown in the semifinals today at noon.