Pa­tri­ots are ready to play

Davies Tech adding foot­ball start­ing next sea­son

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JON BAKER [email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

Davies Tech will start var­sity foot­ball pro­gram

LIN­COLN – It’s been a hot topic of con­ver­sa­tion at Davies Tech for over 40 years, since just after its open­ing in 1972.

“My son Cooper grad­u­ated from school here two years ago, and he al­ways used to ask me, “If we had foot­ball, I’d play in a heart­beat. Why don’t we?” ex­plained Davies Tech ath­letic di­rec­tor Bob Mor­ris. “At that point, I didn’t know, so I told him that.

“The main rea­son, from what I was told, was the money fac­tor,” he added. “Still, when­ever I subbed in class­rooms, I’d talk to the kids, ask them, ‘What are you look­ing for when it comes to new sports at Davies? What would you want to play?’

“The No. 1 an­swer: Foot­ball.”

That dream for so many fi­nally be­came re­al­ity Mon­day, when new School Di­rec­tor Adam Flynn-Tabloff gave Mor­ris the of­fi­cial “go ahead” to be­gin the fledg­ling pro­gram, which will be­gin with pre­sea­son work­outs next Au­gust.

“The re­ac­tion has been in­cred­i­ble. I’ll walk through the halls and the kids, even the teach­ers, will ask me, ‘Is it true?’ When I nod, they say, ‘I’m so ex­cited. I can’t wait.’”

Davies will face its first-ever grid op­po­nent in mid-Septem­ber, and hopes to do so at Bryant Univer­sity, which has al­ready given Mor­ris per­mis­sion to play home games at its sparkling sta­dium. Mor­ris con­firmed it all while re­lax­ing in his of­fice early Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

“Adam gave me the OK late Mon­day morn­ing,” Mor­ris grinned while dis­cussing de­tails of the project, which be­gan only seven or eight weeks ago. “I was ac­tu­ally pass­ing him in the hall­way, and he just said, ‘We’ve got ev­ery­thing set. Ev­ery­thing’s in play for foot­ball.’ I im­me­di­ately said, ‘Fan­tas­tic! Can I an­nounce it?’

“Turns out, I didn’t have to. He said he was about to put out an e-mail to the fac­ulty and staff,” he con­tin­ued. “We hadn’t told the stu­dents yet; we’re go­ing to make that of­fi­cial soon, but every­one knows about it. The re­ac­tion has been in­cred­i­ble. I’ll walk through the halls and the kids, even the teach­ers, will ask me, ‘Is it true?’ When I nod, they say, ‘I’m so ex­cited! I can’t wait!’

“This is a ‘go,’ a great go, and every­one is thrilled, but now comes all the hard work.”

Mor­ris in­di­cated he con­tacted the Rhode Is­land In­ter­scholas­tic League, and of­fi­cials told him to send a let­ter dic­tat­ing Davies’ de­sire to be­gin build­ing a grid pro­gram.

“They also told me that when we re­ceive the reg­is­tra­tion form in May (for which fall sports we will com­pete in next school year), all I have to do is check off foot­ball,” he stated. When asked if the new pro­gram will have to serve a one- or two-year pro­ba­tion­ary pe­riod – that is, play­ing only at the ju­nior-var­sity level so ath­letes can grow into their roles – Mor­ris claimed it wouldn’t.

“We’ll go var­sity and, hope­fully, JV, right away,” he said.

Peo­ple ap­par­ently have talked it about for decades now, but no one re­ally picked up the ball and ran with it. At least not un­til Mor­ris.

He ad­mit­ted he’s al­ways loved the game, played at Shea back in the mid-1980s un­der then-head coach Fred Pa­s­tore. He would have loved for his son Cooper to play at Davies, but he had to set­tle for base­ball.

“When I be­came the AD for Bill Meekins in July, I thought about it, but it was, like, the ele­phant in the room; peo­ple had tried to get it done, but – for what­ever rea­son – didn’t,” he noted. “There were too many stum­bling blocks.”

He nev­er­the­less started look­ing at what the school could add for new ath­letic en­deav­ors at the school, those that fell within the depart­ment’s bud­get, and it didn’t take long for Davies to OK var­sity cheer­lead­ing and Es­ports, and it ac­tu­ally will start its new girls’ vol­ley­ball pro­gram late next sum­mer as well.

“Still, every­one kept bring­ing up foot­ball, so that’s when I con­tacted (teach­ers) Henry Cabral, who I knew coached foot­ball at Mount Hope, Bill Meekins and Dave Cham­pagne; all of them are cur­rent or for­mer coaches here,” he said. “I asked them if form­ing a foot­ball team was vi­able, and they gave me a host of ideas about pos­si­ble ob­sta­cles. Nat­u­rally, fund­ing was the big one.

“We talked about do­ing a co-op, but we fig­ured it would be more ben­e­fi­cial, and sim­pler, if we did it our­selves. I started mak­ing out a bud­get for only a base pro­gram, just what it would take to get it off the ground, and the num- ber I came up with was about $45,000; that for uni­forms, equip­ment, etc.

“This was all through Oc­to­ber, and then I took it to Adam, who said the num­bers weren’t out­ra­geous. He and a lot of peo­ple had thought pre­vi­ously they would be. He said he’d look into it, then get back to me.”

Flynn-Tabloff then sched­uled a meet­ing with Mor­ris and other ap­pro­pri­ate school of­fi­cials. The AD got the OK on Mon­day.

“I’ve been work­ing here for 13 years as a teacher, su­per­vi­sor of aca­demics and as­sis­tant di­rec­tor be­fore be­com- ing di­rec­tor, and stu­dents and fac­ulty have al­ways talked about it,” he said, grin­ning ear to ear. “I know when we have open houses, fu­ture stu­dents have brought it up, too.

“I know ath­let­ics can be a huge part of a child’s ed­u­ca­tion. It can keep them en­gaged in aca­demics, want to come to school ev­ery day so they can play; it also ex­poses them to pos­i­tive role mod­els and teaches them things you can’t al­ways learn in a class­room. This is a very im­por­tant thing for our school; we have a lot of great things hap­pen­ing within our sports arena, so it’s an ex­cit­ing time for us.”

He then pointed to­ward the cor­ner of Mor­ris’ of­fice and smiled, “We even have a new mas­cot.” There was the hefty, car­toon-like head of a Pa­triot (though noth­ing like Pat Pa­triot).

“We’re not wor­ried at all about at­tract­ing kids,” said Mor­ris, who in­di­cated he’s still in the process of form­ing a coach­ing staff. “We knew we’d have plenty. I think we have about 25 who are play­ing or have played on the youth level, so we should be OK from the get-go.

“We haven’t or­dered uni­forms or equip­ment or foot­balls yet, but Henry and I have been tex­ting back and forth when we watch col­lege foot­ball games, and we’ll say, ‘What you think of that de­sign?’ How ‘bout that?’ We’re try­ing to think of ev­ery­thing.

“The mood here is just un­be­liev­able,” he added. “This is the first time Davies has ever fielded a foot­ball team. I’ve heard from some of the (cur­rent) se­niors, who said, ‘You’re go­ing to start one up now? Are you kid­ding me?’

“I still think they’re ex­cited, be­cause I tell them, ‘Hey, next year, you can come to our Home­com­ing game.’”

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Davies Tech High School di­rec­tor Adam Flynn-Tabloff, left, and ath­letic di­rec­tor Bob Mor­ris dis­cuss the ex­panded ath­letic pro­grams at the school, in­clud­ing a foot­ball team, at the school Wed­nes­day. The foot­ball team will play in Divi­sion IV start­ing in 2019.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Davies Tech High School di­rec­tor Adam Flynn-Tabloff, left, and ath­letic di­rec­tor Bob Mor­ris added four new ath­letic pro­grams to the school, in­clud­ing foot­ball. The Pa­tri­ots will also add teams in girls vol­ley­ball, cheer­lead­ing and es­ports.

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