Pawtucket Times

McCann-Carter able to experience ‘Disney moment’

- By BRENDAN McGAIR bmcgair@pawtuckett­

CRANSTON — As he worked tirelessly to strengthen a knee injury that sidelined him for St. Raphael’s first two playoff games, Ethan McCann-Carter kept referring to a conversati­on that took place with school principal Daniel Richard.

“You know you’re going to have a Disney moment in the championsh­ip game,” Richard kept repeating to McCann-Carter. “I just kept saying that I know, I know.

“Then it just happened,” he added. “It was God’s plan.”

Divine interventi­on aside, McCann-Carter screamed, “Disney moment!” as he returned to a jubilant sideline with the lone touchdown in Saturday’s Division II Super Bowl in his possession. The vision conveyed by Richard while assisting the St. Raphael senior with his rehab was fulfilled courtesy of a seven-yard touchdown grab with 33.3 seconds remaining. It ended up being the game-winning score as the Saints rallied for a 7-3 victory over Portsmouth in what was a neck-andneck affair of the highest order.

The prelude to McCann-Carter’s “Disney moment” featured several frustratin­g twists that helped make Saturday’s indelible moment worthy of someone sitting down and putting ideas for a screenplay to paper.

The aforementi­oned knee injury came in SRA’s regular-season finale against Burrillvil­le back on Oct. 29. McCann-Carter did dress for his team’s

playoff wins against Shea and Westerly; he did not log snaps in either contest. Officially, he received medical clearance two days before the Saints faced Portsmouth.

Taking some of the bubble wrap off helped pave the way for McCann-Carter to finish with a flourish was simplified in the sense that he would only be out there on offense. Under normal circumstan­ces, McCann-Carter sets the tone in the secondary. He also serves as St. Raphael’s primary option on kickoffs and punt returns.

“We knew that Portsmouth likes to run the ball so there was no point in wasting my energy on defense,” said McCann-Carter.

The Saints trailed 3-0 heading into the final quarter with McCann-Carter targeted several times but with no catches to show for his efforts. For a program eager to erase the sting of being on the wrong end of the previous two Super Bowls, all-too familiar feelings of uneasiness hung over McCann-Carter and his teammates as they sought to walk out of Cranston Stadium a winner.

“He was definitely calling for the ball,” said Daniel Wulf, SRA’s junior quarterbac­k.

McCann finished Saturday with four catches for 26 yards. The first grab saw him pick up one yard with St. Raphael facing fourth-and-two from the Portsmouth 33yard line. That resulted in a turnover on downs with the Patriots and their ball-control offense seeking to melt away the final 5:46.

The opportunit­y for the “Disney moment” received a shot in the arm after SRA’s defense forced the Patriots into a three-andout. After an 11-yard punt, the Saints returned to work on offense on Portsmouth’s side of the field with plenty of time left (3:32).

Mixing the run with the passing game, Wulf flared a couple of screen passes that McCann-Carter turned into gains that covered seven and 11 yards. St. Raphael only made one trip inside the red zone but it proved to be a productive one as McCann-Carter’s 11-yarder moved the ball from the 22 to the 11-yard line.

“He couldn’t do a lot. Bouncing out 10 yards or so, he could do that and it worked,” said Wulf.

Faced with a second-and-six from the Portsmouth 7, the Saints got the matchup they wanted – McCann-Carter 1-on-1 with a defender.

Thanks to positionin­g himself to make sure no one could knock the ball away, the hunch regarding Richard’s belief of a “Disney moment” was in store became the defining moment of a rock fight of a high school football game.

“Rehabbing these past few weeks, I was just trying to get ready for this moment,” said McCann-Carter.

Noted St. Raphael head coach Mike Sassi, “Ethan gutted this one out big time.”

 ?? Photo by Ernest A. Brown ?? St. Raphael junior quarterbac­k Daniel Wulf lets it fly during Saturday’s Division II Super Bowl against Portsmouth.
Photo by Ernest A. Brown St. Raphael junior quarterbac­k Daniel Wulf lets it fly during Saturday’s Division II Super Bowl against Portsmouth.

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