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.”