Cam Alves, Cranston West’s senior star quarterback, rushed in two scores and tossed another as the Falcons blanked the Cranston East Thunderbolts 27-0 during their Thanksgiving battle last Thursday at Cranston Stadium.
The matchup featured a slugfest during the first frame with neither school finding pay dirt, but the West offense came alive in the second quarter.
“We started off a little slow, but we battled back and I was happy for that,” Falcons head coach Tom Milewski said. “Seems to be our thing the last couple of weeks, we start off slow, and then we kind of buckle down a little bit and did what we needed to do.”
Some of the West struggle should be attributed to the play of the East defense, who did its best to contain the Falcons offense as long as it could.
“The first half we played well,” Bolts head coach Tom Centore said. “And then, I think we just got overmatched a little bit, especially on the offensive side and we really couldn’t move the ball.”
“It was tough,” Centore continued. “That’s a good football team we played. And they’re impressive. That’s why they were who they were this year. But I was very pleased with the way the kids played in the first half. If we score early, maybe you extend the game a little longer. We had the ball inside the 10. So, I was proud of them.”
The Falcons drew a 6-0 edge with 8:27 remaining in the second quarter, when junior running back Brennan Stetson carried the ball 27 yards before Alves took it two yards and in for the score. Next, Matt Carvalho, a senior kicker, added the extra point and that gave West a 7-0 lead.
West upped its advantage to 14-0 with 3:23 remaining in the first half after Alves rushed a keeper into the end zone from seven yards out.
Then, with 6:44 left in the third quarter, the Falcons increased its cushion to 21-0 when Alves rolled right and dumped a short pass off to Andrew Dionizio, a senior running back, who took it 78 yards to the house.
West earned its final score after it inherited great field position at the Bolts 3, following a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against East, which was attached to a 14-yard run by the Falcons’ James Isme. The senior running back rushed again on the next play and went in for a TD, which gave West a 27-0 cushion.
With the win, West pulls within one (24-23) of tying East in the yearly Thanksgiving series.
At the end of the school year, the Falcons will graduate several key players from their senior class. Many of them played on the CLCF team that won championships from between 2012-15.
Rob Giarrusso Jr., a senior defensive lineman, who played on those CLCF teams, as well as varsity for West his junior and senior year, after taking a year off, was content closing out his career with a victory.
“There’s nothing better than being with the kids, I’ve been with since seventh grade,” Giarrusso said. “The worst mistake I ever made was not playing sophomore year. I’m glad I came back and this is what I wanted to do and I’m glad I did it.”
And while the city rivals have battled on Thanksgiving for 47 straight years, they always try to keep the contest professional while respecting one another.
“It’s a big rival game, but we stay classy,” Giarrusso said. “There’s no fighting. We just stay good throughout the game.”
Following the contest, four awards were given to an offensive player and a defensive player from each team. Receiving the accolade on offense for East was Omar Reyes and on defensive, Jai Clark.
“He’s just been our rock,” Centore said of Reyes. “He really deserved to have one of the MVPs. He blocks everybody. He’s a guy you count on for everything and that’s why he got the MVP. He deserved it. And Jai Clark, a captain, played well.”
For West, Cam Alves took home the defensive player award while Andrew Dionizio got the offensive honor. All four award recipients are seniors.
Milewski, the Falcons head coach, was happy to see his boys gut out the win after falling the previous week in the D-I Super Bowl.
“A disappointing end last week against North Kingstown, but we came out this week,” Milewski said. “We got back to work on Monday, a short week, Monday, Tuesday, and kind of put it all together, came out and we battled. And this senior group has battled all year and they’ve done everything we could have asked.”
“We had a little team meeting last night and I told the upperclassmen that the seniors set the bar high this year,” Milewski extended. “They’ve done everything we could have possibly asked of them and more between offseason training and everything and it’s just been great. I’m happy for the seniors, but I’m sad because it’s the last time I get to coach them.”
And with so many of them leaving, 2020 should bring some uncertainty.
“Next year is going to be interesting, but it is what it is,” Milewski said. “We’re going to enjoy the win today, and then get off into the offseason and start working next week on next year. And we’ll be okay next year. We’ve got some key cogs coming back, so we’ll be alright. But it’s going to be tough to replace Cameron Alves, Andrew Dionizio, Matt Carvalho, Garret Jackman, Nate Sena and Jordan Conner.”
But on a positive note, returning to West should be a stud in Stetson, a star running back, who will be a senior next year.
“Stetson is going to be a good ball player and the sophomore group and freshmen group is going to be pretty good next year also,” Milewski concluded. “So, we’ll be young and we’ll battle. We’ll work and we’ll get back after it.”