The Cranston East football team has cemented its place as one of the top programs in the state, especially among the public schools.
The Bolts had a successful 2017 campaign, which concluded with their first ever Division I Super Bowl with a 42-28 win over Portsmouth. East also made it to the state championship against Bishop Hendricken back in 2013.
There will be plenty of change this coming season. Between realignment within the divisions and postseason layout, as well as the typical roster turnover at the high school level, the Bolts are preparing to enter 2018 with a new look.
East loses six of its offensive players, including former standout quarterback Justin Neary. The Bolts also lose four offensive lineman, and four more players across the defense.
“We lost Justin Neary, we lost four linemen. But we replace our guys and a lot of the young guys stepping up got significant minutes last year. We have three of our four receivers back. We’ll have to mix and match guys,” said East head coach Tom Centore. “Defensively, we return seven of 11 starters which is not bad. One thing that we always try to do is play a lot of guys, so a lot of these guys got minutes last year, there isn’t a drop off.”
Centore also expects some tweaks in the game plan and strategy in order to accommodate the new faces in the starting lineup.
“It’s going to be about mixing and matching, we may have to coach a little bit differently than other years and it may be a new look. We may need to use guys on both sides of the ball than normal. We a little thin with lineman so we are trying to establish a core seven, we may need to use different rotations defensively, it’s going to be interesting, it’ll be a challenge. They’re working hard though, working out the kinks is what preseason is all about,” said Centore.
Among the key returners is Rayven deOliveira. deOliveira was the East running back last season and also spent time as a slot receiver. His strong 2018 campaign resulted in him leading the state in touchdowns.
The pressure will be on deOliveira, as he is projected to be the team’s quarterback come week 1.
“Rayven was our running back and slot receiver last year, he also played the quarterback position in the wildcat, but he’s not a wildcat quarterback. He’s a major threat as a quarterback because he can run and he can throw. Raven will have to be a star,” said Centore.
Despite the change, Centore is confident in his group, and expects it to rely heavily on its experience and knowing how to be successful throughout the long season.
“It helps when you have guys that know what you have to do to win, it definitely helps,” said Centore. “The kids know that there will be a lot of expectations. This senior group will have to be special, our junior group will have to step up. We’ll just have to see how they develop over the next few weeks. We’ve had a lot of luck … we’ve been the top public school for quite a while, it’s just about getting over that hump against the private schools.”