Despite falling behind 14-0 in the first half, the Cranston West football team would rebound and cruise to a 27-14 win over visiting Central in the Division I semifinals to punch its ticket to the Super Bowl against North Kingstown this weekend.
“We had turnovers and other mistakes in the first half so at halftime we talked about not turning over the ball, we made a couple of adjustments. It seemed like the kids embraced it. We began playing with more confidence in the second half once we realized that we could hang with them,” said West head coach Tom Milewski.
Central would take a quick lead when Chris Germosen would take a West fumble the distance for a touchdown. Quarterback Malik Monteiro would connect with Ranado McKay for another score shortly after to build the 14-0 advantage.
Andrew Dionizio would haul in a touchdown pass from Cam Alves, and would also return an interception 62 yards for another score. Alves would go on to score two rushing touchdowns to set the score to 27-14 and secure the win.
“It’s good that we dealt with (the adversity) because it refocuses us,” said Milewski. “We’re going up against a North Kingstown team that makes very few mistakes so hopefully we learned a tough lesson on Saturday that will continue to help us overcome adversity. We talk about composure and mental toughness … hopefully we learned our lesson moving forward.”
Saturday will mark the Falcons’ first Super Bowl appearance since the 2005 season. Milewski is proud of his team’s hard work, and was happy to see the drought snapped.
“I’m happy for the kids, they worked hard and did everything that we asked them to do. I’m very happy as a first-year head coach, it’s been a great start,” said Milewski. “The seniors have really stepped up and have helped me along with the juniors, the assistant coaches have worked really hard. It’s fun, it’s a grind, but it’s good. For the kids, it’s what you dream about, playing in the Super Bowl. Now it’s time.”
North Kingstown has also had a historic run this fall, and has averaged 34 points per game thanks to one of the top offensive units in the state. Milewski believes that it will take a stout defensive performance by the Falcons to compete against the high-flying Skippers.
“North Kingstown is a big, physical, strong football team that doesn’t make mistakes. They don’t turn the ball over so we can’t. They’ve got a very good quarterback, very good receivers, they stretch the field to the perimeter with their slot guys and will pound you up the middle with their running back and quarterback. Their line is also very good,” said Milewski.
As the Falcons prepare to play their final meaningful game this season, Milewski admits that he is not looking forward to saying bye to his seniors.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Milewski. “It’s going to be tough for me after Thanksgiving, it’s going to be tough to say goodbye to them. This group is special to me in so many ways, they’ve worked so hard.”