By ALEX SPONSELLER The Cranston East and West football teams are getting ready to battle once again in the annual Thanksgiving football game that is slated for 10 a.m. at Cranston Stadium. The last time these two rival teams squared off was last spring.
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By ALEX SPONSELLER The Cranston East and West football teams are getting ready to battle once again in the annual Thanksgiving football game that is slated for 10 a.m. at Cranston Stadium.
The last time these two rival teams squared off was last spring. West would roll to a 40-14 victory.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s Thanksgiving game was canceled which will make this the first Turkey Day meeting since 2019, when West took home the 27-0 decision
“It’s been a very exciting week and a half of getting ready to play them. We played them in the spring but it didn’t have the same feeling. We now have the fall feeling with cool weather. It's been exciting for both the players and coaches,” said West head coach Tom Milewski.
“The excitement is through the roof. This game means so much to the community and for both schools. To be able to get back to it and to have the city come out to support both schools, it’s going to be a great day and the kids are excited,” added East head coach Isaiah McDaniel.
Each team had a down fall season as they are rebuilding with young rosters. The Falcons finished the regular season with one win while East picked up a win in a recent exhibition against West Warwick.
Milewski expects a tough battle against the rival Bolts and has been impressed with the improvements they've made late in the season.
“We’ve become familiar with what they’ve got. They have some returners that we saw in the spring, they’ve been playing very well down the stretch and have kicked it up a notch with their physicality. That’s good for them, but that is something that we’re going to have to work on,” said Milewski, who is also excited to see some of the younger guys step up and join the tradition. “We have some underclassmen that have not been here and they’ve been saying, ‘Is this the same game that we saw when we were younger,’ and now they’re playing in it. It usually draws a big crowd, Thanksgiving is a special morning for the state and we’re lucky to be able to play our rival within the same school district. I’m a Cranston guy so I think it’s the best rivalry in the state.”
McDaniel is also looking forward to seeing how his young roster responds.
“We have a pretty good idea of who they are and the things that they want to do, but it all comes down to who plays better on Thursday. That’s why we play it. It’s about who executes best and commits (fewer) mistakes,” said McDaniel. “What makes this so interesting is that we won’t have the senior impact that we’ve seen in the past when it’s the seniors that are only making the big plays. We’ll have some seniors, but we’re going to have underclassmen that need to step up to make plays.”
For many of the players on the East roster, topping the Wizards was their first high school win. McDaniel hopes to see his club build off the victory and finish the season with a bang.
“It’s huge, it’s the first win that we’ve had in three years. That’s a long time. It was great for the program, great for the kids and they’re trying to use that as motivation to end their year strong and finish on a high note,” McDaniel said.
As for the Falcons, their focus will be on winning up front.
“They come right at you and have power running that they’ve been working on the past couple of games. We’re preparing for that. They’re big and they’re physical. On defense, they swarm around the ball so we have been trying to find ways of slowing down their rushes and blitzes while creating holes for our offense,” Milewski said.
Milewski and company are also excited to take one step closer to normalcy.
“It’s great to be back. It was nice to have a full fall season and to be able to play at our home field again on Friday night. This is another tradition that is back and it’s great to have some normalcy and to see us getting back to having a normal society,” Milewski said. “It’s exciting.”
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