SPORTS

Paye’s drafting opens doors

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 5/5/21

History was made last Thursday to the surprise of very few, as Providence native and Bishop Hendricken alum Kwity Paye was selected 21st overall in the first round of the NFL Draft. Paye was selected by the Indianapolis Colts after a stellar career at

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SPORTS

Paye’s drafting opens doors

Posted

History was made last Thursday to the surprise of very few, as Providence native and Bishop Hendricken alum Kwity Paye was selected 21st overall in the first round of the NFL Draft. Paye was selected by the Indianapolis Colts after a stellar career at Michigan.

This is a tremendous story for Paye, Hendricken and the entire Rhode Island sports community. From humble beginnings as the son of a Liberian refugee to a soon-to-be NFL star, it really is a tremendous accomplishment.

What does this mean for Paye?

What it means is that he has an opportunity to be one of the greatest athletes to ever come from the Ocean State. He was the first player from Rhode Island to be drafted in the first round of the modern draft era.

He is one of the youngest local stars to gain national stardom and from a physical talent standpoint, could make a case as the state’s most dominant athlete ever. NFL talent evaluators say that he is a little bit raw in his technique and is still a work in progress, his daft selection was based more on physical traits and upside.

However, if he can meet the expectations that have been set, or even exceed them, we are looking at an all-time great from Rhode Island and a potential NFL superstar.

What does it mean for us here?

What it means is that even more light will be shed on our athletes, whether it is in football or not. The state has been gaining some traction over the past few years in terms of recruitment. It always kind of seemed like a matter of time.

But with Paye? A first round selection in the NFL Draft? This will take it up another whole notch.

We all see the talent in this state every day, we know that there is outstanding athleticism around these parts. Outside recruiters are beginning to take notice, but now with this, it should be clear that Rhode Island should always be on the list of recruitment trips set by colleges looking for talent.

Thursday was a great day for the state. Hopefully this continues the momentum that has built over the past few years and helps things take off. Congrats, Kwity.

To continue with football, this past weekend was the opening round of the playoffs and they delivered.

Johnston beat Classical in a wild contest and Hendricken grinded out a tough win over North Kingstown, each will be competing in this weekend’s state championships … well, State Championship and Division III Super Bowl.

The Panthers have been the sneakiest great team of the spring if you ask me … and that’s not even hometown bias, I really don’t know how this team hasn’t generated more buzz.

Sure, the 2019 fall was supposed to be the team’s breakout and they laid an egg. They missed the playoffs multiple years in a row, struggled to produce, I get why they were not the top team heading into the season.

But now, they’re 4-0 overall and have been dominant on offense and have held their own on defense. The only hiccup was this past week against Classical where they got dragged into a shootout, but either way, the Panthers got it done.

Hunter Remington can sling it and poses a threat with his feet … he has emerged as a top quarterback not only in the division but in the state. Tom Zednik has lived up to the hype and has been a force all year.

Joey Acciardo has been totally overlooked this season, the kid can flat out fly with the ball in his hands. Deremy and Dillon Stubbs have been a big 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

The biggest question remains the defense in my opinion.

Although Johnston’s defense shut teams down this regular season, the competition was a bit inconsistent. This week against Classical, a legitimate playoff team, the defense struggled and was bailed out by the offense.

Johnston has some size up front, a solid crop of linebackers and speed in the back. The Panthers have enough to play good defense, but it will be another tough challenge this week against Coventry who has been unstoppable in the division.

Don’t get me wrong, the Panthers need to play to their strength which is on offense. I’m no coach, but I feel that they would be best served to let Remington drop back and sling it. Spread the Oakers out, put a pace on them, and let it rip.

Defensively, it’s going to take Johnston’s best performance of the season. Either way, this should be a fascinating matchup between two of the state’s most fun teams to watch.

Hendricken and La Salle will be adding another chapter to their historic rivalry. I know most people are a bit tired of the matchup, and I don’t blame you one bit, but I am actually looking forward to this time around more than any other because of how evenly-matched these clubs are.

The Hawks have dominated the matchup over the past decade except for the one loss in 2017. This year though, the Hawks have some questions despite being undefeated.

They lost their top defensive player this season due to injury in Notre Dame-commit Jason Onye. The defensive line has had enough depth to manage without him, but that is certainly a different dynamic. Also, the Hawks have made a recent change at quarterback with David Lynch. He has served admirably, but how will he hold up on the big stage?

Meanwhile, the Rams have been every bit as good as the Hawks, and in some weeks, have looked better. I just can't wrap my head around a scenario in which this game does not go down to the wire. It really is such a close matchup.

Considering the pandemic and the issues I mentioned above, this will be one of the more impressive championships that the Hawks collect if they get it done.

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