Sentinels seek consistency in tough D-III

Sentinels seek consistency in tough D-III

Smithfield’s Dante Lewis, left, tips the ball, spins around, and makes an acrobatic catch despite having Burrillville linebacker Luke Wilson on him during the first quarter of last Friday night’s Injury Fund game at North Smithfield High. The Sentinels will visit Ponaganset in their non-league opener on Friday night. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Smithfield locks horns with Ponaganset in Friday night’s opener

NORTH SMITHFIELD – After a tough loss in its Injury Fund game against two-time Division III champion Burrillville last Friday night, the Smithfield High football team is ready to start its Division III season.

“Consistency,” Smithfield head coach Cy Butler said last weekend about what his team needs to work on. “I think we showed flashes of good play, but it wasn’t consistent enough for us to be successful, especially against Burrillville.”

The Sentinels are back in D-III this season, but they are no longer playing the Broncos, Lincoln, or the Juanita Sanchez/Providence Country Day co-op team, which had moved up to D-II during the RIIL’s offseason realignment after enjoying success in D-III.

But Butler said the division is tougher than it was last year. Smithfield will play Tolman, which dropped from Division I, Chariho and Pilgrim, which are down from D-II, and D-III holdovers

Central Falls, North Providence, and Narragansett. The Sentinels will open up their season on Friday at 7 p.m. with a non-league game at Ponaganset.

Butler is now in his second year of being the head coach at Smithfield. He said last season was a great year from the perspective of learning. The win/loss record -- the Sentinels went 1-6 in D-III play -- wasn’t where they wanted it to be, but Butler is trying to establish the program.

“I think we now have a certain style that we are trying to develop, but it’s going to take a little bit of time for that to happen,” he said.

The coaching staff is now seeing the players buy into the system through the agility and strength training programs that were available during the offseason.

While last year’s team graduated six seniors, the Sentinels come into this season with eight 12th graders, including returning quarterback Trevor L’Italien. Against Burrillville, L’Italien, who was a Second-Team All-Division pick last season, started the game and junior Morgen Doughty, who will most likely be Smithfield’s starting QB in 2019, got some snaps in the second quarter.

The Sentinels also have seniors Liam Bannon, Alex Aubin, Shane Briggs, and Dante Lewis, and Lewis “is going to be a big-time player for us both offensively and defensively, as well as Jordan Cardoso and Kyle Haberle,” Butler said.

As for his team’s goals and expectations, it’s simply “to get prepared for the next week,” Butler said. “We are not going to look too far ahead. We want to keep the kids current and try to do the best we can on a week-to-week perspective.”

Butler has also grown his coaching staff. At this time last year, he said he had only three coaches, but this year, they have five. Brian Goodhart works with the offensive and defensive lines. Bob Sasso and Mark Roderick work with the running backs and linebackers, and Riley Barron works with the defensive ends and tight ends.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Butler said. “I’m happy the Injury Fund (game) is over and we can get to the real business.”

Senior Trevor L’Italien, shown getting ready to hand the ball off to a running back during last Friday’s Injury Fund game against Burrillville, is back as the Sentinels’ quarterback.