Villa Novans repeat as D-II champs

Villa Novans repeat as D-II champs

The Woonsocket High football team shows off its Division II championship plaque on Sunday afternoon at Cranston Stadium after defeating Mount Pleasant, 28-0, for its second straight title. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Defense, Coles help Woonsocket rule Mount Pleasant, 28-0, for seventh straight win

CRANSTON – After losing its first four games of the season, the Woonsocket High football team has climbed all the way back to the top to repeat as Division II champions.

Weather-wise, the day was far from ideal, but with their tough defense and persistent offense, the Villa Novans not only took advantage of five Mount Pleasant turnovers, but also did all their scoring in the second half to post a 28-0 victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl at Cranston Stadium.

“It’s been an unbelievable year,” Woonsocket head coach Charlie Bibeault said. “And we did it in the complete opposite way of last year. Last year, we had the (number) one seed and ran the table, but this year, we had to do it all on the road.”

“This is a resilient group of guys,” he continued. “The adversity they handle is unbelievable. I’m just extremely proud of them.”

After riding into the sunset last year with their first Super Bowl title since 2010, the Villa Novans got off to a rough start this season. The lost their non-league opener and first three Division II-A games, but weathered some injuries and adversity to make their way back into the picture.

With a victory over West Warwick, the Novans grew from there and put together a seven-game win streak that included heading down to Westerly to roll past the Bulldogs in the quarterfinals, 33-15, and toppling an unbeaten East Greenwich team in the semis, 7-6.

“We knew we had the injuries, but we never really lost sight of what the plan was,” Bibeault said. “We knew we were going to make our run. We just needed to get our guys back.”

Sunday was miserable, with rain, wind, and a just overall raw feeling, but Woonsocket running back and eventual Super Bowl MVP Logan Coles said that they had practiced with wet balls that had been soaked the previous day to get used to what they would have to face.

“In the first half, (the weather) affected us,” Coles said. “In the second quarter, we got used to it and we started playing better, and the second half, we just came out and got the job done.”

This type of weather usually helps out the defense, while the offense has to be extra careful not to turn the ball over. The Novans committed a few penalties in the first half that hurt them, but at the same time, the Kilties could do nothing offensively.

By halftime, there was no score and puddles on the sideline. The Kilties received the kickoff to start the third quarter and tried to utilize their effective running back, Frederick Mallay, who brought the ball from the Kilties’ 38 to midfield.

But on Mallay’s next carry, he used some quick footwork to gain more yards, but dropped the wet ball for a fumble, and Woonsocket’s Terrell Durden was there to pick it up at the Novans’ 46.

The Novans then went to work offensively with an 11-play, 54-yard drive that saw Coles carry the ball on six of the plays, and on fourth down, quarterback Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan find Eric Agyemang with a 20-yard touchdown pass. Clinton Kittavong kicked the first of his four extra points, and with 6:06 left in the quarter, the Novans were on the board.

“That drive all goes to my O-line,” added Coles, who ran for 110 yards on 24 carries. “Without them, that doesn’t happen and the momentum doesn’t go in our favor. That’s all that matters.”

The Kilties could do nothing right the rest of the way. On their next possession, they started at their own 20, but Corey Brown got the best of their quarterback with a sack, and six plays later, Mallay fumbled the ball again and Woonsocket’s Joshua Pina recovered it.

The Villa Novans then ran five plays before the quarter ended and kept the ball on the ground, behind the running of Coles and Robinson-O’Hagan, at the start of the fourth quarter. Midway through the quarter, Coles capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.

“We’ve been waiting all year for Logan to come out of his shell,” Bibeault noted. “Today, he was a bulldozer. He ran hard and I can’t be any more proud of him.”

The Kilties’ bout with fumbles continued on their next possession. With 5 1/2 minutes to play in the game, the Kilties reached their 34 before a holding penalty stalled their drive. This time, the quarterback fumbled the ball inside the five. Woonsocket’s Leonardo Garcia picked it up at the 1-yard line and carried it into the end zone for the score.

Now up 21-0 with 3:51 remaining, the Novans kicked off again through the end zone, giving the Kilties the ball at their own 20. But they didn’t get very far, and the ball came loose again. This time, Brown scooped up the ball, made a block, and ran into the end zone for the 7-yard score.

“It’s great,” Coles said of the Novans’ back-to-back championships. “You just have to come out here and work hard; that’s what we did all season and it’s paid off for us.”

As for receiving Super Bowl MVP honors, “Without the rest of my team, it doesn’t go that way,” Coles said. “I just got to shout them out. Our glory goes to God and the rest of my team.”

Woonsocket junior running back Logan Coles shows off his Super Bowl MVP award after the Villa Novans repeated as Division II champions by defeating Mount Pleasant, 28-0. Coles ran for 110 yards on 24 carries.