Davies gets ready for Year Two

Davies gets ready for Year Two

Davies head football coach Henry Cabral, right, shown talking to his players during a timeout in a game against Hope during their 2019 inaugural season, will kick off its Division IV schedule on Saturday at noon by playing the Juanita/Providence Country Day co-op football team at Providence’s Conley Stadium. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Improving Patriots face Juanita Sanchez/PCD co-op squad in Saturday’s football opener in Providence

LINCOLN – You may not find a head football coach in northern Rhode Island who’s more appreciative of this upcoming spring season than Henry Cabral.

The architect of the Davies Tech squad that kicked off its program in 2019, Cabral saw his fledgling team improve by leaps and bounds throughout a winless season that saw plenty of positives and gave hope for a bright future.

As a result, the Patriots entered 2020 with plenty of momentum, but when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the RIIL eventually pushed last fall’s season to the unknown two-month “Fall II” period, Cabral kept his fingers crossed that, yes, unlike states like Connecticut and Maine, Rhode Island would still entertain a season that would help his young program continue its growth process.

On Feb. 22, Cabral was all smiles when he and his team began conditioning drills for the upcoming season, which will begin on Saturday at noon when the Patriots visit the Juanita Sanchez/Providence Country Day co-op team at Providence’s Conley Stadium. Thirty-six players, with the bulk of that group back from the inaugural season, make up this year’s team, and Cabral has been delighted with the work his team has put into its preseason.

“We have eight seniors and eight juniors,” said Cabral, whose team nearly defeated the EWG/Prout co-op squad in the fourth week of the 2019 season, but suffered a 19-16 defeat. “We’re going to be young in some spots, but we are night and day ahead of where we were at this time last season. It’s amazing, and the kids see it, and that’s the best thing about it.”

Not only is Davies “night and day” ahead of where it was four weeks into its preseason, “but we’re going to be more athletic than we were last year,” added Cabral. “We have a couple of kids in the building who we didn’t have here last season and they look good in practice, so we’re looking forward to what we can do.”

One of those newcomers is sophomore Antonio Cabral, who played on Davies’ basketball team that won the regular-season title with a undefeated record, and in 2019, was the quarterback of the OakWood Raiders’ youth football team that won the Rhode Island Pre-Teen Association’s varsity championship. This spring, he will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback, and freshman Danny Rose, who is also a slot receiver, will be his backup.

As for last season’s quarterback, junior Matt Patenaude? He will start as a slot receiver and also see time as a running back, and as he was last season, “he’s going to be one of our main focal points to the offense,” added the Patriots’ head coach.

Junior tailback Joe Brooks, who led the Patriots in rushing last season, returns to the backfield, as does junior fullback Anthony Silva, and Davies also added sophomore tailback Damein Scott to the ground game. Joining Patenaude and Rose in the receiving corps are senior Derick Lima, who missed last season with a knee injury, and senior newcomer David Umarudeen.

“He’s legit, he’s smart, and he understands the game,” added Cabral. “so I think between him and Matt, Brooks, Rose, Scott, and Anthony, we could do more things this year than we were able to do last year.”

Returning as the tight end is junior Nick Maston, and three starters on the line are also back: junior center Gianni Laredo, senior Dairon Cruz, who will move from right tackle to left guard, and senior Devanne Lima, who will move from left guard to left tackle. Another returnee, junior Julian Rodriguez, will start at right tackle, and sophomores David Tousignant and Jaden Mercedes will rotate at right guard. Cruz is currently out with an injury, meaning that Mercedes will step in at left guard.

Three more offensive linemen who add to the Patriots’ depth are junior Jasai Boykin, sophomore Justin Frias, and freshman Justin Parfitt.

On defense, sophomores Joe Reid, Frias, Cruz, Maston, Mercedes, and Rodriguez are penciled in on the line. The linebacker corps is a strong one with senior Tevin Lima, Boykin, Rose, Patenaude, Brooks, Scott, Silva, and Tousignant, and the secondary has two seniors at cornerback, Marckus Silva and Moustapha Mane, and Antonio Cabral as a safety. Senior linebacker/defensive end Cesar Pires also brings versatility to the ‘D’.

“We’re going to run a 3-5 this year, so we’re going to have a bunch of different looks on defense,” added the Davies head coach. “And the kids are picking it up really well right now, which is nice. It’s a scheme that kind of fits our personnel better, because we’re not overly big, but we’re a little more athletic and faster, so I’m hoping that pays off.”

After the Patriots’ season opener, they will battle Hope on Saturday, April 2, at 6 p.m. at Classical High’s turf field. Games against Toll Gate at Cranston Stadium, the EWG/Prout co-op team (at a site to be announced), and North Providence on the Cougars’ campus will follow.

“The goal this year was to have a season,” said Cabral. “Our seniors’ goal is to get the program’s first win, and from there, who knows? The goal every year is to win and make the playoffs, and we’re not going to change that goal, even in Year Two.”

Junior tailback Joe Brooks, left, shown racing past a Hope lineman and toward the first-down marker during a game last season, and junior quarterback-turned-slot receiver Matt Patenaude, right, will be two of the top players to watch on the second-year Davies Tech football team, which will play the Juanita Sanchez/PCD co-op team in its D-IV opener on Saturday.