LINCOLN – In Year 1, the goal was to build the foundation for a successful high school football program.
In Year 2, the goal was to simply win a game, and in Year 3, the goal was to reach the Division IV playoffs.
Now it’s Year 4 for Davies, and the bar has been raised again.
“Our goal is to end our season in Cranston,” said head coach Henry Cabral, referring to Cranston Stadium, the site of the RIIL’s Super Bowls. “We talked about it since the end of last year. That should be every team’s goal, but our kids are focused on ending our season in Cranston.”
“And I think it’s attainable,” he added. “It’s achievable. We’re turning into a legitimate football program, and we just have to keep working hard everyday in practice and do the little things that we’re able to do.”
After watching his team post a 5-3 mark, reach the D-IV semifinals, and give eventual undefeated champion Ponaganset “somewhat of a fight” before suffering a 29-6 loss, Cabral has plenty of reasons to be very optimistic about his team.
Forty-five players are currently on his roster, but more than two-thirds are back from last season. Fourteen are seniors, and six were with the Patriots since their inaugural RIIL season: offensive guard/linebacker David Tousignant, defensive end Jahni Belcher, nose tackle Mario Tapia, two-way tackles Justin Frias and Joe Reid, and wide receiver Lloyd Kollie.
“In years past, we had to do a lot of teaching, but now we move along so much faster,” noted Cabral. “And the commitment level of my upperclassmen is great – they’re locked in, and I’m really happy for them.”
Five players who earned All-Division honors last year highlight the returnees, and leading the list are senior quarterback Antonio Cabral and junior tailback/linebacker Danny Rose, who received First-Team recognition, and Tousignant, who was a Third-Team selection.
Those three players are also the Patriots’ captains, and the head coach added that “we will also pick a game captain each week based on their performance and commitment to our program.”
Cabral, who is a three-year starter and will also see time as a linebacker and defensive back, “has done a great job for us,” said the head coach. “He’s been to every workout in the summertime, and he’s becoming a really good student in school. He’s going to have a really good season.”
Expect Rose, another three-year starter, to also be all over the field, playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball, as well as serving as the kickoff and punt returner.
“We have big plans for Danny,” said the head coach. “He’ll be more involved in our offense and he’ll slip right into that role that (graduated standout) Matthew (Patenaude) had last year. I really think he’s going to have that breakout season. We know what he can do, and I think people in the state are going to find out what Danny can do.”
As for Tousignant, “the gains he has made since his freshman year have been tremendous,” added the head coach. “I know he’s also going to have a really good season.”
Receiving Second-Team honors last season were seniors David Laquale and Kanz Giwa, and while Laquale returns as a defensive back, Giwa, like Rose, expects to see time in multiple positions, especially at defensive end and as a hybrid running back.
The offensive line consists of junior guard Dante D’Amico, sophomore center Noah Melucci, and Frias, Reid, and Tousignant. Sophomore Ziahair Gibau will also rotate at slot receiver and running back, and three returning receivers are senior Lloyd Kollie, junior Aiden Cote, and sophomore Benjamin Bin.
The Patriots also plan to throw three freshmen into the starting lineup. Jaydason Gonzalez will be in the backfield and the secondary; Jomar Lopes is another wide receiver, and Edgar Melendez will start at inside linebacker.
Defensively, most of the starters on offense will be pulling double duty, including Cabral, who “in some weeks, you’ll see him in the box, and in other weeks, you’ll see him in the secondary,” said the head coach. “We have a few different defenses that we will run, based on the teams we will be playing.”
Other players to watch are junior defensive backs Anthony Verella and Jose Lugo, junior running back/defensive back David Salako, and sophomore linemen Edward Guzman, Davian Lopes, and Ethan Wild.
The Patriots experienced another “first” in their program last Friday night when they took on neighboring Tolman in the program’s first two-quarter Injury Fund game at Tucker Field. Davies won the game, 20-6.
“I do believe that school pride is won on the athletic field,” added the head coach, “and I think our team this year has a good opportunity to bring a lot of pride to our school.”
Only one team moved from D-IV to D-III during the RIIL’s offseason realignment, Ponaganset, and replacing the Chieftains in the division is the Central Falls/Blackstone Valley Prep/Achievement First co-op team, which was winless last season. The other D-IV teams are nearby North Providence, Smithfield, and Scituate; the EWG/Prout and Juanita Sanchez/Providence Country Day co-op teams, and Tiverton and Hope.
“I think now, top to bottom, our division is going to be pretty much comparable,” added the head coach. “I don’t see any bully in our division or a team that much ahead of everyone’s else, and week to week, I wouldn’t be surprised to see any team beat another team.”
The Patriots will open their season on Saturday at 11 a.m. by heading to Exeter/West Greenwich High to face the EWG/Prout co-op team, which reached the D-IV Super Bowl last season.
“Our goal in a couple of years is to be in Division III,” said the head coach. “We’ll about it with the kids and we’ll about it with the coaches, and I can’t see why teams would not want to move up if they have the ability to do so. Look at what (head coach) Dino (Campopiano) did at Shea. When he took over Shea (in 1996), Shea was in Division III, and over time, they became a Division I program. Every program should want to do that.”