SRA tackles Tolman in opener

SRA tackles Tolman in opener

St. Raphael Academy’s Andrew Andella, #2, stretches out in his bid to intercept a pass that was intended for Tolman High’s Ryan Long during the opening half of last Friday night’s game at Pariseau Field, a 14-0 victory by the Saints. (Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)
SRA football team posts 14-0 victory in non-league showdown

PAWTUCKET – It was not the prettiest of games, especially in the turnover department, but the St. Raphael Academy football team struck first and managed to keep Tolman High off the board in posting a 14-0 non-league victory last Friday night in front of a big crowd at Pariseau Field.

“I’d rather take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day,” SRA head coach Mike Sassi said. “But we got a lot of work to do. It’s kind of the best thing for a coach when you get a ‘W’ and they’re not going to have fun in film tomorrow.”

The Saints are still working on their kicking, so they did not use a kicker; instead, they elected to go for it on their fourth downs and attempt two-point conversions on their touchdowns. Including not having a kicker, the Saints were also down junior running back Deandre Babbitt, who was out with an injury, but they hope to have him back this weekend, Sassi said.

“He’s also probably my best defensive player,” Sassi added. “He was a force last week at defensive end against Shea. When we lose a two-way starter like that, it cuts down. Now you have a (number) two (player) in there, and your three is a freshman or first-year player who has never played before.”

After turning the ball over on their first two possessions – on a fumble on their first play of the night and an interception a few minutes later – the Saints scored their first touchdown on a 48-yard run by sophomore Braxton Fontaine.

Despite the turnovers, the SRA defense kept Tolman in check, and on their third possession, the Saints started with the ball on their 36-yard line. After two running plays brought the ball to the Tolman 48, sophomore quarterback Devin O’Malley handed off to Fontaine, who made a nice break to the right and raced down the field for the touchdown that gave the Saints the 6-0 lead.

“Braxton’s got a lot of talent,” Sassi said. “He’s only a sophomore, and I think it’s going to be great for his confidence. He did a great job running the jet and he had an interception on defense. He’s a heck of a football player.”

The Saints’ other touchdown came on their second possession of the second quarter on a five-yard run by Pride Clark. They started the drive on the Tolman 40 and moved the ball down the field, thanks to the running of Will Ainsburg, who picked up a key first down on fourth-and-one, Andru Stephens, and Clark, as well as three completions by O’Malley.

“Pride Clark did a nice job stepping up for (Babbitt) in his place,” Sassi added. “He ended up cramping up late in the third quarter, and because of being banged up, we played our guard, Will Ainsburg, as our fullback. When you have 31 guys dressed and some of them are freshmen, you have to be creative.”

The Saints didn’t convert either one of their two-point conversions, but they ended up scoring two points on a safety in the third quarter. The Tigers were pinned deep in their end of the field, and on third down, there was a bad snap that got past Tolman quarterback Justin Klemanchuck and went into the end zone. The Saints tried to recover the ball for a touchdown, but they ended up with the safety.

Both SRA and Tolman will kick off their Division I seasons with crossover games on Friday at 7 p.m. The Saints will host Rogers at Pariseau Field, while the Tigers will hit the road to take on South Kingstown at the Curtis Corner Middle School.