PROVIDENCE – Opposition from the Interscholastic League gave Catholic Memorial two of its toughest tests during an undefeated 2021 season.
La Salle and Bishop Hendricken powered the Knights on their way to a Division 2 Super Bowl title in Massachusetts. A host of future FBS talent had a better time with King Philip at Gillette Stadium as the Knights clinched their first championship in more than four decades.
Friday night’s opening crack of the twin powerhouses of Rhode Island fell short at Cimini Stadium. The Rams trailed after the first two minutes and never found their rhythm in a 47-7 loss.
Jared Gibbons broke up a 9-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to help La Salle avoid a shutout. The clock was ticking down the second half with Catholic Memorial enjoying a 41-0 halftime lead.
“They could be the best team in New England,” La Salle coach Geoff Marcone said. “They have some very, very talented soccer players.”
Recruiters have certainly taken notice. Boston College has secured the commitments of running back/slot receiver Datrell Jones and wide receiver/defensive back Jaedn Skeete. Defensive end/tight end Boubacar Traore, the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Badara Traore, has committed to Notre Dame.
Those three players are the cream of the school’s class of 2023. The following graduation year in 2024 could provide even more exposure thanks to offensive tackle Guerby Lambert, a top 60 national recruit according to 247Sports. Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Auburn, Fighting Irish, Eagles and others are already vying for his services.
That’s the long way of saying the Rams were outplayed tonight, but it was the kind of proof they’re looking for in a non-league game. La Salle battled to a 35-22 victory over Staten Island Curtis last week, a team in the top 15 in New York State’s year-end standings in 2021. That’s the level of performance Marcone is looking to film for. his own players in hopes of attracting the attention of the university.
“For us, sometimes colleges don’t come down, we’re Rhode Island,” Marcone said. “We are small. But if we go play at these other schools and stand up for ourselves, maybe we’ll open some doors for our kids and open some eyes for the state of Rhode Island.
“To be honest, the state has very good soccer players. We’re trying to get more people to come to this state and for guys to take a look at the people we have here.”
The Rams were missing some of those potential targets in this one. Running back Jamezell Lassiter, wide receiver Justin Denson and wide receiver/defensive back Chase Gouvin weren’t dressed as they healed from undisclosed minor injuries. Tight end/linebacker Brady Fisher was hit hard on a kickoff return in the first quarter and didn’t return.
All of Catholic Memorial’s stars were on the field and made a difference in their season opener. Jones scored a pair of touchdown runs and FBS recruit Carson Harwood found the end zone running and receiving. JC Petrongolo threw a pair of touchdown passes as he settled into a second year under center.
“Big picture, I think this helps us a little bit,” Marcone said. “It is a humiliating experience. We discover what we are really made of to return.
“We can do one of two things: We can feel bad for ourselves and not be ready to play against a good Central team, or we can get ready to play and refocus and understand that we are better than we played.”
The Knights are one of three Division I games the Rams will play in 2022 — the realignment has left an exclusive group of four teams at the top of the state pyramid. La Salle faces three Division II opponents (South Kingstown, Shea, East Providence) and three others from out of state: St. John’s Prep in Massachusetts on Sept. 30 is the last of those games. That schedule flexibility has its pros and cons, and this was the most challenging side of the coin.
“We’ve been doing this for 15 years, playing different people, and we’re going to keep doing it,” Marcone said. “Continue to compete and try to improve.”
Catholic Memorial vs. La Salle football results, statistics
Catholic Memorial 21 20 7 0 — 47
La Salle 0 0 7 0 — 7
CM — Carson Harwood 6 runs (Garoid Stones kick)
CM — Mervens Amazan 20 pass from JC Petrongolo (Stones kick)
CM — Datrell Jones 5 runs (Stones kick)
CM — Jones 9 run (kick miss)
CM — Petrongolo Harwood 60 pass (Stones kick)
CM — David Timson 1 run (Aidan Rowley kick)
CM — Mekhi Dodd 75 career (run failure)
LS — Jared Gibbons 9 runs (Max Wallace kick)
On Twitter: @BillKoch25