EAST PROVIDENCE — There’s no use in sugar-coating it. At 0-4 overall and 0-2 in Division I, the East Providence High School football team is off to a rough start this fall.
The Townies’ latest setback came in a D-I outing last weekend, 35-15 to host Barrington. As has been the case to date in 2012, East Providence committed too many miscues and didn’t make enough plays to keep the contest within reach.
“I was very disappointed in the lack of energy with played with,” said EPHS head coach Sandy Gorham. “I thought having scrimmaged against Barrington in the preseason and having been fairly competitive, we would come out with a lot of energy. But we didn’t.
“We had played Foxboro and Hendricken before, and there’s no doubt we were overmatched talent-wise, which is one of the reasons why I was disappointed in our effort against Barrington because I thought we matched up well against them. I think we match up well over the next four to six weeks actually, but we’ll have to see how that goes.”
Next up for the Townies, who lost to Hendricken 42-13 in their other league game to date, is a meeting at home Friday night, Oct. 5, against Cranston East. The Thunderbolts come to Pierce Stadium for the 7 o’clock kick sporting a perfect 4-0 overall record and are 2-0 in D-I play. East defeated Barrington, 41-18, and league newcomer Tolman, 21-13.
“We didn’t get off the blocks well at the line and we made some foolish mistakes in the secondary,” Gorham said, still referring to the Barrington loss. “We’ve shown the tendency to give up the big play on defense and that could be an ominous sign against Cranston East.”
The Thunderbolts entered the fall considered in the same breathe as defending state champ Hendricken at the top of the preseason D-I rankings behind only favorite LaSalle. East has shown little reason to change that opinion, playing well in both of its league wins while dominating lesser lights Toll Gate and Central Falls.
The Townies, by contrast, have done some good things in their four games, but haven’t yet been anywhere near as consistent as they need to be to compete with some of the better teams in the state.
“We’ve moved the ball fairly well on offense, but we’re making a lot of mistakes,” Gorham said. “Like I told the kids, the only way to sustain drives at the high school level, drives of eight to 12 plays where you move the chains and chew up the clock, is by not making mistakes. But we still have running backs hitting the wrong holes. Lineman are missing blocks. We’re getting called for silly penalties. The mistakes are mental and physical.”
Part of the reason for the Townies inconsistency is due in large part to their inexperience. East Providence entered this season with 19 new starters among the 22 position players combined on offense and defense. Of those, a handful are seniors who saw limited varsity minutes. The rest are underclassmen completely new to the rigors of the state’s top tier.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the kids still trying to get comfortable,” Gorham said. “They’re still playing tentative. They’re reacting instead of playing on instincts.”
Gorham conceded East Providence is also missing a bit of its former “swagger,” when the Townies knew they were good and went out and proved it each week.
“I think what we need is that first win,” the coach continued. “Once they know they can do it, maybe we can get this going.”
With well over half of the league season still remaining, the Townies haven’t given up on the idea of turning things around. Gorham said he’s trimmed his offensive playbook a bit in hopes of minimizing mistakes while maximizing his team’s efficiency. He also said the Townies’ will to succeed, among other aspects, must improve.
“When I look at our team I still see some pretty talented players in spots,” Gorham added. “We’re not going to lower our expectations. We’re going to coach the same way. I told the kids we’re still going to challenge them in practice. We’re still going to ride them hard.
“LaSalle, Cranston East, Hendricken, you would have to consider them at the top, then there are a whole bunch of us other guys who are going to battle it out for that fourth spot. Losing the Barrington game hurt, but I still think we can be one of those teams. But we have to start to get better here in a hurry.”