East Bay Warriors win first Pop Warner title since 2012

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 11/20/23

It was a season for the history books for the East Bay Warriors Pop Warner football team, which included the first Rhode Island Southeastern Massachusetts (RISMA) Super Bowl victory in over a decade.

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East Bay Warriors win first Pop Warner title since 2012


It was a season for the history books for the East Bay Warriors Pop Warner football team, which included the first Rhode Island Southeastern Massachusetts (RISMA) Super Bowl victory in over a decade.

The team, which fields four competitive age groups (8U, 10U, 12U, and 14U), all qualified for the playoffs after a dominant season saw a combined 29-9 record among the squads. The 8U, 10U, and 14U all made it to the championship game on Nov. 5 at Cranston Stadium.

A first since 2012
The 14U team capped off an absolutely dominant year with their first RISMA Super Bowl victory since 2012, beating the Edgewood Eagles by a score of 16-14. They started the year on a streak of six straight shutout wins for by a combined score of 185-0.

They lost their first and only game in the last game of the season, which coach Mark Rhynard said was a blessing in disguise.

“It actually helped prepare us for the playoffs and refocused us,” he said
To advance to the title game, the Warriors first trounced their long-time rivals, the Dighton-Rehoboth Falcons, 30-0 in the semifinals. “We said the rivalry was going to get settled that day, and it was nice to be able to get that win and get over the hump and get into the Super Bowl,” Rhynard said.

Rhynard said this iteration of the Warriors had not ever beaten the Edgewood Eagles, but this squad had already shown they had something unique to any other year.

“This team has worked hard all year to get to this point,” said coach Chris Moniz. “Edgewood gave us a struggle on offense that we hadn't dealt with all season. But these kids were not going to be denied and found a way to win.”

The Warriors pulled out a 16-14 victory, buoyed by two successful kicks from Jake Mancieri (who was a perfect 6/6 during the playoff run), and after a title-sealing interception from Anderson Emard, the celebration began.

“This group of players have been together for a long time, and it’s very rare for a group of players to stay together that long. I think that was a huge factor,” he said. “It was really special to watch. I’ve never seen a team get along so well and really care about each other, and it was evident on the field; the way they had each other’s backs and the way they went out there and did their jobs together. To see the joy on their faces when they accomplished this was absolutely amazing.”

Tyler Rhynard earned Super Bowl MVP and amassed impressive stats of 575 all purpose yards and 9 touchdowns (four rushing and five receiving) during the regular season. In the playoffs, Rhynard took five rushes for 208 yards and three touchdowns, made two catches amounting to 130 yards and two touchdowns, returned a kickoff for 55 yards, made 24 tackles, and recovered a fumble.

For Rhynard and the rest of the coaching staff, seeing the team reach the peak and celebrate together was a moment they wouldn’t forget.

“This is a special group of veterans and first year players who have jelled into a close knit group and have become a band of brothers,” said head coach Nick Rocha. “They play for each other in ways I have not seen in my 16 years of coaching.”

“The coaches, we were guiding them, but we were really also spectators watching something spectacular, watching a group of kids bond together and fight together and accomplish every single goal they set out to accomplish as a group,” Rhynard said. “I’ve been coaching this team for 25 years, 25 seasons, and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Although they lost to the Dorchester Eagles (the reigning national champions) in the first round of the New England Regional Playoffs, Rhynard said that there was no doubt the team saw the year as a total success.

“It was a dream come true just being there,” he said.

East Bay football is on the rise
While the 14U team was the only Warriors squad to get to the top of the mountain, three other teams reached high levels of success during the 2023 season.

The 8U team shut out the Dartmouth Indians 30-0 in the quarterfinals, and won in overtime in a thriller against the Edgewood Eagles 13-7 in the semifinals. Unfortunately they lost a heartbreaker, 7-6, in the Super Bowl to the New Bedford Bears.

The 10U team streaked by the Dighton Rehoboth Falcons 19-0 in the semifinals, but lost in the Super Bowl to the Edgewood Eagles by a score of 13-0.

The 12U Warriors had their comeback season ended in the quarterfinals, losing to Portsmouth 30-6.

“Overall our program went 5-3 in postseason play, with three teams reaching the finals, and bringing home one title at the 14U level,” said Kevin Ferreira.

Rhynard spoke about how the strength of each age group has resulted in high hopes for the future of the Warriors program.

“The organization itself has become a powerhouse in Rhode Island and southern Mass,” he said. “It’s taken about 12 years to get here, but Kevin Ferreira, Mike Oliver, Keith Tremblay, have done an outstanding job rebuilding the organization, and the coaches they’ve brought in at every level have been outstanding. We had the highest population of kids per team that we’ve ever had. So football is on the rise in the East Bay.”

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