Huskies’ warning to Eagles: ‘We feel good about our chances’

Teams prep for Thanksgiving Day rivalry game

Posted 11/23/22

Can the Barrington High School football team make it six in a row?

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, football fans across the East Bay may be wondering if the Eagles will continue their recent …

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Huskies’ warning to Eagles: ‘We feel good about our chances’

Teams prep for Thanksgiving Day rivalry game


Can the Barrington High School football team make it six in a row?

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, football fans across the East Bay may be wondering if the Eagles will continue their recent dominance over the Huskies.

Barrington coach Sandy Gorham said his team will be ready for the challenge.

 “We always look forward to playing Mt. Hope,” said Coach Gorham.  “You know they’ll be fired up as well.”

Kickoff at Mt. Hope’s Dietz Field is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving and as is the case every November when these two rivals hook up, the stands will be jumping with excitement.

The Eagles tuned up for its Turkey Day clash with the Huskies by pounding Mt. Pleasant, 35-20, on Nov. 10, which lifted their overall record to 5-4. The Eagles just missed qualifying for the Division II playoffs; four teams finished with a 3-3 record, with only two playoff spots available and after a tiebreaker Barrington found itself on the outside looking in. 

Injuries played a key role in the Eagles’ season — Barrington lost nine players to season-ending injuries this year. However, that did not stop the Eagles from playing consistent football for a majority of the campaign, Coach Gorham said. 

“We put a lot of young kids in there, and they beat some pretty good teams like Woonsocket and Mt. Pleasant,” said the coach. Barrington also defeated Westerly, Burrillville and Cranston East. “We’ve been competitive throughout the season.”

Leading the way for the Eagles is quarterback Alex McClelland. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior has shown a great deal of athleticism this year, Coach Gorham said.

“He’s done an outstanding job for us,” said Coach Gorham, “and he’s made some good decisions running the offense.”

Senior fullback Payton Murphy has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season and hopes to add to that total against the Huskies.

“He’s done a great job for us,” said the coach, “and he’s made the most of his opportunity. Our offense has been good all season.”

Statistically, Barrington’s offense had been stellar, averaging 32 point per game. And a lot it has to do with the offensive line leadership being provided by senior guards and co-captains Tom Marvelli and Dan Lemos. 

Lemos also plays middle linebacker, has taken plenty of reps at d-line, and was the team’s leading tackler this season. Junior standout A.J. DiOrio showed his versatility as a running back and defensive specialist.

“He’s undersized but tough,” Gorham said, “and reads the plays well.” 

The same holds true for junior strong safety Mitchell Ivatts. After missing the start of the season with an injury, Ivatts returned to make an instant impact at safety and slot receiver. 

Barrington has dominated the Thanksgiving Day game rivalry since the series began in 1993. Barrington comes into this year’s game with a commanding 19-9 lead, including five straight victories, and 19 of the last 22 since the year 2000.

But, as any smart football coach will admit, in rivalries like this one, people can throw the records out the window.

“As usual, this will be an emotional game for both teams,” said Coach Gorham. “For our kids, this will be the last game ever for the seniors. You know our team will be ready for the challenge.”

Mt. Hope High School football fans have their fingers crossed that the Huskies can finally put an end to a five-game losing streak.

“We have to continue to control the ball,” said Huskies’ head coach T.J. DelSanto.

“This is a special game for all of us,” Coach DelSanto added

Led by the incomparable Brock Pacheco, an outstanding senior running back/linebacker, the Huskies feel they can do some damage against Barrington this year. Pacheco was among the state leaders in rushing this season, with almost 2,000 yards to his credit. He’s the all-time leader in rushing at Mt. Hope, and is coming off a sensational 240-yard, 4-TD performance against West Warwick.

“He’s also our second leading tackler on defense,” said the coach. “He’s had quite a career.”

Senior running back/ linebacker Ben Calouro serves as one of the team captains and has been a great asset to the club.

“He’s been a real leader for us on both sides of the ball, and he’s probably our best athlete on the team,” Coach DelSanto said.

Junior James Thibaudeau also bears watching. A two-way star at running back and linebacker, Thibaudeau has been the Huskies’ best linebacker and leading tackler. Lineman Mesiah Lastra, a senior, has been a solid and consistent presence on the offensive line, while sophomore starting center Colin Maloney, also excels along the defensive line.

“He’s very smart,” said Coach DelSanto. “He and Mesiah hold down our offensive line.”

In junior quarterback Riley Howland, Mt. Hope has a player they can count on in any situation.

“He’s done a great job for us managing the team and keeping the offense focused,” said the coach. “He’s very level-headed and not emotional.”

Sitting back and pondering some of his upcoming strategy, T.J. DelSanto said he likes his team’s chances against the Eagles this year.

“We feel good about our chances,” he said. “We’re young with eight freshmen and sophomore starters, but our kids are very coachable. Physically, they’re tough and they never quit.”

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