Rhode Island high school football is back as COVID protocols fade

Summer vacation is over. It’s time to get to work.

Sunday is the day before high school football. While most – if not all – teams have held informal training sessions or participated in passing leagues, Monday marks the first day they can officially train as a team. It won’t take long for programs to hold fully padded practices. The games will follow even faster.

It’s a bittersweet time for me. If we classified the seasons like a football poll, summer is unanimously number 1 and it’s always sad to see it go. I love getting out of the adrenaline-charged late spring and jumping straight into relaxation mode, recharging my batteries for another exciting year of high school sports.

This school sports year is sure to be different, mostly because it’s the first season that will have some semblance of normality since – ready for it – fall 2019. It’s crazy to think about. We completed the 2019 fall season and nearly completed the 2019-2020 winter season before COVID hit.

At the college level:University of Rhode Island football ranked 3rd in league preseason poll

In this early fall, it’s behind us. It’s refreshing and it would be nice to have a season where we don’t have to think about masks or testing or staying six feet apart.

I’m excited about this. I’m glad I don’t have to constantly think about how COVID could affect anything and everything. I am ready to cover the matches.

And that’s what we’re going to do.

The 2021-22 season has been a great success. Interest in high school sports has never been higher and people are hungry for content. The Providence Journal responded in a way it had never done before. There was an abundance of game covers, features, and stories that found eyeballs in a way that exceeded expectations.

Readers bought into the idea. It was one of the craziest years of my professional life and now the goal is to be bigger and even better this fall.

Earlier this summer:Hazing allegations halt football activities at North Smithfield High School

You can expect the same intensity and passion in our football coverage, starting Monday with the top 10 stories as the autumn season approaches. On Friday night, I’ll be on the sidelines somewhere to cover a game. I will also be at the games on Saturday.

My Top-20 Power Poll will be released every Tuesday morning before the RI Sports Media Top 20 poll is released that afternoon. It’s been pushed back a day, but for good reason.

Last year, I picked our top five performances of the week and gave them to you in order. This year it will be different, as our new football feature will allow you, the readers, to vote for who should be named player of the week.

On Monday I will post the five nominees and why they were chosen. A poll will be posted and readers will vote. We will announce the winner on Thursday or Friday morning. Voting will be for Journal subscribers only, as I close all my social media posts, subscribe, subscribe, subscribe.

My weekly picks column will also return. We’ll also have plenty of football features in the coming weeks, including full breakdowns of every team and every division and we’ll be naming our 2022 Providence Journal Preseason All-State Football Team, which is expected to be released on opening night.

Giants 23, Patriots 21:Three takeaways from the Pats’ preseason opener

If you’re wondering about other sports, stop.

Our Monday-Thursday game coverage will focus on other fall sports. We also plan to include a reader-voted Athlete of the Week feature.

We’ll cover fall sports with an overview of each sport, as well as a list of athletes you’ll want to watch in their respective sports this fall.

Our focus this fall is no different than the teams taking the field. We want to be better than last year and, for that, we will try to be better than the day before. You’ll find plenty of content on the Providence Journal website and there will be plenty of additional content on social media as well.

I’m excited for all of this. I’m excited to get back to work covering the state’s athletes, seeing games, meeting new people, and doing whatever comes with it. Monday I will be ready to start.

But first, I’m going to enjoy every ounce of summer and free time I have before things get really crazy.

La Salle quarterback Dean Varrecchione, shown watching a game from the sidelines last season, announced last week that he had committed to Robert Morris University.

All-State QB makes college pick

Dean Varrecchione, La Salle’s All-State quarterback, made his college pick last week and it’s no surprise the southpaw is heading to a Division I program after graduating next spring. .

On Wednesday, Varrecchione took to Twitter to announce that he had verbally committed to Robert Morris University, a championship football subdivision program that recently joined the Deep South – the same conference in which the University Bryant plays.

It’s the first domino to fall in what should be a big recruiting year for Rhode Island high school football’s senior class. Varrecchione’s teammates Jamezell Lassiter and Justin Denson have Division I offers, as do St. Raphael’s Moses Meus and Cumberland’s Patrick Conserve.

North Kingstown's Connor Froberg has decided he will play football at URI next year.

Skippers football star commits

North Kingstown’s Connor Froberg, a two-time Providence Journal first-team All-State selection, also made his college choice official.

On August 5, Froberg announced that he intended to attend and play football next fall at the University of Rhode Island. Seeing Froberg stay local wasn’t much of a surprise. His uncle Kyle coached at URI before taking the principal’s job at Rhode Island College.

Hendriken wide receiver Brandyn Durand tries to make a home play in a game last season.  Last week, Durand announced he would play at Chipola College instead of Kentucky next season.

Durand finds a new home

Brandyn Durand, Hendriken’s tri-sport star, made a surprise announcement on social media last week.

Durand had signed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky, but on Tuesday he posted on Instagram that he had opted out of the program and would play baseball for Chipola College, a JUCO program in Florida.

No reason was given but the transfer portal may have played a part in the decision.

In June, Kentucky signed Hayden McGeary, who had played for Division II Colorado Mesa University the previous three seasons. McGeary’s numbers in the spring at CMU were impressive — a .481 batting average, 1.061 OPS, 35 home runs and 79 RBIs.

The move to Chipola gives Durand an opportunity for more playing time and a chance to pitch to bigger programs and pro scouts. In addition, Durand can be drafted each of the next two seasons, whereas if he stayed in Kentucky, he would have to wait until the end of his junior season.

About Rachel Gooch

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