EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School football team defeated LaSalle Academy, 41-0, in the 89th edition of their annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry played November 23 at Pierce Memorial Stadium.
Juan Diaz scored three touchdowns on the ground (20, 50 and 30 yards) for the host Townies while Jaren Alves (42 yards) and Justin Pena (50 yards) each scored defensive touchdowns for the locals on pick-six interception returns. Zeke Tavares accounted for the other E.P. touchdown on a short rush (4 yards). Nick Oliveira kicked five extra points.
For East Providence, its 2017 season comes to a close with a 4-6 overall record. E.P. went 2-5 during the Division I regular season and failed to qualify for the playoffs. The Townies' win cut the Rams' overall advantage in the series to 50-37-2.
LaSalle (9-3 overall), which meets Hendricken for the state championship on December 2, played Thanksgiving without any of its 22 first-string regulars (11 on offense, 11 on defense), a decision Rams’ head coach Geoff Marcone said was made partly out of necessity and some common sense on his part.
“The last two years we’ve played our starters at least a quarter, but this year we’re more banged up than we’ve been in the past,” Marcone explained. “I didn’t think it was in the best interest of our team to possibly lose those guys to injury in this game when we have the state championship game coming up. And we’re also not as deep as we’ve been in the past, so that played into my decision as well.”
“We played a physical game last Friday night (November 17) against a very good Portsmouth team,” Marcone added of the Rams’ victory over the Patriots in the playoff semifinals. “You don’t practice the next day and you don’t want to practice on Sunday, so that left us with three days to prepare for Thanksgiving. We tried to get our younger guys ready for East Providence, showed them their tendencies and hoped we could get some things done. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.”
LaSalle has played and lost to Hendricken in the Division I Super Bowl the previous three seasons. The Hawks are seeking to add an eighth title to their record run of seven consecutive championships when they face the Rams at Cranston Stadium at noon Saturday. Hendricken defeated LaSalle, 21-7, in a meeting earlier this fall played September 15.
“We feel we have a chance every year when we play them,” Marcone said of the Super Bowl contest. “If we can stay healthy during the week and in the game, I feel good about this team.”