Several former Bishop Hendricken standouts are making their presence felt on gridirons across the country, from D1 to the NFL.
KWITY PAYE, who starred at Michigan and was taken by the NFL had a productive 2023 season for the Colts, who just missed making the playoffs, finishing 9-8 after a loss to the Houston Texans. Paye, an edge rusher or DT at 6-3 265 lbs, had 31 solo tackles, 8.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
JASON ONYE still has a couple of years left at Notre Dame. The 6-5 294 lb defensive lineman played in all 13 of the Irish team’s games as a swing DL, on field goal block, and special teams. He ended up with 17 tackles, 11 solo. He had 1/2 tackle for loss, 1/2 sack, 2 QB hurries and blocked two field goal attempts, one of which resulted in an Irish touchdown. More will be expected of him next year as he inherits his position as the top man for the job.
XAVIER TRUSS is at Georgia just finishing up his senior season. It is unknown at this time whether he will be coming back for another year. He has had quite a career there. The 6’7″ 320 lb offensive tackle has made second team All Southeastern Conference. Xavier also made the Pre-season All SEC team. He started 12 games this year out of 13. He made 43 starts for the Dawgs and played in two Bowl Games, the CFP title games (2x), and playoffs, which saw the Red & Black take two National Championships. He could go as early as the fourth round in the NFL draft, but lately it was said he may return to try and help UGA get another National title.
ANTHONY WITHERSPOON (Merrimack) made the preseason roster for the Kansas City Chiefs, but sustained an injury that put him on injured reserve. He is currently rehabbing in Rhode Island and hopes to return next year and get a shot at making the Chiefs roster.
JAKE PICARD was named to both the CAA Academic All League and Athletic Director’s Honor Roll, while playing in all 13 games for the Villanova Wildcats, starting at center. ‘Nova advanced in the FCS playoffs before being bumped by defending champion South Dakota State. The 6-4 305lb Hendricken alum is only a Junior and has at least one more year, maybe two, in Philly.
The Providence Gridiron Club will be holding their Hall of Fame Night and Brunch in February. The Brunch is Feb. 18, starting at 10 a.m. at the Rhode Island Country Club. Former HOF members are encouraged to attend along with family and friends. It is a nice time to introduce the new members and the RICC is a beautiful setting overlooking the bay.
Then on Wednesday, Feb. 21, there will be a Hall of Fame dinner at the Quonset ‘O’ Club in North Kingstown starting at 7 p.m.
This year’s honorees are Don Brown, former SK and URI star player; Jayar Santos, who worked to better the inner-city youth in football through his coaching and clinics; Jack Oscarson, long-time Rhode Island football official; Chris Branch, legendary Smithfield High football coach; Gerard Marzilli, a member of Providence College’s successful Club grid squads and longtime assistant coach at several high schools; Mike Traficante, the athletic director for the city of Cranston; and, the 1973 URI football team, which was the first U.S. college team to play in Europe, when they squared off against the USAF All Star team in the Turkey Bowl.
Fans, Family and Friends are asked to contact PGC Club President Bob Izzi to get tickets for these events. He can be reached at 401-378-4393 or [email protected]. The club had more than 300 at its last two dinners so make your reservations early.
THOMAZ WHITFORD, from one of the smallest high schools in Rhode Island, Narragansett, started in all 15 games for New Mexico State. He was used mostly as a blocker. He did, however, manage to make 11 catches for 119 yards and 2 TD’s for the Aggies, who finished 10-5. His team spanked SEC foe Auburn 31-10 despite being 29-point underdogs. However NMSU lost their conference title game to Liberty and then got steamrolled in the New Mexico Bowl by Fresno State. Whitford, at 6-4 250 lbs, could get a pro look. If not NFL then maybe with the newly formed United Football League (a joining of the XFL & USFL teams).
Saw KEN YEBOAH on TV earlier this month for the Jets against our Pats. He was #88 at tight end. He was mostly used as a blocker. He got his introduction to football in the Providence Youth Football League, under PGC Hall of Fame, Chick Santos and his son Jayar Santos (recently diseased). He played high school ball out of state and then played at Ole Miss, but he credits his learning of the game to The 401. Like Whitford, he is used mostly as a blocker.
Congratulations to MYLES CRADDOCK. The Moses Brown superstar was recently named Gatorade Player of the Year for Rhode Island. The 6-1 195 lb Quaker running back with outstanding speed led Moses Brown to one title last year and might have made it two, except the fact that a hamstring pull caused him to miss a couple of games. The MB rocket still took off for over 1,500 rush yards. He has a preferred walk-on offer from Boston College of ACC and interest from several other schools, including Brown, but so far nothing definite. Puzzling.
Thirteen UMass-Dartmouth Corsairs made All Conference, seven of them from Rhode Island, led by All Everything QB DANTE AVILESSANCHEZ (Cumberland), an All New England and All Region honoree plus a Gold Helmet winner; ANGEL SANCHEZ (Hendricken),also a multi-award winner.
Burrillville High had two former stars on the All MASCAC list. Tackle BRENDAN DICHAIRO at tackle and KOLBY STOCKWELL at Guard; SAM ALICEA (BH)
was named at linebacker; 6-4 250 lb JAYLEN KOPECKY (Mt. Hope) was named at TE; and SHONE NEERBOTT, a DB from Cumberland, all garnered honors.
However all that firepower was negated in the NEW ENGLAND BOWL by Western New England and another Rhode Islander, CONRAD SWANSON (East Greenwich) who rallied the Golden Bears from a 7-2 deficit with his arm and legs, throwing for 147 yards on a 12-18 day and rushing for 100 yards and two TD’s as the Bears rallied in the last twenty minutes for a 37-7 victory.
SWANSON was big for the WNEU unit all year as he finished his senior year with 901 yards rushing in 9 games and 8 TD’s and 1164 yards passing on an 183 of 160 docket and 9 TD’s. The 6-1 190 pounder majored in Mechanical Engineering at WNEU.
Congrats to two URI players, graduates of RI High School football. MARQUIS BUCANAN (Classical) and GABE SLOAT (North Kingstown). Both received post-season honors from several sources including the CAA and Phil Steele Magazine. The same was true for THOMAZ WHITFORD (Narragansett) and XAVIER TRUSS (Bishop Hendricken, who played for New Mexico State and Georgia respectively.
As my old Friend, Harry (Chapin) used to say, all of life’s a circle. And, in RI that circle is small. The other day URI announced the signing of Clemson QB HUNTER HELMS, who backed up Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars) and DJ U.
But, small world, Hunter went to Gray Collegiate Academy in West Columbia, SC and was the QB, as a sophomore in my Grandson Duncan’s senior year. He is friendly with both my grandsons and we are taking him out to Iggy’s when he gets here. Have to show him the RI eats and treats. He’ll be blown away I am sure. Hunter stands 6-2 and 215 lbs. The latter might go up after a meal at Iggy’s.
What’s It All About, Nickname?
Minutemen of Lexington HS, Mass.; Presidents of Quincy, Mass.; Roughriders of Theodore Roosevelt HS in Chicago; Generals of George Washington HS in Los Angeles; Railsplitters of Lincoln HS, Ill.; The Abes of Lincoln HS in Tacoma, Wash.; Green Mountain Men of Ethan Allen HS in Wales, Wisc.; Continentals of Washington HS Indianapolis, Ind.; Gore Rangers of Vail, Colo.; Goldbacks in Newburgh, N.Y.; Yankees of Hamilton HS in Los Angeles; and Burrs of West Catholic HS in Philadelphia.
Once again the TBSI brought to you FREE of charge for all those interested in football at all levels in the state of Rhode Island. If you have any football news you would like to put out about your former players, players, program etc. Please drop me a note at [email protected]. I send them out to all the local news outlets that I know of and also to coaches, TV stations and others interested in football in the State of Rhode Island.
Yours in Football,
Bruce Mastracchio played football and bleeds football still.