Above: Kevin Licciardi gaining yardage against US Coast Guard Academy.
It is hard to explain to kids who are high school stars that when they go to college to play football, that they may be sitting on the bench for a couple of years before they get a chance to break into the starting lineup.
Even D3 has improved in their on field performances, and surprisingly many of those small schools have rosters of 100 or more. The new player has to outperform boys who, as seniors, are three, four, or five years older. On the D1 level, unless you’re a Barry Sanders or a Prime Time, a player could sit for three years before he even sees the field, if that. Some boys don’t make it til their senior or post senior year, and some, not at all.
KEVIN LICCIARDI, former East Greenwich Avenger standout, knows what the process is like. He chose Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and had to go through the trials that cause many a player to give up football. Kevin has stayed the course and now it is paying off for him.
Surprisingly his first breakout game came against Endicott University, which has his brother, MATTHEW LICCIARDI, on the roster. Matthew, a sophomore, is going through his trials as a 5-11, 200 lb. sophomore linebacker. Undoubtedly his time will also come.
In that game versus the Power Gulls, Kevin carried 12 times for 58 yards, a 4.8 yards per carry average and scored one TD in CU’s victorious effort. That performance surely caught the eye of Kevin’s coaches who most likely took note of that performance and penciled him in for more playing time.
In a recent game against the United States Coast Guard Academy Kevin really exploded carrying the pigskin 13 times for 148 yards and 1 TD, with a long run of 61 yards and an 11.4 yards per carry average! He got his chance and broke out. Now he is breaking into the lineup and, most likely, will be seeing more time in the future.
MATT SYLVIA, another EGHS grad, is in his last year at Salve Regina. His breakout year came his sophomore campaign, when he had eight interceptions and gathered in All Commonwealth Conference first team status, All New England and All East (3rd team). His junior year teams avoided throwing in his area but he still managed three interceptions and again made All Conference first team. Rumor has it Matt wants to try the next level, and with there now being eight professional leagues, he may have a chance to land at one. Nick Giorgio, who played for D3 Springfield, is making his mark for the Orland Predators of the Arena League, while Momodou Mbye (URI) starts for the Green Bay Blizzard of the Indoor League. Giorgio was a Providence Gridiron Club Pride of Rhode Island Award winner, and Mbye, like Matt, won the Club’s Home State Hero Award.
There are also 200 professional football teams in Europe, which presents another interesting possibility. Former EGHS All Stater, TOM WORT (Oklahoma U, Tennessee Titans) played for the Milan Rhinos (Italy), and his brother has played over there for eight years. Must be something to be playing for pizza. Players usually get a salary, a car, an apartment, and two days off a week to sightsee.
CARL GREENE (EG-Bishop Hendricken) started off at URI then transferred to Cortland State (N.Y.). Cortland is a D3 college BUT their program, facilities and approach are D1 as is their arch-rival, Ithaca College. A couple of years ago they played their annual rivalry game at Yankee Stadium in front of 40,000 people. Carl, a sophomore, started the season as a fill-in special-teams player, but when he got his chance, he scooped up a blocked punt and took it in for a TD, thus cementing his chance for more playing time. He has since scored again on an interception and it looks like he has a happy and productive three years in front of him.
This column is looking for information on NOLAN COONEY. The EGHS grad, who overcame testicular cancer and went on the be an award-winning kicker-punter-holder at ACC Syracuse University, signing as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints. He lost his bid to break the lineup with that NFL team but teams are always looking for talent and hopefully he has landed somewhere. The question is where? If anyone knows please contact:[email protected]
On a related note MAX MCCALL, grandson of Norm and Elaine James of East Greenwich, and son of Debbie James McCall and nephew of former EG standout RB, Curt James, is a member of the Washington University (St. Louis) football program. Max, a four-year standout at John Hersey High of Arlington Heights, Ill., is a linebacker, outstanding kicker and standout baseball player. It was originally thought he would be headed for a Big 10 school. He settled on Wash U. and is happy there but experiencing the same things that Kevin Licciardi, his brother, Carl Greene and others went through. Eventually his talent will shine through and maybe you will hear about him again.
* This release is brought to you free of charge courtesy of The Brooker Sports Initiative. Send any football information you have pertaining to EGHS grads playing football at any of the next levels to the email address mentioned above.