portsmouth vs bishop hendricken
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The 2022 high school football season isn’t even a month old, yet there’s no question that Bishop Hendricken and Portsmouth have learned plenty about themselves thanks to the caliber of their opponents to date.

The four-time defending state champion Hawks opened the season with two out-of-state contests before going on the road last week and grinding out a 28-21 win over North Kingstown. At 2-1 overall and 1-0 in Division I, Hendricken head coach Keith Croft concedes that he’s cautiously optimistic based off the strides he’s seen from a group that is breaking in newcomers at several key positions.

“Playing some really good teams has helped make us better,” said Croft.

Portsmouth’s first game was against the same North Kingstown program that came close to handing Hendricken a rare in-state loss. The Patriots rebounded from a shutout defeat to the Skippers with a 26-10 win over Westerly in last week’s Division II opener. Like the Bulldogs, the Patriots were viewed as an upper echelon team in the division heading into the season.

“We’ve got a good group of kids,” noted Portsmouth head coach Dustin Almeida.

Watch Rhode Island high school football: Bishop Hendricken vs Portsmouth – Friday, September 23 at 7:00 pm ET on YurView NE (Cox channel 4) and streaming for FREE at watch.yurview.com.

Turn on the lights for Friday night non-league game in Warwick that kicks off at 7 o’clock. Who should fans (and YurView viewers) keep an eye on regarding Hendricken and Portsmouth? Ask and you shall receive. Below is a checklist to help you get game ready. Let’s begin with the away team.

When Portsmouth Passes:

It’s been a week of regrouping after the Patriots learned the fate of senior Luke Brennan. The starting quarterback heading into the season and also a captain, Brennan suffered a season-ending injury in the victory over Westerly.

Stepping into the QB breach is senior Neal Tullson. Coming off a three-touchdown game against those same Bulldogs, Tullson has been shifted from tailback with the understanding that some time will be needed to grasp the packages concerning Portsmouth’s passing attack.

“He’s a mentally tough kid,” said Almeida about his new signal caller, “but the game plan has to change a little bit when you lose your guy [meaning Brennan].”

Tullson’s twin brother Evan came on as a wide receiver last season and will serve as Portsmouth’s go-to option. A junior, Tyler Hurd is the younger brother of former Portsmouth football standout Ben Hurd. At 6-foot-4, Tyler is a bit taller than his brother and will see time at either tight end or fullback.

When Portsmouth Runs:

Senior Dylan Brandariz slides into the starting role but expect his classmate Carson Conheeny to receive his fair share of handoffs. Playing the role of slot back will be senior Shane Harvey and John Voute.

When Portsmouth is on Defense:

A senior who happens to be the son of the head coach, Hunter Almeida lines up at middle linebacker. In many ways, he’s the glue that holds the Patriots together.

Two players who line up close the line of scrimmage who Coach Almeida holds in high regard are seniors Trey Delemos and Parker Daigle.

“Those guys have been bringing it at a high level,” said Almeida.

Losing Brennen also meant the Patriots are now short an important member of the secondary.

When Portsmouth is on Special Teams:

The Patriots are breaking in a new kicker with Evan Rodrigues – also a linebacker and offensive guard – handling the punting, point-after tries, and field-goal attempts. Neal Tullson and Conheeny are the choices to receive kickoffs and return punts.

When Hendricken Passes:

The Hawks staged a quarterback competition over the summer with junior Jayden Falcone impressing the coaching staff with his work ethic and leadership. Named a captain, Falcone has moved nowhere but up since being handed the QB controls.

“He’s got the intangibles that you want in a football player,” said Croft about Falcone.

Senior Devin Lynch along with classmate Anthony Manna and junior Nathan Rivas are the top targets in the passing attack. Lynch has emerged as the Hawks’ go-to possession receiver while junior Joel Felix is an option to line up in the slot.

“It’s a hardworking group,” said Croft about his receiving unit.

Cox Business

When Hendricken Runs:

Running behind an offensive line that’s anchored by senior center Alex Morin will be juniors Oscar Weah and Ronjai Francis. Falcone is also capable of making plays with his feet while Croft is excited about the down-the-road potential of junior Josiah Dennis and freshman Jeremy Seidi.

When Hendricken is on Defense:

After helping fill a need on the offensive line last season, junior Rushaune Vilane has been turned loose as multi-faceted option at D-line and linebacker. The linebacking unit also features familiar faces in Weah and seniors Jason Pilderian and Jawin Bodden.

The makeup of the secondary includes Felix, senior Noah West and two sophomores in Benjamin Brooks and Mike DaSilva.

When Hendricken is on Special Teams:

Junior Charles Kretzer handles the PAT and field goals while DaSilva is the punter and an option to return kickoffs. Either Felix or Manna will be back to field punts.

Brendan McGair is a sportswriter and columnist with the Pawtucket Times and the Woonsocket Call. A graduate of Providence College, McGair is a five-time recipient of the R.I. Sports Writer of the Year Award as voted by the National Sports Media Association (NSMA).

Follow McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03 and on Instagram @bwmcgair.

Watch Rhode Island high school football: Bishop Hendricken vs Portsmouth – Friday, September 23 at 7:00 pm ET on YurView NE (Cox channel 4) and streaming for FREE at watch.yurview.com.