Story and photo by: Christine Laudone
The sun was shining at Old Killingly High School as the Rhode Island Riptide and Green Valley Blackhawks entered the field before the Maritime Conference championship game on October 23.
It was not only the Riptide’s first championship, but also the end of its first season. When Dale Colprit, previously a Southern Connecticut Sting player, established the team in Westerly, R.I. he hoped to bring semi-pro football to a town that would enjoy it.
“Westerly has a huge football following so it only made sense to start [a team] here,” he said. Colprit took former Sting coaches Duane Pierson and Mark Baxley with him.
“I knew they were good coaches so if I brought them with me I was certain that would be a great start,” he said. It indeed was a great start, as was adding Darryl Sebastian and Ryan Milton to the coaching staff.
From day one it was established that this team would be like a family; they focused on working together and not trying to outdo one another. Players say that being part of the Riptide is about camaraderie; they worked hard to bring a championship not only to the town and state that they represent, but also to each other.
“Coaches Pierson, Baxley and other players deserve a championship for what they put into the team,” player Andrew Gervasini said. However, they still kept their home field and fans in mind.
“I just hope we pull it out and win it, it will give a lot of love to Westerly,” said lineman Mike Sawyer. That desire to win has kept some players up at night.
“I’m still dizzy after winning the first playoff game, I can’t remember much about the second playoff win and haven’t slept much thinking about [the championship,]” Colprit said.
The previously undefeated Blackhawks gave the Riptide two of its three losses this season.
“We have played [the Blackhawks] twice and both times we shot ourselves in the foot. We just need to work on finishing,” Sawyer said.
Players, coaches and fans gathered after the Riptide’s win for some final words from Coach Pierson, the awarding of MVP to Anthony Coppock, and photos with the trophy.
It was the perfect ending to the Riptide’s first season. After months of hard work, the team can now relax and know that they are champions.