Davies kicks off football program this fall

Davies kicks off football program this fall

School also plans to add girls’ volleyball, swimming during 2019-20 school year

LINCOLN – When Bob Morris became the athletic director at Davies Tech before the start of this school year, one of his first orders of business was to reach out to some of the students and ask them if there were any sports they wanted to see added to the Patriots’ sports curriculum.

A handful of ideas were thrown his way, but one sport seemed to resonate in his ears more than the others.

Football.

“All the boys wanted football,” Morris said. “Even the girls were mentioning football.”

A former football player at Shea High in the mid-1980s, their request was music to Morris’ ears. But financially, was it possible? Football is one of the most expensive high school sports. Could Davies afford to field a program?

It turns out that after doing some research with the school’s director, Adam Flynn-Tabloff, the answer is yes, Davies can – and this fall, will – hit the gridiron.

And the Patriots will do so as a varsity team in the RIIL’s Division IV circuit, with their first game expected to be a non-league contest against Scituate High, which they are also scheduled to face later in the season in league play.

Since getting the OK to bring football into the limelight, Morris, who is also the Patriots’ head softball coach and a substitute teacher at the school, has been on the go, not only getting ready to purchase equipment, but also doing his share of paperwork and other tasks that need to get done between now and by the time the Patriots roll out a team in time for their official mid-August workouts.

“This is exciting,” Morris (pictured) said in his office on Monday night, right before the boys’ basketball team was scheduled to host Mount Saint Charles Academy. “I’ve been getting phone calls everyday about football, and it’s good, because people are interested in it. I went to Staples the other day and some kid grabbed me with a Davies sweatshirt on. He was an alumnus from here and he said, ‘Thank God we’re going to have football!’ I ended up talking to him for 45 minutes.”

Morris, who has been employed at Davies for the past 13 years, spoke for a half hour not only about his school’s new football team, but also some of the other sports that the Patriots will begin in the 2019-20 school year. Competitive cheerleading and eSports made their debuts this winter, and girls’ volleyball will become a reality in the fall, as will swimming and a full wrestling squad in the winter – Davies currently has a wrestler, senior Fabian Vargas, competing independently at North Providence High's meets. And Morris also has his sights set on adding indoor and outdoor track and field into the mix.

“I want to give the kids what they want,” he admitted. “And they want more sports. Even coaching the baseball and softball teams and just being around everyone, they always wanted more sports. And the idea was, ‘What can I fit into the budget so I can give them what they want?’ I wanted to get a football team, but I didn’t know if it was possible, so that’s why I started with the smaller sports. I knew we could handle them.”

But could Davies handle football? And would the school be better off forming a co-op squad with another school that had a program that was low in numbers? Mount Pleasant had just 22 players in its program last year. Was there a possible match with the Kilties?

Morris took a head count of students who were interested in joining the team, and 47 students expressed their interest, most of them with experience playing in organized youth leagues. He had his answer.

“And we should have some (incoming) freshmen who will want to play football,” added Morris. “There’s a strong possibility we might have enough kids to form a J.V. team.”

But while the interest was alive, were the finances going to keep it flowing?

“I really didn’t think we were going to be able to do it right away,” answered Morris. “But I looked through budgets and checked to see what it would cost 40 to 50 kids – helmets, shoulder pads, everything. I went through places and got real quotes, and I worked it out and got a number.”

“And then I said, ‘Okay, now what do we need?’” added Morris. “I started looking at tackling sleds and blocking pads and all the little stuff and I added that (into the number). And then I talked to Mr. Flynn and I said, ‘I know this can’t be done right now. I know this isn’t an easy chunk of change, but is there any way we can work this out?”

Flynn-Tabloff and Morris then sat down “with a couple of the finance people upstairs and they were kind of amazed that the number, which was around $50,000, wasn’t that bad, but I guess no one had ever done the budget before,” said Morris. “I didn’t go berzerk, but I didn’t go low-low on anything or cut corners either.” As for the program’s insurance, “we’ll have to pay a little more premium but not an outrageous number,” added Morris.

Once “it all came together” and the school got the green light to begin its program, Morris quickly put the wheels into motion. He hopes to name a head coach and fill out the rest of the coaching staff by the end of the month. In terms of equipment, “we’re going to go over all of it,” he answered, “and start ordering helmets, getting some sizes, and fitting kids for stuff.”

When the winter turns into the spring, Morris hopes to have a lifting program in place for the players, and after that, “I think we’re going to do some clinics and hopefully send some of the kids to camp, as well as have a couple of fundraisers for the program, which no one has ever done before.”

As for where the Patriots will play their home games this fall, they might be playing one or two games at Bryant University, as well as some in Pawtucket, most likely at Shea High’s Max Read Field or nearby Pariseau Field.

“We’re new,” said Morris, who has been in touch with the Pawtucket Parks & Recreation Department about securing home games in the city. “I’m not looking for Friday night lights. We’ll go on Saturday afternoons, I don’t care. If we play in Pawtucket, that will be great because most of our kids are from Pawtucket.”

As for the girls’ volleyball program, Morris also hopes to have a head coach sometime next month. The Patriots will also compete in Division III.

“When I was asking the kids about sports, I was kind of surprised that girls’ volleyball also came back so big,” said Morris. “We have a lot of girls at this school who have played volleyball before, and some of them even played club. I never realized that. And there’s a good number of girls who want to play, which is nice.”

Davies Tech senior Fabian Vargas, top, has the upper hand on La Salle Academy's Zach Isabel during their 182-pound match on Wednesday night at North Providence High. Vargas needed just 30 seconds to pin his opponent. (Breeze photo by Eric Benevides)