Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 09-05-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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Cumberland Lincoln Edition Sports & Recreation valleybreeze.com @ SEPTEMBER 5-11, 2019 Clippers try to fill in the blanks Young football team enters Div. I-A season with several spots up for grabs By ERIC BENEVIDES Valley Breeze Sports Editor sports@valleybreeze.com CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland High football team might have picked the wrong season to field one of its youngest, most inexperi- enced teams in quite some time. While almost every team in the Division I-A ranks is returning a large number of starters, the Clippers are heading into this year with just four returning starters and a lot of players who have yet to see their first snap in a varsity game. And after two weeks of the preseason were in the books, Cumberland head coach Josh Lima reported on Monday morning that several starting spots on both sides of the ball were still up for grabs. "We really don't know what we're rolling out until that day," Lima said before his squad hit the field for its practice behind the school. "We definitely have a young, inexperienced group, but they have really taking to coaching and listening, and that's been a positive." "I think that this group we have paid really good atten- tion to everything last year, and our junior varsity team was really good – I think we had three or four weeks of consecutive shutouts. So far, we're happy with the way that they're working and stuff like that, so I think we're going to be alright." While graduation wiped out what was one of Lima's biggest senior classes in his past five seasons at the helm, this year's senior class could be one of his smallest, with just 10 on a team with "right around 80 guys. Ninety percent of the guys that are probably going to be on the field will be juniors and soph- omores," Lima added. Senior Dante Aviles-Santos, who was the Clippers' top receiver last season, is this fall's quarterback, and he's seen some quality time behind center during the past two years. During that time, he completed 26 of his 49 passes for 452 yards and five touchdowns and just one interception. "He'll step in and be fine," said Lima. "He's had a good preseason already. He's a good athlete; he loves the game and he knows the game really well." On the offensive line, "we have some guys who got some varsity snaps last sea- son," reported Lima, "but we have a handful of guys who are still in positional battles. We're not solidified yet." One player who saw some varsity action, junior Adam Barboza, "has been playing really well and is probably the one guy who has solidi- fied a spot," said Lima. After that, the battles have continued for seniors Sean Toure, Eddie Inscoe, and Julian Brooks, junior Oswaldo Aldana, sophomore Dylan Powers, and freshman Patrick Conserve. In the backfield, seniors Johnell Hill and Isaiah Cole figure to take their share of handoffs, and in the wide receiver department, the Clippers currently have a rotation of senior co-captain Shane Meerbot, juniors Ryan Larson and Sam Soria, and sophomore Jaden Pimentel. The team's tight ends are junior co-captain Emmanuel Ireland and sophomore Jack Proctor. On defense, the secondary features two returning start- BREEZE PHOTOS BY ERIC BENEVIDES Left, Cumberland senior X'AVIER JOHNSON, who was one of the Clippers' top cornerbacks last season, stretches out before his team's practice on Monday morning behind the high school. Right, Cumberland senior DANTE AVILES-SANTOS tackles a bag during a defen- sive drill. Aviles-Santos, who was the Clippers' leading receiver last season, will be this year's starting quarterback. 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