BY CHARLIE ADAMS, TSM LEAD WRITER
(Cranston, R.I.) - Cranston Stadium’s bright lights were back shining on the ‘Bolts this Friday as Cranston East’s football team returned to action for their 2023 season debut. The Thunderbolts faced off against the defending Division III Super Bowl Champion, the Moses Brown Quakers, for their two-quarter Injury Fund preseason game. It was a strong performance for the Quakers, shutting out the ‘Bolts by a score of 13--0.
The result was somewhat to be expected if you had looked at the “tale of the tape” prior to the game. The Quakers were coming off of an undefeated season that culminated in that Division Three championship, against the Thunderbolts who have been searching for their first league win since November of 2018. Looking at it from that perspective, what transpired on the field was somewhat better than what should have been expected.
Da’Qwon Foster wasn’t under center for the first time in years. With Foster now attending Dean College and converting to a wide receiver, Jayden Chagnon took his place as “QB1”. With the major shakeup, the offense didn’t seem to be able to get much started and were forced to punt before turning the ball over on downs in their next two drives.
After forcing Cranston East to punt, the Quakers carried a methodical drive down the field through a controlled passing game featuring quarterback Luke Pocaro and wide receiver Mason Tokoraz. The series culminated in Moses Brown’s star running back Myles Craddock punching it in for a rushing touchdown from six yards. Alesandro Duffy-Matos blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the ‘Bolts with a 6-0 deficit.
In the Quakers next drive, Craddock continued to show why he is such a highly touted prospect with D-1 college potential, making explosive rushes through broken tackles and setting strong blocks on pass attempts. Despite Moses Brown receiving multiple penalties, Craddock converted on a 4th and 5 rushing attempt to keep their drive alive in Thunderbolts’ territory. The Quakers capitalized as quarterback Luke Porcaro connected with Tokoraz again, this time for a 25-yard touchdown. After the extra point, Cranston East trailed 13-0.
In the middle of the second and final quarter, the Thunderbolts seemed to be getting something going on offense. They connected on their biggest play of the game, a receiver screen to freshman Armand Northup-Reed, only for it to be called back due to holding. The ‘Bolts were forced to punt again, and continued to have trouble getting into the red zone.
Both teams tossed in their second stringers as the second quarter started winding down, but the Quakers still moved the chains with ease. On the final play of the game, Cranston East forced their first turnover on downs of the game.
While showing some positive signs, especially with a roster filled with freshmen and sophomores, the 2023 ‘Bolts football team felt familiar to their predecessor, with a struggling offense and difficulties in run and pass defense at crucial times. Cranston East will try again to put some points on the board this Friday when they travel to Conley Stadium to face Mt. Pleasant at 6:00 pm.
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