La Salle vs. Hendricken Rivalry: Who Has The Upper Hand?
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Since the start of the 2010-2011 school year, the Hawks have claimed 13 state championships, 11 more than Rams boys teams. La Salle captured the 2011 soccer crown and the 2012 lacrosse title, but it fell to Hendricken in each of the past two Division I Super Bowls – both of which were considered upset wins for the Hawks.
Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that La Salle’s athletic program has taken great strides since the late 1990s.
“From the time of the merger in 1984-1985, when we went co-ed, to the past 12-13 years, La Salle went 14 years without winning anything,” said La Salle athletic director Ted Quigley, who assumed his post in 2000. “Then in  we finally won a boys basketball championship, in ’99 the girls won a [basketball] championship and then starting in 2000 we’ve won a lot.
“A lot of that has to do with facilities, the upgrade to the McLaughlin Athletic Center. I think we just got on a roll. The students who we’re attracting now aren’t just good athletes; they’re also tremendous students.”
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Some of those student-athletes Quigley mentioned will take their talents to new heights after leaving La Salle. Rams running back Josh Morris recently committed to Brown University following a senior season in which he amassed 1,422 rushing yards. Quarterback Anthony Francis, Rhode Island’s 2012-2013 Gatorade football player of the year, remains undecided on where he will play in 2013.
La Salle also boasts a pair of younger prospects who have already verbally committed to Division I schools in sophomore lacrosse attackman Joe Manown (Duke University) and hockey forward Bryan Lemos (Providence College), a junior who attends La Salle but now plays for the Boston Junior Bruins U18 team after spending two seasons with the Rams.
So while La Salle’s boys state championship total lags behind Hendricken’s, there is certainly a collection of Division I talent within Quigley’s program.
Hendricken’s senior class isn’t lacking for college prospects, either. Mike King, an ace pitcher, will play baseball at Boston College, and Alex Perreault, a lacrosse midfielder, is bound for Johns Hopkins.
The rivalry: Historically one-sided but rooted in respect
Hendricken athletic director Paul Alianiello didn’t dismiss La Salle’s athletic improvement over the past dozen years. But he did point to the big picture, which affirms his program’s place atop the Rhode Island high school sports hierarchy.
“If you look at the last 20 years, Hendricken’s won 150 Division I championships. La Salle’s probably won fewer than 15,” Alianiello said. “They certainly have a great program, and I think that in certain sports they’ve improved. I’d like to think our program is across-the-board strong. To have top-notch programs across the board is a testament to the way we do things.”
Though there’s no question that La Salle remains in pursuit of Hendricken athletically, Alianiello and Quigley agree that Hawks-Rams meetings are mutually beneficial and rooted in respect.
“I think it’s a special rivalry being that we both have real strong athletic tradition and are the two biggest Catholic schools in the state,” Alianiello said. “When we play La Salle, it’s always a little more special than playing our other rivals.”
Said Quigley, “For us, it’s a great rivalry. We want to play them here; they want to play us there. I don’t care what sport it is, it’s going to bring interest in. It’s going to get your students out. We play them in hockey; we play them in basketball; we play them in football – there’s a lot of interest there. You know they’re going to be good games, so it’s entertaining. From our perspective, we’re glad for that.”
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