Everyone loves a good underdog story. Whether it’s the Bad News Bears, Rocky Balboa, or the Average Joes, we all enjoy seeing a good sports upset. Last season we eagerly watched the Avengers Football team triumph over their Middletown rivals in dominant fashion, taking the state championship title with a final score of 50-6. However, by the start of the 2016 season, the Avengers were already positioned to be the underdogs again. After their victory in Division 3, the team was moved up to Division 2 varsity football, a whole new level of competitive play for them. On top of this, 20 seniors from the previous year had graduated and left the team, including key players like Nick Andreozzi, Eagan Reale, and Brian Gemma.
Things weren’t looking good for the Avengers, and there was a long season ahead of them if they wanted to make the same impact they had last year. They already had a tough toad ahead of them, and just when it seemed like the circumstances couldn’t get any worse, disaster struck: senior running back Mitchell Gemma broke his arm.
It happened in the team’s injury fund game against Burrillville. Mitchell was laying out for a pass when a Burrillville defender landed on top of him, fracturing his arm and bringing a sudden stop to Mitch’s season. Since the incident, the Avengers are fighting hard to keep up in their Division. Without Mitchell and many key players from last year, along with other injuries faced by players on the team they have fought to maintain a 1-4 in league record. While they were able to take down Pilgrim high school, they faced a hard loss from Westerly with a final score of 0-49. The Avenger’s football season is looking tougher than ever.
However, in spite of dire circumstances, Mitchell is remaining optimistic about the team’s performance. In an interview he claimed, “It’s going to be a building year. We’re looking for younger players who can step up and fill in.” He says that it’s completely different after moving up into Division 2, but the Avengers should be able to learn a lot this year.
While frustrating, the loss of so many key players also means opportunity for younger athletes to step up. Originally senior Donnie Carcieri-Cassidy was covering Mitchell’s offensive position as running back, but he has been experiencing some injuries with his calf, so sophomores Carl Greene and Kevin Liccardi are filling in and performing well. Senior Russell Caramagno is doing a great job covering Mitchell’s defensive cornerback position. And senior Matt Sylvia as well as junior Andrew Licciardi are showing up big in the Avengers’ effort.
Mitchell is recovering quickly and hoping to be back on the field as soon as possible, just in time for the homecoming game on October 21, this upcoming week. Until then, the team will be playing its hardest. Although it hasn’t been the greatest start to a season, it sure has been an exciting one. Be sure to make it to the homecoming game this Friday (October 21) when the Avengers take on Mt. Pleasant High School, and come out to support the team as much as you can. Afterall, who doesn’t love cheering for the underdog?