2023 High School Golf Preview: Central Division
We start our 2023 series with the Central Division, which features one of the great rivalries in high school golf – Bishop Hendricken and East Greenwich.
The two have gone back and forth for the division over the last several years and Hendricken edged out EG for the State Championship two years ago.
“I have enjoyed our battles with Hendricken over the years, we have had some really cool battles,” said EG head coach Marc Brocato.
However, a third team could be poised to make a run this year in the form of Cranston West.
“I like our team from top to bottom, actually,” said West head coach Stephen Hallas.
The Bishop Hendricken Hawks finished second in the State Championship last season in what was a bit of a mini-rebuild following a State Title win.
“I’m learning a ton. There is so much going into this that you don’t really appreciate. Organizing the practices, getting equipment for the kids communicating with them as far as when practice is, then we got the Hendricken invitational and everything else. It’s challenging, but you do your best and make sure you don’t let anyone down,” said Leopold.
The Hawks will be led by seniors Brady Williams and Andrew Chadwick, both of whom are seeking to finish their careers with a state title.
“Chadwick and Williams are returning they are the captains of the team they will lead us. Brady and Drew are really good friends as well, and the two of them together have created a really good atmosphere,” Leopold added.
Other players expected to play key roles for the Hawks include Gianni Fontenault, who was a key member of the 2022 squad, as well as, Michael Pezzullo and Noah West.
One player to watch for is sophomore Thomas Hanson.
“Hanson has come a long way, he works really hard. I wouldn’t be surprised If he gets some time this year,” said Leopold.
Both of those guys played last season, but saw their scores not count in a majority of Hendricken’s matches.
They will look to improve this season and crack the lineup.
East Greenwich has competed for state championships in each of the last couple of seasons, and this year will be no different.
The Avengers are built around seniors Ryan Marcantonio and Brendan Fox, both of whom are set to play college golf next season at Coastal Carolina and Roger Williams, respectively.
“Fox is someone who has really come into his own. We played six rounds so far and he is neck and neck with Ryan for the total score. He has really grown into his game. Ryan is as talented a player as I’ve ever had, just trying to get him to believe how good he really is,” said Brocato.
Ryan’s younger brother Dylan, a sophomore, has also looked sharp in the preseason.
According to Brocato, he has grown some inches since freshman year and has added about 20 yards of distance.
Junior Tyler Asay will be in the four spot for the Avengers.
“Asay has lots of talent, still a little bit green, but the more he plays the better he gets,” said Brocato.
One unique thing about the EG roster is there are no freshmen, so they come into the year with a very veteran squad looking to win now.
The Falcons made it to the state championship last season and look to find their way back this year.
Cranston West is returning four of the six players from last season and Hallas tells GolfNewsRI there are ten players competing for about six spots.
“I can’t say I have a true #1, or true #2, but they are all playing pretty solid golf,” said Hallas.
The Falcons will be led by Michael DeCesare, who made second team all-state last season and has played well in practice so far this season.
Joe Corso will also play a big role after being sick for most of last season.
“He is hitting the ball longer than last year. i’m excited to see what he can do this year,” said Hallas.
Three other men’s players to watch include Shawn Cadieux, who made third team all-state last season, as well as, two freshman jack Marques and Jagger Dion.
“Marques played in the Challenge Cup Match Play at Triggs and Dion just started playing golf, so he is raw. See what he can do,” added Hallas.
Victoria Minicucci will lead the way on the girls side of things, looking to compete for a high school state title.
Best of the Rest
Toll Gate – The Titans will look to compete in the tough Central Division, led by seniors Ryan Dacey, Brodie Marinelli, Jacob Pella and Jodeci Birkenfeld.
“I have a shallow depth team overall,” said head coach William Russo.
However, Dacey is one of the best high school players in the state and should contend for the individual title.
“Ryan should be in the mix this year for one of the top individuals. He has been a two time all stater. He qualified for match play last year in the RIGA State Am for the round of 32. He has also qualified for the last two New England High School Championships. He will be going to Roger Williams next year to play golf for Ed Kirby,” said Russo.
Toll Gate will look to find contributions from Mya Reynolds, Bryan Tombs and Riley Giroux.
Coventry – Coventry is new to the division this season, replacing Classical who was moved to the West Division.
“Coventry is in the division now, they are going to compete with everybody, along with Hendricken and EG,” said Hallas.
The Oakers will look for big contributions from Sam Fuentes, Jacob Marcotte and Tyler Padula.
The other two teams in the division are Pilgrim and West Warwick.
West Warwick was a really young team last season, and will look to build on that this year.