It was a beautiful Thanksgiving morning at Cranston Stadium where the Cranston East Thunderbolts faced the Cranston West Falcons, a tradition and rivalry that is closing in on it’s 50th anniversary. This game certainly lived up to the bill, with a combined 61 points scored by both Cranston teams. Falcons' Senior running back Marcus Chung accounted for 24 of those points, scoring four touchdowns to put the Falcons up over the Thunderbolts 35-26 in his last high school game. After the game, Chung spoke on his magnificent senior season and overall football career.
“We obviously didn’t get the result we wanted [this season] which was winning the division two championship, but it just feels amazing to finish the year off, I mean fourteen long hard years of football and finishing it off with a great game with the whole city behind you and with the brothers you’ve been with for the past four years every single day just feels amazing,” said Chung.
The star running back also opened up about what’s next for him in the future.
“I’m still thinking about it, I’m honestly not sure where football will bring me in the future, but if this is my last time putting on a uniform, I’m grateful to say it’s with this group of guys and we’ll see what the future holds,” said Chung
Chung scored the first points of the game early into the first quarter on the Falcons' opening drive off a goal line run. In the second quarter, the Falcons had an explosive screen pass caught by senior running back Dimitri Leblanc who took it 77 yards to the house. Swiss army knife Jack Majcher kicked the extra point to put the falcons up 14-0.
After some troubles on offense caused by Majcher and Noah Ciceron getting into the backfield, the Thunderbolts finally found the endzone. Antonello Lucchetti caught the touchdown pass going over the middle, redeeming himself for a drop near the endzone earlier on in the drive. The PAT was missed, making the score 14-6, Falcons.
Despite a couple of big catches in succession by Majcher, the Falcons ended up turning it over on downs on their next drive. The turnover on downs positioned the Thunderbolts at their own 39 with less than 30 seconds left on the clock. Trying to get a quick score, the Thunderbolts fumbled. Cranston West then took the ball down to the red zone thanks to a 35-yard catch and run by Chung. Looking to the endzone, sophomore quarterback Kelan Cornell was intercepted by senior cornerback Naz Milien on the last play of the first half. A good angle and tackle by Leblanc kept Milien from running it back to the opposite endzone.
In the second half, Cranston West got a pick for themselves by the means of a tipped and caught ball by senior cornerback and receiver Hudson Carvalho. The interception ultimately led to a 41-yard touchdown run by Chung who was stopped at the line at first, but then bounced outside and hit the edge hard. With Automatic Majcher hitting the PAT, the Falcons went up 21-6.
After another fumble by East, West drove on offense into the fourth quarter, where Chung would grab his 3rd touchdown off another run that he bounced to the outside after having some trouble up the gut. This score would put the Falcons up 28-6, but the Thunderbolts were not about to quit. East responded by airing it out with senior quarterback Da’Qwon Foster, who would hit Milien for a first down, and would then make a beautiful throw to senior receiver Nachbi Chery on a streak for 42 yards. Foster finished off the drive with a touchdown pass to Lucchetti, who made a great run after the catch for his second touchdown. With the two point try being no good, the score became 28-12.
West would respond with a well-engineered drive of their own, kickstarted by a 29-yard connection between Cornell and fellow sophomor/e Adrian Samayoa on a seam. From there, Chung would do his thing and run to the outside for a 15-yard touchdown. Cranston East fired right back once again, with a 30-yard touchdown pass to standout senior Romeo Cordero. The two-point attempt was no good, bringing the score to 35-18, Falcons.
With little time remaining in the fourth quarter, the Falcons were content with burning clock, and they eventually punted. After a bad punt by the Falcons, the Thunderbolts were set up beautifully in enemy territory, where Cordero would get his second touchdown on a 42-yard streak. This time, the two point try was successful, with Foster bulldozing his way into the endzone on a quarterback draw, bringing the score up to 35-26, where it would stay until the end, with Cranston West kneeling the game out after a couple more strong runs by Chung.
After the game, there was a short ceremony where offensive and defensive MVPs for both teams were recognized. For Cranston East, the defensive MVP was Naz Milien, and the offensive MVP was Romeo Cordero. For Cranston West, the defensive MVP was Stevie Girouard and the offensive MVP was non other than Marcus Chung.
It was a great Thanksgiving Day for football, and the game matched that energy, with both teams leaving it all out on the field in their last game of the season, and the fans coming out in full support of their teams. Before the game, both coaches spoke on the East versus West rivalry and what the game means for all involved.
“The east/west football rivalry in my opinion is one of the best in the state, it’s been going on for well over 40 years. It’s a great day, it’s kind of a sad day because it’s the last game of the season, but the good thing is you’re coming together, playing your rival, but at the end of the day we are just one city. It’s exciting, it’s a beautiful day, it’s great for the kids, it’s usually a great atmosphere with the two bands and both fanbases. It’s just a good atmosphere for a high school football game,” said Cranston West Head Coach Tom Milewski.
“It’s always good to have an extra [game] one, no matter how the season went, especially this one, it brings the city together, there’s always a great crowd here, it’s great for the players to have that experience of playing in front of a crowd like this. It’s a great atmosphere and great day to bring the city together,” said Cranston East Head Coach Isaiah McDaniel.
With many seniors on both sides leaving after this game, it will be interesting to see how these teams fair next year and who will step up. It will be fun to watch this classic rivalry next year, with it being the 50th anniversary of East versus West on Thanksgiving Day.