December 11, 2019

25th Anniversary of Martin Jr. High football State Championship. Alumni & friends to Gather Wed. Night.

Honoring all Townie Football Wed. Night at Field House Pub on Lyon Ave. Former players, fans invited.

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EPHS and LaSalle have rich tradition on Thanksgiving Day

This year represents the 25th anniversary of the Martin Junior High football state championship from 1994. Now called Martin Middle School, the Wildcats undefeated team in '94, teamed with the '94 Riverside Vikings Jr. High team and promoted student-athletes to EPHS which contributed to the start of Hall of Fame football coach John "Sandy" Gorham's football dynasty at EP. East Providence had enjoyed a reputation as one of, if not the best, football programs in Rhode Island from its inception through a few years ago. The recent teams, although very good, find it hard to compete for the #1 state title, for many reasons. However under current Head Coach Jay Monteiro, the tradition continues and the program has been improving.

The head coach for those '94 Martin champions was Frank DeVall. The '94 Martin Wildcats title team and many of the Viking players went on to win state championships at EPHS. Those Gorham led teams won state titles in '97, '99, '02, '03 and '06. Frank DeVall is a 1982 graduate of EPHS and played football for the Townies. DeVall, now retired from teaching and school administration in EP and elsewhere, was also a RI State Senator. DeVall is a volunteer assistant coach with the current EP Townie football team.

Frank DeVall and his 1994 Martin Wildcats are planning an impromptu reunion of that '94 State Championship team and supporters. The Wildcat-Townies will gather at the Field House Pub at 305 Lyon Avenue, adjacent to the back of Pierce Stadium. The below ground pub has been featuring a local sports and Townie theme among its events. It even has a replica of the Fenway Green monster painted on an outside wall.

"Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve, we will be at The Field House Pub celebrating all things Townie Football, along with the 25th Anniversary of the Martin JHS ‘94 Freshmen State Championship Team! If you’re in town, c’mon on by," DeVall posted on social media.

The gathering is also hoping to honor all Townie Football success and Townie Pride. Before Coach Gorham there was Steve Silva who won a lot and another legend. Bill Stringfellow. "Beansy" Stringfellow followed Jim Deffley and Stringfellow's teams were among EP's best. The 50th and 40th anniversaries of the '69 & '79 teams along with all things Townie will be celebrated. Since the closing of the legendary Bovi's Tavern, Townies have been scattered in their plans to meet before the "big" game. "We're at least hoping that former players and fans will make an appearance at Field House Pub on Wednesday night, even if they have plans to stop elsewhere later on. Come join us for as long as you can and help keep one of the state's greatest traditions alive. Of course, former LaSalle players and fans are welcomed too. Just like at Bovi's!"

LaSalle has won 17 titles and EPHS has 15 state championships. Hendricken is creeping up with their 15th state title this year (Hawks won 9 of the last 10). East Providence won state championships in 1943, 1949, 1950, 1953, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1979, 1980, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006. The Townies handled Hendricken well through the years. The Hawks bested the Townies 26-12 in 1995 but EP then beat the Hawks 26-0 in 1997, 12-6 in OT in 1999 and again 35-12 in 2006. The Townies beat LSA in super bowl games in 2002, 35-21, and in 2003, 19-6. LSA won the title in 2001, 26-18.

The game this year is a Townie home game.  It will be played at Pierce Stadium at 10:00 am.  The "big game" has lost its luster to some but to many the tradition lives on. For how long - is anybody's guess.

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