Eddie Blessing may be the busiest football player in the state this fall.
The Narragansett High School senior plays quarterback and safety for the Mariners, while also handling kicking and punting duties. Few plays happen without him on the field, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s really fun,” Blessing said. “I don’t really like sitting on the sidelines.”
His jobs are also a nod to his family’s athletic roots. His father, Matt, the head coach of the Mariners, was an all-state quarterback at Narragansett. His mother, Jennifer, was a soccer star and is a member of Curry College’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Eddie followed in both sets of footsteps when he was growing up, playing soccer and flag football. With both sports in the same season at the high school level, he chose football but kept right on kicking.
“I used to play soccer and I always grew up playing flag football,” he said. “When I made the switch, I just gave it a shot and it clicked.”
Blessing first made an impression with the Mariners as a freshman kicker under former head coach Chris Lussier. The new coaching staff came aboard the next year, with Matt Blessing taking over. Eddie has enjoyed the experience of playing for his father, though it’s not a walk in the park.
“He’s hard on me, but it’s good because it makes me better,” Eddie said.
Blessing filled in at the quarterback spot as a sophomore while continuing to kick. Last year, he battled an injury early in the year but returned as the full-time starter under center. It was a rough season for the Mariners, though they rallied for a win in their Thanksgiving game against Exeter-West Greenwich/Prout.
This year has brought a resurgence. With Blessing at the controls, the Mariners are running an air-raid style offense that is putting up big points. Narragansett is 4-0 overall and 2-0 in league play. Blessing accounted for five touchdowns in a win over Toll Gate, getting it done with his arm and his feet. Receivers Colby Corson, Tyler Poirier and B.J. Richards, and running back Atticus Duncan have emerged as standout targets.
“The passing league this summer really gave him and the receivers a real good feel for our offense,” Matt Blessing said. “There are still little things I get on him about it, a little too much being his father. But I also want him to make that progression. He’s doing a great job with it.”
Blessing added the safety position to his repertoire this season and likes what it’s done for his overall game.
“My first three years, I didn’t really get to play defense,” he said. “Now I’m out there at safety and I love it back there, seeing the field. It’s helped me out as a quarterback, too, with coverages.”
The jam-packed games can take a toll. In the matchup with Toll Gate, Blessing tried a field goal in the second half and didn’t have the leg for it. There’s also the risk of injury, especially for an undersized player, in an offense that requires getting the ball out fast, before the rush arrives.
“It’s nice that he can do all those things, but it puts a lot of pressure on him,” Matt Blessing said. “He knows he’s got the feet to run the ball, but we’ve got to make sure we keep him healthy.”
In the heat of the game, there isn’t much time for the head coach to reflect, but seeing his son in the same position he used to play has been fun. Although, Matt Blessing admits, their games are a little different.
“I was a slow, big-armed guy. I was not running. I was just dropping back to pass,” he said with a laugh. “His mother was a phenomenal soccer player, played in college. He’s got her speed.”
The Blessings hope one thing is the same in their busy fall season.
“My dad was pretty successful, played in a couple of Super Bowls here,” Eddie Blessing said. “We’re trying to get to a Super Bowl this year and go out on top.”