Frank Terminesi dusted off his letterman’s jacket as the Narragansett football team prepped for the Super Bowl last week. The assistant coach won a Super Bowl title when he played for the Mariners, and he wanted the current players to know how much it still meant.
“Coach Terminesi gave us sheets of paper with the word legacy on them. He wore his jacket to practice,” junior Tyler Poirier said. “That was a fire for us. It got us going.”
The program’s renewal in recent years has allowed it to tap into its history and pride, and it’s not just some far off memory. Head coach Matt Blessing played quarterback for the Mariners. Assistant coach Sam Fry blocked for him. Terminesi won a Super Bowl with the team. Over the past few years, a number of other assistant coaches had Narragansett football roots. At one point, three generations of the DiCicco family were involved, two as coaches, one on the field. The stands at Cranston Stadium on Sunday were dotted with former players who are now playing college football.
“It’s outstanding,” Fry said. “We understand what Mariner pride is all about and it’s outstanding to see these guys carry it on.”
Fry was part of two runner-up teams. His nephew, Reider, plays running back for the current Mariners and got the family a championship.
“My nephew Reider, I told him he had to get one for me and his dad,” Fry said.
Jacket on, Terminesi’s message resonated with the Mariners.
“I told them that legacy isn’t something you leave for somebody, it’s something you leave in somebody,” he said. “It’s something people remember. That’s why coach Fry is here, coach Blessing is here. I won a Super Bowl right on this field with Mariner football. It’s deep in me and I wanted those guys to understand what it’s like to have that feeling.”
Cranston Stadium now has an artificial turf field but somewhere deep below it are some of Blessing’s football roots. With his older brothers having played on the team, he was a ball boy when the Mariners won their first championship in 1986 at Cranston Stadium. Years later, he made his first high school start on the same field.
“Kind of crazy,” Blessing said. “I was feeling good about being here.”
The five soccer players who came out for football when it moved to the spring now have two championships to their names. The Mariners won the D-III soccer title in the fall and now the football championship.
Brady Butler was at the head of the pack, earning MVP honors.
“We knew he was capable of things like that, but he even opened our eyes when he returned that kickoff like that,” Blessing said. “He’s a special kid and a special player. He’s kind of built for football. He’s had a great soccer career, but it’s amazing to come in and be a Super Bowl MVP. And he does it on both sides of the ball. He’s not a one-trick pony.”
Quarterback Phil Theroux remembers seeing Butler on the field for the first time at practice.
“I was like, this kid’s crazy good,” Theroux said.
Narragansett embraced a high-powered aerial attack in 2019 with senior quarterback Eddie Blessing at the helm. His graduation left a hole, but the arrival of Theroux – a transfer from North Kingstown – allowed the Mariners to keep the same identity. Theroux proved a capable passer and excelled at getting the ball to the team’s top weapons.
“At first, I didn’t know everyone. It was tough,” Theroux said. “But at the end of the day, I got to know these guys really well and I fit in the system. Great chemistry. It’s been fun.”
Peanut Chaloux had a terrific year at safety for Narragansett, so it was no small thing when he left Sunday’s Super Bowl game with an ankle injury in the second half, particularly with Ponaganset still threatening to tie the game.
His replacement made the biggest play of the game.
Sophomore Harry Lague forced a fumble with 3:47 left, and Ponaganset never got the ball back.
“Harry stepped in. We lost Jared to an ankle injury,” Blessing said. “This is a big moment and that’s not an easy task as a sophomore. To force that fumble was amazing.”
Many members of the Mariner football family keeping tabs on the championship run were undoubtedly thinking of longtime coach Dick Fossa, who died suddenly last June.
Fossa was at the helm for the program’s previous two championships, in 1999 and 2003.