It’s been at least 20 years since a Providence Day football team has begun a season 6-1, but after a 24-14 win at rival Charlotte Latin on Sept. 28, that’s exactly where the Chargers find themselves heading into their bye week.
And this one was a little more special to coach Adam Hastings.
His team was finding its way last year before the Hawks crushed their spirits with a 56-15 loss that sent the Chargers tailspinning to a 1-3 finish, a disappointing 3-7 record and an 0-3 CISAA mark and kept them out of the playoffs.
“Every win has been big for us so far, but this one is special because of what happened last year and because of what coach McNulty has done here and how good of a program this is,” Hastings said. “It’s always good to beat them.”
But to win the Chargers had to come back from a rather slow start that saw them struggle to move the ball early and punt on their first two possessions.
After Latin running back DeMarkes Stradford scored from four yards out, the Hawks led 7-0.
On the ensuing Latin drive, freshman Nickel Fields intercepted quarterback Martin Sumichrast and took it to the house to get the Chargers on the board. On Latin’s next drive, Porter Rooks intercepted Sumichrast to set up a scoring run by Osita Ekwonu to get the Chargers up 14-7.
Stradford would score again on a wild 51-yard scamper, but the Charger defense stepped up from there.
Latin drove deep into Providence Day territory just before the half, but the Chargers held and the Hawks let the clock run out before they could kick a field goal.
Stradford finished the first half with 94 yards on 11 carries, but would be held to 24 yards on seven carries in the second half as the Charger defense put the clamps on all Latin scoring chances.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Hastings said. “We played great defensively and our coaches put together a great game plan. I think they did a great job and especially so after last year. They beat us big here last year and that was kind of the arch or our season a little bit, but hopefully this win does the same thing for us going forward.
“We didn’t do a lot different in the second half, but I think our guys just stepped up and were determined. We had some mistakes in the first half, but we cut down on those and just played really well in the second half.”
Fields was the difference as he ran for 108 yards on 18 carries, scored on the pick-6 and hauled in five passes – mostly in spectacular fashion – for a team-high 68 yards and a touchdown.
“We ask so much out of Nickel, Porter, Jacolbe (Cowan) and all of our linemen and it’s like one one week Nickel steps up, one week Porter steps up and one week it’s (quarterback) Cody (Cater),” Hastings said. “It’s fun to see because I think we’ve taken all of these guys and had them come together. Sometimes that takes some time, but I think that’s what they’ve done.”
The Chargers are off this week, but will finish with home games against Charlotte Country Day and Charlotte Christian sandwiched between a game at unbeaten Christ School.
As happy as Hastings and his team is now, they know the stretch run will determine what kind of season this will be remembered as.
“This is a really big win for us, it’s a great way to go into our bye and it’s great for right now,” Hastings said. “But this isn’t what I care about. For us, we need to continue to do the things that we do and not get away from practicing the right way, preparing the right way and mentally doing the right things and close this out.”