Barrington football team wins state championship

Defense makes key stops as Eagles defeat Clippers 28-21

By Josh Bickford
Posted 11/19/23

The Barrington High School football team made two goal line stands in the fourth quarter and won the Division II State Championship, 28-21, against Cumberland on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 18.  

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Barrington football team wins state championship

Defense makes key stops as Eagles defeat Clippers 28-21


The Barrington High School football team made two goal line stands in the fourth quarter and won the Division II State Championship, 28-21, against Cumberland on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 18.  

The Eagles’ offense shined in the first half. Barrington built leads of 7-0, 14-0, and 21-7 against the Clippers. But the Eagles’ defense was the star in the second half. 

With the game on the line, Barrington stopped two Cumberland drives inside the one yard line. The second goal line stand came with three minutes to play. 

Following the game, Barrington Coach Sandy Gorham heaped praise on his team.

“Two goal line stands against a team as big and powerful as them, running backs as good as they are… just unbelievable. We played hard all year, and when we needed it, they came through. Just amazing,” Gorham said, 

With time running down and nursing a 28-21 lead, Barrington turned to its defense. 

Defensive linemen Matt Zimmerman, Nate Gravelle and Marco Lopergolo, linebackers AJ DiOrio, Owen Willard and Will DiGiacomo, and corners and safeties Trevor Snow, Chucky Potter, Mitchell Ivatts, Blake Dolan and Troy Van Ness stopped the Clippers on four straight plays inside the 10. On fourth and goal at the two, Barrington’s defense pushed through the Cumberland offensive line and pulled down the Clippers’ quarterback inside the one yard line.

Ivatts said he knew the defense would rise to the challenge.

“I just get everyone rallied up,” he said. “When we’re on the one yard line I know I have to get everyone going. We just have to stop them. We’re just stronger than them…We’ve just got that strength in us and we know we can stop them.”

Barrington’s sideline and huge contingent of fans that made the trip to Cranston Stadium exploded with cheers.

“They (Cumberland) ran the same quarterback sneak thinking they were just going to push through us, and our kids came through,” Gorham said. “They dug down and came through. I’m very proud of these kids.”

Barrington’s offense took over possession inside the one and ran out the clock — quarterback Alex McClelland and running back DiOrio picked up key first downs to ensure the victory. 

McClelland said he was so happy that he and his teammates could cap the playoff run with the win. 

“These are my best friends. I’ve been friends with these guys since flag football, since I moved here. I’ve known these guys forever. We’ve played football forever. So to win it, especially with these guys, it’s just so special… You can’t write it better than that. It’s like a movie,” McClelland said. 

Fast start

Barrington opened the game on defense and stopped the previously-undefeated Clippers. The Eagles offense took over near midfield and went to work. Ivatts played a key role in the first scoring drive. The senior picked up a big first down on the ground and hauled in a long pass from McClelland to give the Eagles first and goal at the three. On the next play, Ivatts took the handoff and powered into the end zone. 

The Eagles increased their lead to 14-0 a few minutes later. After forcing Cumberland to punt, Barrington went to work blasting through the Clippers’ defense. DiOrio had some key carries and McClelland, who was named MVP of the game with two touchdowns, barreled into the end zone. After Ben Aree’s extra point, the Eagles led 14-0.

Cumberland scored on a long pass on its next series, but Barrington answered. Charly Potter caught a short kick-off and nearly broke it for a touchdown. He was pushed out of bounds inside the Clippers’ 35 yard line. 

McClelland hit Jack Robinson on a key third down pass, and on fourth and one, McClelland followed blocks by Ivatts and DiOrio, ran over the Clippers’ safety and sprinted into the end zone. 

Leading 21-7, Barrington’s defense stepped up. The Eagles forced Cumberland into a fourth down and 15 near midfield. The Clippers’ QB lofted a long pass into the end zone, and Barrington’s Potter arrived just in time to knock the ball away from the receiver. Referees flagged the Eagles for unnecessary roughness on the play. That allowed Cumberland to maintain possession. Eventually, the Clippers punched in their second touchdown. 

Barrington led 21-14 at the half, and Cumberland evened the scored in the third quarter, 21-21.

But Barrington was up for the challenge. The Eagles’ offense found success on the ground and then turned to a trick play to regain the lead. Late in the third quarter, McClelland handed the ball off to Ivatts who ran to his right and then lofted a pass to Jack Robinson who was uncovered down the field. The senior caught the ball and jogged into the end zone. Aree kicked the extra point and the Eagles led 28-21.

“I played quarterback my first two years of high school, they had to put (that play) in eventually. My boy Jack was there…” Ivatts said. 

Robinson said he was happy to hear the play called in the huddle.

“We call it in practice so I get used to it. Come game time, we always execute. Mitchie put it there. It was a good play call by the coaches because both those kids (Cumberland defensive backs) bit. It was wide open,” Robinson said.

The fourth quarter was all about the Eagles’ defense.

“Sandy said at halftime ‘I hope you guys didn’t think we were going to win 56-0. They (Cumberland) were 10-0 for a reason. They’ve been beating teams up.’ We knew the situation was going to come and we knew we had to prevail and keep our composure,” McClelland said.

“That was electric. Season on the line. Multiple times they got to the one yard line. We just needed a stop and the defense came through.”

Barrington improved to 10-1 with the victory and will host Mt. Hope in the annual Thanksgiving Day game. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m. at Victory Field. 

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