Gallery: First football game at the new EPHS stadium

Townies welcome neighboring Barrington and East Providence legend Sandy Gorham for debut

Photos by Rich Dionne/Story by Mike Rego
Posted 9/11/21

EAST PROVIDENCE —  East Providence High School christened the athletics stadium Friday, Sept. 10, built as part of the new school project with girls' soccer and football games, the Townies …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Gallery: First football game at the new EPHS stadium

Townies welcome neighboring Barrington and East Providence legend Sandy Gorham for debut

Posted

(Updated, Monday, Sept. 13, 11:30 a.m.) EAST PROVIDENCE — East Providence High School christened the athletics stadium Friday, Sept. 10, built as part of the new school project with girls' soccer and football games, the Townies splitting their debuts on the synthetic turf field.

In the afternoon before a few hundred fans, Jordan Brogan and Eva LaRoche potted the goals while Brogan and Hailee Manteiga had assists as East Providence defeated West Warwick, 2-0, in a Division II girls' soccer contest. Kaylee Davenport needed to make just one save to post the shutout in the E.P. net.

“It’s better than Pierce (Stadium). That was my first impression,” said EPHS senior co-captain Lily Budnick, referring to the Townies’ former grass surface home. “It’s awesome. It’s very nice. It’s so smooth to play on,”

Said classmate and fellow captain Olivia Williams, “It’s a state of art field, state of the art facility for sure,” adding of playing the initial official game at the new stadium, “It’s very cool. Good to win on the field, too.”

In the nightcap before an overflow crowd estimated at some 2,000 patrons both in the stands and on the grounds, visiting Barrington defeat the Townies, 7-6, in a non-league football contest.

The difference in the game was an extra-point kick the Eagles converted following a touchdown scored by quarterback John Anderson in the opening period.

The Townies also scored on a QB keeper by Max Whiting in the second quarter, but their kick attempt for the conversion sailed wide left.

"It was a great night for our community," EPHS Athletic Director Gregg Amore said of stadium's formal debut. "A culmination of a great deal of work by so many and with the overwhelming support of the citizens of the city. Anyone who was unsure of what 'Townie Pride' means had their answer last night. It was displayed in the tremendous facility and in those who filled the stands."

The game marked not only the initial football outing on the new field, but also the return of EPHS playing and coaching legend John "Sandy" Gorham, who is in his second stint as the Barrington head coach.

In between, Gorham, who last year retired from his long-time position as an EPHS Physical Education teacher, led the Townies to five Division I state championships and over 100 wins from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s.

“This place is really something. It’s unbelievable,” said Gorham, who was warmly greeted by several former colleagues and fans as he led Barrington onto the field before game.

Current EPHS head coach John Stringfellow was a member of Gorham’s staff during those peak years and is now following in those footsteps as well as of his father Bill Stringfellow, a likewise legendary figure in Townies’ football lore. The elder Stringfellow, for whom his son played, led EPHS to a pair of state championships in 1979 and 1980.

“It was nice to get to see Sandy before the game and catch up a little bit,” said Stringfellow, entering his first full season at the lead of the Townies’ program following a COVID-19 shortened outing last spring.

He continued, “We spent so much time together. He’s kind of been a mentor to me besides my dad. So what better way to open the stadium then to have Sandy in for the first game. It was quite a night.”

Stringfellow said he sees the new stadium and athletics facilities as an opportunity to jump start the EPHS football program, which hasn’t quite been the same over the last decade since near the end of Gorham’s tenure, through some ups and downs under his predecessor Jay Monteiro and into his first go-round last spring when the Townies went 0-4 in the abbreviated season.

“I know some of the traditionalists were disappointed that we were leaving Pierce (Stadium),” Stringfellow said, referencing the Townies’ home for the last eight decades. “And I understand that better than most. I grew up watching in the stands with my family and when I was old enough I went on the field to give the players water, then playing and coaching there. But you can’t walk into the new facility without being excited.”

The current EPHS players, numbering some 70 at the start of the 2021 season and the most in several falls, can be counted among those eagerly looking forward to playing at their new home and in front of boisterous crowds like last weekend.

“I know our kids were walking a little bit taller when we came onto the field Friday night,” Stringfellow said. “We had the new (red) helmets (the Townies have long worn white helmets) and the new uniforms. Everything was shiny and new. It was a fun atmosphere. The support the community showed was kind of overwhelming. It was nice to see that kind of enthusiasm around the football program again. Hopefully we can go out and give them something to cheer about, so it’s not just a one-time thing.

“It was great to be a part of that. You don’t get those opportunities too often. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment to walk on the field. It was just amazing.”

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.