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Fall River grid dreams for Diman

By Bob Holmes
Globe Staff / October 24, 2011

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Squeezed into Fall River between Routes 6 and 24, the students at 251 Stonehaven Road don’t mind if their football team isn’t the first one you think of this fall.

But with a 6-1 record and a huge game Friday, Diman Regional deserves a closer look. What began as a woodworking shop for 15 boys has grown to almost 1,400 students, and those who play football for coach Richard Vickrey are good . . . very good.

Last Friday, the Bengals beat Bristol-Plymouth, 20-6, to go 2-0 in the Mayflower Large. Next up is a trip to Canton to face unbeaten defending champion Blue Hills. The winner could very well represent the league in the MIAA’s postseason. And if it’s Diman, it would be the Bengals’ first trip to the playoffs.

Diman had a football program in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until 2005 that football returned, and as a junior varsity sport at first. While football may be new to Diman, educating students isn’t.

Earlier this month the school started a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary. Diman was founded in Fall River as Diman Vocational School in 1912 by the Rev. John Diman, an Episcopal clergyman and headmaster of St. George’s School in Middletown, R.I. Diman shares a Fall River address with high schools Bishop Connolly and Durfee.

But it’s football where the Bengals want to make their own history, and in their own way.

“We’re trying to make young men, to teach kids how to make the right decisions,’’ said Vickrey, who has been the Bengals’ only head coach since the program returned and is a metal shop teacher. “If we can do that, they can be good husbands and fathers. So I won’t know if I’ve done my job for five or 10 years.’’

But Vickrey knows what’s working on the field, even if it doesn’t take him long to return to a theme that’s clearly important to him.

“The wing-T. We don’t have that many big kids,’’ explained Vickrey, who graduated from Somerset (class of ’68) and was an assistant there for 15 years. “It’s just all of us playing together. That’s the way they feel about each other.

“Last Friday was their last home game and just about everyone was together at the end. Like a bunch of young brothers. It was sad for them to leave the field. They didn’t want to leave.’’

One of those guys was senior Austin Campos. A three-year starter, first at receiver and the last two years at quarterback, Campos had the Bengals’ first score again B-P. Add junior Mike Ferreira and sophomore Johnny Padilla, and Diman has a potent running attack that is producing 26.4 points per game, up from the 20.6 of last year, when Diman went 6-5.

Along with Campos, the Diman captains are tight end Bento Moniz and halfback Trevon Goncalves. A fourth captain rotates every week based on the previous game as well as practice performance.

Diman will need all of them Friday against Blue Hills. Last fall, Diman lost to the Warriors, 14-8. Are the Bengals ready for the rematch?

“Is anyone ready for Blue Hills?’’ asked Vickrey. “The only thing we can do is focus on what we can control. Run our plays and hopefully we’ll be 1 point better.’’

Pinkney slowed, not stopped - In Putnam’s 28-20 win over Chicopee Saturday, senior Melquawn Pinkney was held to 85 yards rushing, matching his season low. That puts him at 1,611 yards for the season. Putnam improved to 7-0.

No misprint, it’s Bug - Governor’s Academy is off to a 5-0 start in the ISL and the star of Saturday’s win over St. Mark’s was running back Bug Carger. The sophomore’s name is Andrew but he goes by “Bug,’’ a nickname he’s embraced since he was 6, according to first-year coach Jim O’Leary. Bug was a pest to St. Mark’s, running for 125 yards and a touchdown. Junior quarterback Tate Jozokos - who has committed to play lacrosse at North Carolina - is tied for the ISL lead with eight touchdown passes.

The end zone - Marshfield coach Lou Silva has 197 wins after the Rams beat Nauset Friday . . . With his four touchdown passes Friday, Catholic Memorial’s AJ Doyle has 37 for his career. That ties him with Mansfield’s Ryan Bonnyman and St. Mary’s Chris Dwyer.