WOOD RIVER JCT. — For the Chariho High football team, the foundation for this season will not be about blitzes, pass patterns, blocking schemes, ball possession or defensive intensity.
It will be much more fundamental.
“I think our unity will have to get us through most of the time,” said Rick Martin, who enters his third season as coach.“How well we support each other will determine our success. We have eight kids total that played on the varsity level consistently last season. Some others got in on special teams, but we are struggling with varsity experience.”
Chariho finished 4-6 last season, and moved from Division II to Division III after realignment. Tolman also joined the league from Division I.
Narragansett, Smithfield, Pilgrim, Central Falls and North Providence round out the division.
“We only beat Pilgrim by a point last year. Tolman will want to win. Central Falls is no slouch with a lot of returners. In 2016, Smithfield beat us 49-12,” Martin said. “There are no pushovers in the league. You will have to compete every week.”
Four teams will qualify for the semifinals on Nov. 9. The Super Bowl will be played on Nov. 17, before Thanksgiving.
“I think week to week we are going to be more competitive as we gain experience,” Martin said.
Offensively, Martin said the Chargers will be more run-oriented, at least for now.
Senior Evan Judkins will play quarterback, and junior Tom O’Horo will be at running back. Senior Joe Stanfield will play slotback and get plenty of carries.
Seniors Paul Marshall and Lawson Laurent will be at wide receiver or tight end. Ricky Evola will will also play wideout or slot.
Seniors Ryan Robalewski and Caleb Hamilton will play on the line. Sophomore Sean Goulet and Fred Stanley will also play on the line. The other line positions are unsettled. Robalewski has been injured and the sooner he returns the better.
“We can run right now, and that is a little different than we have been the last couple of years,” Martin said. “Running will carry us for now.
“We can’t have a lot of injuries. If we do, a kid who has no high school varsity experience will have to play.”
Defensively, Phelps and Goulet will anchor the line, while Marshall and Laurent are the defensive ends.
O’Horo, junior Coval Wilde and sophomore Rogan Wotherspoon will start at linebacker.
Stanfield and junior John Haxton are the cornerbacks, while Evola and sophomore Nick Corrente are the safeties.
“Our defense is going to be pretty good,” Martin said. “We had a couple of hiccups in the Injury Fund (a 21-6 loss to South Kingstown), but I think we are going to be OK. Our defense is going to keep us in games.”
Junior Andrew Havens will do the punting and placekicking. Martin expects him to be a big weapon for the Chargers.
“I think from 42 yards and in we will be using him,” Martin said.
Martin sees no need to discuss season goals and the like. Once again, the plan is to stay very basic.
“We are not talking about an end game here. Week to week we want to compete,” Martin said. “This team is going to want to be a playofff team. They want to get more than four wins.
“But I don’t want to really talk about that. We want to reduce the points we give up and add one more touchdown each game. We are going to dial it back and make sure we do what we need to each week.”
Chariho opens the season Friday hosting Westerly in a nonleague game at 7 p.m.