WOOD RIVER JCT. — The time to experiment seems to be over two games into the season as the Chariho High Chargers and Westerly High Bulldogs prepare to face off in a Divisiion II-A football game at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Westerly (0-2, 0-1 Division II-A) is discarding its brand-new spread-formation offense and reverting back to its tried-and-true Delaware Wing T (quarterback under center, fullback and wingback forming a T and halfback next to the tight end).
“We’ve reverted back to the old offense,” Westerly coach Chris Wriedt said. “The new one wasn’t a good fit for us. There were certain things we couldn’t do in the new system with the people that we have. The kids are picking it back up pretty fast.
“We may have been predictible in the past, but we did it pretty well. It will re-establish us as a more physical team. We’ll have to establish the run first to help set up the pass.
“I was learning as I was going (with a new system). This is what I know (the old) and so does my staff. And the kids like it, too.”
Chariho (1-1, 0-1 Division II-A) is keeping its I-formation pro-style set, but cutting back somewhat on its planned rotation of running backs and concentrating on fundamentals.
The Chargers relied, and understandably so, for the bulk of their offense on All-State senior tailback Austin McQuaide last year (16 of 25 rushing touchdowns and a school-record 1,655 rushing yards). Coach Mike Kelly said his plan to rotate five or six running backs was not working and that he would trim that back and focus his young team on fundamentals.
“There’s no way to get game experience without playing the game,” Kelly said. “But our kids were getting a little bit too creative and carried away. We needed to settle down and get back to the foundation.
“There’s no magic here. We just have to get better. We’re cutting down on the rotation a bit and we’ll focus as a team on the basics.”
Chariho won its opening nonleague game by edging Division III Narragansett 20-14. The team was shut out 28-0 by Coventry in a Division II-A game last weekend, in which the Oakers amassed a 362-84 margin in total offense.
Wriedt and Kelly have exchanged game tapes. Wriedt anticipates a Charger rebound.
“Coach Kelly is like me,” Wriedt said. “It should be a tough game. It’s like we’ll line up, hit you in the mouth and see how you respond.”
Westerly lost its season opener 35-6 to Division I Barrington. The Bulldogs lost 28-14 to Division II-A Mt. Hope last weekend.
“I’ve seen how much Westerly has improved from week one to two,” Kelly said. “Everything starts with their running back and they throw the ball, too.We’ll have our hands full.”
The Chargers and Bulldogs started a relatively recent rivalry in football when Chariho advanced to and joined Westerly at the Divsion II level. Westerly leads the series 5-3.
The Bulldogs won 35-14 last year and 16-0 the year before — the Chargers only loss in that subsesequent 2011 Super Bowl winning season.
“The season doesn’t begin or end with this or any other game,” Kelly said. “Each Friday is our biggest game.
“We’re both coming off a loss and a bad taste in our mouth. We’re both fighting some of the same battles. It should be a good game.”
Wriedt echoes those sentiments.
“Both of us come in with the same abilities and we’re both 0-1 in the division,” Wriedt said. “It’s a relatively important game — early in the season, a division game and a rivalry. It has all the ingredients for a really good football game.”
Stonington at Montville
Friday at 6:30 p.m.
OAKDALE — What a difference a year makes.
Last year the Stonington Bears and Montville Indians played in the teams’ eighth game of the season that had a huge impact on state playoff chances for each.
Montville (ECC Medium Division champion) won 35-14 and subsequently made the playoffs. Stonington (ECC Small Division champion) did not.
This year Stonington has moved up to join Montville in the Medium Division. This is the first division game for both teams. Each is winless in nonleague play.
Montville lost its season opener 33-20 to Windham (now ECC-Small) and was routed 48-21 by Norwich Free Academy (ECC-Large) last weekend. Stonington lost 34-20 to Fitch (ECC-Large) in its season opener last weekend.
“Montville played the best team in the conference and one of the best in the state in NFA,” Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. “And Windham is very good. Their opponents have been very challenging.
“We feel the same in starting our season with Fitch and now Montville — both are very challenging. We want to play against good football teams. And Montville is very good.”
Harry Calmar scored two touchdowns in the loss to Fitch (on a 46-yard pass play form Divante White and on a 70-yard kickoff return) and Zach Poirier scored the other (on an 11-yard run)
White and Poirier are healthy for the Montville game. Massengale said Calmar sustained a thigh injury and left the game shortly after his fourth-quarter kickoff return, has not practiced since, and may not be able to play on Friday.
Montville’s star running back Jeremiah Crowley did not play in the season opener, played sparingly last week and is expected to play Friday.
“They have Crowley, a good quarterback and receivers who can get open. We’ll have our hands full. We’ve been focusing on stopping the run.
“Both teams are looking to right the ship and get things going. I think it’ll be a challenging game.”
Chargers on the basics as they get ready for Friday’s game.
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