COVENTRY — Stanley Dunbar did not leave the talent cupboard bare when he left Coventry after two years to take the Westerly High football head coaching job in November.
The Oakers are starting to show the fruits of Dunbar's two-year rebuilding project now during the RIIL's five-game spring season. They improved to 2-0 with a dominant all-around effort in 31-0 win over Chariho Saturday in a Division III contest.
Coventry senior quarterback Will Turner, a 2,000-yard passer as a junior in 2019, threw for two TDs, a stable of backs combined for 200 yards and a collection of physical linemen made life difficult for Chariho's key skill players: running back Rogan Wotherspoon (14 carries, 20 yards) and quarterback Zach Boschwitz (1-for-9 passing, 24 yards, two interceptions). The Chargers gained less than 50 yards in total offense and ran 10 plays that lost yardage.
"Coventry is good in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams," Chariho coach Nick Russo said. "They're a good team but we have to get better in every area. A 31-0 loss is not what we're looking for."
Chariho (0-2) doesn't get a schedule breaks. It hosts Classical and its Division I wide receiver prospect Marquis Buchanan April 11 at noon. Buchanan nearly single-handedly took down Coventry in the season opener, catching 10 passes for 307 yards in a 21-20 Oaker victory.
"He's 6-3, fast and a big-time prospect," Coventry first-year coach Gary Goodheart said. "It may seem unbelievable that a team could lose with a 300-yard receiving game (and 396 passing yards overall), but we possessed the ball for 75 percent of the game. Classical only ran about 20 plays. That's our style to control the ball. We did that early today to set the tone. We wanted to keep the ball out of Chariho's playmakers' hands, especially Wotherspoon."
Coventry drove 58 yards in 10 plays on the opening drive, scoring on Nick Carpinello's 1-yard TD run. The Oakers converted a 4th-and-1 and a 33-yard pass on third and long from Turner to Tommy Turner on that drive.
Chariho went three and out and gave Coventry a short field on an 11-yard punt. Turner found Logan Carson for a 15-yard TD pass for a 13-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.
Chariho drove inside Coventry territory on Boschwitz's 24-yard pass to Chris Bliven, but Coventry's defense stiffened with one of its four sacks of the Charger quarterback.
The Charger defense stabilized the game in the second quarter, holding Coventry inside the 10-yard line to set up a missed 30-yard field goal. Bliven also recovered a Coventry fumble after Sean Goulet's strip sack of Turner.
Without any ball-control offense, Chariho couldn't blank the Oakers for long. Another short punt allowed Coventry to drive 42 yards and score on Turner's 1-yard TD pass to Tommy Turner for a 19-0 lead late in the second.
Wotherspoon (15 carries, 20 yards) broke loose to a 37-yard run to the 15, but it was called back on an illegal block.
Chariho's defense played well in the second half, including an interception by Aidan Haxton, but its offense could not capitalize. Even a 65-yard kickoff return by Caleb Maggs to the 15 did not produce any points for Chariho.
Coventry put the game away on Zane Fratterelli's 20-yard field goal to make it, 22-0, with nine minutes left and Tommy Turner's 66-yard TD run with 3:44 to go. Coventry lineman Christian Lassahn blocked a punt through the end zone with two minutes left for a safety to complete the scoring.
"It was a good overall effort from us, considering we had a shakeup on the line," Goodheart said. "We had to replace our tight end and two linemen because of COVID-19 tracing issues even though they tested negative. Those are things that come into play now."