Duane Maranda

Maranda: Bulldogs "have to win those battles up front."

WESTERLY — Westerly High will be facing a familiar foe when it hosts Woonsocket in the Division II football quarterfinals Friday at 7 p.m.

It will be the second meeting between the two schools this season and the fourth in the last two seasons.

Westerly defeated the Villa Novans on the road, 21-18, on Sept. 28.

Westerly trailed twice in the game before finally prevailing when Rocco Cillino scored on a 66-yard run in the third quarter.

Cillino had a big game, finishing with 226 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.

Woonsocket outgained the Bulldogs, 285-228, but two turnovers and 138 yards in penalties hurt the Villa Novans.

Last season, in the first game between the two schools in Westerly, the Villa Novans had six turnovers and a punt blocked as the Bulldogs rolled to a 62-12 win.

Six weeks later, Woonsocket played better, made massive defensive adjustments and surprised the Bulldogs, 22-21, in the D-II semifinals. The Villa Novans went on to win the Super Bowl.

Westerly coach Duane Maranda hopes that same scenario does not unfold this season, but he does see some similarities.

"It's the same thing this year — they struggled early on, figured themselves out and gained some confidence," Maranda said.

After opening this season with four straight loss, three in the league, the Villa Novans have put together four straight wins.

The four defeats came against Division I St. Raphael (3-4), Lincoln (5-3), Westerly (5-2) and East Greenwich (8-0).

The wins have come against West Warwick (0-8), Johnston (2-5), Classical (2-5) and Rogers (4-4).

Woonsocket has a talented quarterback in 6-1, 230-pound senior Tarik O'Hagen. He rushed for 172 yards and scored three times against Westerly earlier this season.

"He's hard to stop for a 2- or 3-yard gain," Maranda said. "He has a strong arm and he can throw it deep. We will have to be very disciplined. We didn't tackle well the last time we played them. We have to do a better job."

Defensively, Maranda expects the Villa Novans to penetrate the backside gaps and other openings created when the Westerly linemen pull. Westerly will likely face a six- or seven-man defensive line.

Maranda said Bulldogs backs Aaron Perez and Xavier Ledbetter will be healthy this week. Perez saw limited time in last week's 14-13 loss to unbeaten Burrillville. Ledbetter was hurt late in the game and limited due to the injury.

He hopes their return will give Westerly more options when it has the ball.

"We have to give other teams a little more to think about," Maranda said. "We need to be a little more diverse.

"In the Burrillville game there were things we did well and things we didn't. If you don't get a body on a body, it's hard to be successful. We have to do that. It comes down to execution. We have to win those battles up front."

The winner will travel to unbeaten East Greenwich on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. for the semifinals.

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