WOOD RIVER JCT. — Whispers of Jim Mora’s “Playoffs?” rant reverberated around Chariho High’s football field during the Chargers’ 45-0 crossover win against Exeter-West Greenwich/Prout on Friday.
You’d probably guess wrong if you had to pick which team, both of whom have 2-3 records during RIIL’s special spring season, was playoff bound.
It’s not the team that dominated the game from start to finish. EWG-Prout has actually qualified for the postseason in Division IV. Chariho’s season in Division III, meanwhile, is over. But a strong finish has the Chargers looking ahead to a bright future.
Chariho played an excellent second half in a 36-26 loss to Classical before blanking Tiverton, 53-0, and EWG/Prout the last two weeks.
“We flipped the switch,” Chariho coach Nick Russo said. “We’ve been on a roll, starting with the 29-0 comeback against Classical. In a normal year, it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. This spring is what it is, but the last half of this year is a great way to springboard into next fall.”
Dan O’Horo’s 27 yard field goal, set up by Caleb Maggs’ 42-yard punt return early in the first quarter, started the onslaught innocently enough.
Chariho steamrolled thereafter behind the arm of Zoot Boschwitz. The junior quarterback threw TDs of 62 yards to Colin Fitts, and 11 and 51 yards to Nekoda Thompson in the first half. Add scoring runs of 2 and 8 yards by Rogan Wotherspoon, and Chariho took a 38-0 halftime lead against a team going to the “Playoffs?”
EWG-Prout rested six starters, although it started its quarterback and top offensive weapon in back Hunter Mumford. Maggs’ punt return, Chris Bliven’s interception and Boschwitz’s overall execution, which included a 62-yard pass to Fitts to set up a score, spiraled the game out of control.
“With the playoffs next week and down six banged-up starters, our philosophy was to get younger kids experience,” EWG-Prout coach Cliff Fortin said. “Chariho got off to such a good start, and we had a feeling this could a struggle. When the game got out of hand ... it is what it is.”
The second half featured a running clock and one score — Boschwitz’s 3-yard run. EWG-Prout’s Todd Schofield broke free for a 78-yard run but was tackled inside the 10 in the fourth quarter on a drive that ended with a fumble to preserve the shutout.
Chariho loses nine key seniors, including Wotherspoon, who rushed for 76 yards and finished with nearly 400 in five games. Bliven and strong two-way lineman Josh Pater are other significant graduation losses.
But the Chargers will return Boschwitz and all their top receivers (Maggs, Fitts, Thompson and Jaxson Morkis) as Russo enters his third season.
“We’re excited about next year with all of these weapons back,” said Maggs, a sophomore. “Coach Russo has changed the culture here. We took too long to get going this year, but coming back from 29-20 against Classical to make it 29-26 showed we found ourselves. This is something we can build off of.”