WARWICK- Sometimes it can be beneficial to be challenged. Having cruised past nearly every one of their opponents this year, the Coventry Rams were put to the test on Saturday at Bishop Hendricken High School in their biggest game to date.
A talented Indians team from Watertown-Oakville, CT would give Coventry a run for their money, but in the end, the Rams were able to come out on top, prevailing by a 25-14 count to win the regional title for the second year in a row.
“Very special,” head coach Jay Pilderian said of his team’s accomplishment. 2018 will be Pilderian’s last year as the Rams’ head coach with his son Jay moving on to high school next year.
“The captains all year have been amazing, Eugene Wilson III, Jay Pilderian, Jesse Principe, Tyler Simon. They’re the heart and soul of this team and they just carried us through all year,” Pilderian said after the team’s win.
Trailing 14-13 at the half, the Rams found themselves in unfamiliar territory, but their coach wasn’t worried. If anything, he felt that the adversity may help them next time around.
“It’ll be good going into the national championship game,” he said. “We needed that. All year, we kind of rolled over teams.”
Midway through the third quarter, Coventry found themselves facing 4th and 5 from the Indians 19-yard line. Wilson III delivered in the clutch with the running back taking the ball 19 yards into the end zone for the score to put the Rams out in front, 19-14.
He would put the game to rest late in the fourth quarter on a 40-yard burst into the end zone, making it a two-score game with less than a minute to play. A successful onside kick by Coventry enabled them to take a pair of kneel downs before the clock ran out.
“That was a big, strong physical team. Give them a lot of credit,” Pilderian said of his team’s opponents.
He was most proud of the way his own players stepped up their defensive effort in the second half.
“We made a few adjustments at the half to stop their offense. They didn’t score any points in the second half. We had to make a few adjustments, the kids did it and it worked out,” he said.
Going forward, Coventry will find themselves embarking on a 13-hour bus ride to Michigan City, Indiana, the site of this year’s national title game.
As part of their fundraising efforts for the trip, the team will be hosting an event tonight at the Cozy Grill on Tiogue Avenue from 5:30-8 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.