WEST WARWICK — Through the first two games of the young football season it appears North Kingstown is finally buying what coach Joe Gilmartin has been selling them since the start of last season, while West Warwick still hasn’t heeded the words of coach Shane Lagor.
The Wizards, who came into the season with Super Bowl dreams dancing in their heads, couldn’t score a touchdown in either of its overtime opportunities, while North Kingstown finally made the most of its chances in the second overtime.
NK running back Nick Chevalier scored a one-yard touchdown in the second overtime to lead the Skippers to a statement victory – a 28-22 double-overtime road win over the Wizards to start the Division II-A season.
“This is one step in a long road,” the pragmatic Gilmartin said after the Skippers won just one league game in the previous four seasons. “Hopefully this is not where we’re going to finish the year. For a team that didn’t know how to win for a long time, hopefully that helps you understand how to win a little bit.”
West Warwick (0-2, 0-1 Division II-A) has done plenty of winning over the last few seasons and they were expected to do so again this year with plenty of skill players returning. That simply hasn’t been the case in the first two weeks against Division I South Kingstown and Saturday against the improving Skippers.
Lagor said the Wizards practiced well in preparation for Saturday’s game, but he said the team’s mentality needs to change heading into what has quickly become an important game against fellow winless side St. Raphael Friday night in Pawtucket.
“We have to go back to work,” Lagor said. “They’re going to see the film and see these mental mistakes and breakdowns that we have. We’re going to point it out to them and we’re not going to hold back. We’ve got to get better.”
What makes the win all the more impressive for North Kingstown (2-0, 1-0 Division II-A) was the fact they had to play the second half and both overtimes without the services of starting quarterback Matthew Deignan, who suffered a vicious hit on a two-yard quarterback draw at the end of the first half.
Deignan, who threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Huntington for North’s only score of the first half, threw one more pass, but he was replaced by Matt Madoian in the second half.
“We take a lot of time to prepare a lot of people to play,” Gilmartin said. “We’ve got 100 kids in our program and we try to get all of them quality reps as often as we can. Madoian’s always ready.”
As poorly as they played, the Wizards still had a chance to steal the home win after Chevalier tied the game on a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:45 remaining. Huntington added the two-point conversion to square the game at 22.
West Warwick methodically drove the ball down the field and earned a first down at the North 14. West Warwick eventually moved the ball to the 5, but a fourth-down pass to Trevor Lawton went incomplete.
“Our problem was we got down in the red zone and we had three opportunities to score and three separate times on fourth down we didn’t set up right,” Lagor said. “I take the blame for that. That’s on me. We didn’t execute when we needed to with the game on the line.”
The Wizards appeared to regain control of the game when North couldn’t score in overtime to give the Wizards the ball at the 10. The Wizards went back two yards on their possession and because of the rules in overtime, the Wizards were forced to go on offense to start the second overtime.
North Kingstown made another defensive stand before Chevalier finished up his solid day with a two-yard score to clinch the game. The senior carried the ball nine times in the fourth quarter and two overtimes and scored a pair of touchdowns.
“The feeling on the sideline was that we weren’t going to lose,” Gilmartin said. “It would’ve been an unbelievable shock if we did not get that done.”
The Skippers were the better team in the opening half, but they could only muster a Huntington touchdown catch and a Corey Coogan two-point conversion. The Wizards went into halftime tied following the first of Kody Greenhalgh’s three touchdown passes, a 20-yard strike to Lawton.
Just 63 seconds into the second half All-State running back Austin Paygai, who was plagued by leg cramps late in the game, caught a 63-yard touchdown pass to open up a 14-8 lead.
Coogan, who rushed for 115 yards in the second half and overtime, tied the game with a 33-yard run early in the fourth quarter. West Warwick took the lead again on Greenhalgh’s third touchdown of the day midway through the quarter.
Despite the loss, Lagor was heartened by the play of sophomore defensive back David LaMountain, who picked off three passes and broke up two more.
“Hopefully some guys took notes from a sophomore,” Lagor said. “It’s attack, attack, attack. Dave’s a football player. What we saw from him today is not a shock. This is what we expect from him.”
Chevalier, thanks to a nifty halfback pass to Huntington on the two-point conversion, tied the game with 2:45 left. And he won the game later in the afternoon on a two-yard touchdown run.
“This is a credit to them because they are working hard,” Gilmartin said. “We have a ton of mistakes to fix and that’s a good thing.”