PROVIDENCE—It wasn’t 62 points, but the Exeter-West Greenwich football team very well could have scored that many if it had so desired.
The Scarlet Knights – who played up at Division I Cranston East and Division III East Greenwich in their two preseason contests – rolled over the Providence Country Day/Wheeler/Juanita Sanchez Co-op 35-14 in their league opener Saturday afternoon at Conley Stadium.
Last season EWG scored 62 points in its season opener against PCD but against a rebuilding Providence Knights squad the Scarlet Knights pulled back the reigns by the midpoint of the second quarter.
“We just tried playing fundamental football,” EWG quarterback Jacob Hornoff said. “We didn’t want anyone getting hurt so that’s why we started subbing people in.”
Exeter started off the game by getting two long scoring drives – capped off by a six-yard run from Dwight Anderson and a three-yard run from Matt Ricard – and Ryan Ricard then blocked a PCD punt, returning it 15 yards for a touchdown.
On their third possession – after an interception by Dustin VanLuven – the Scarlet Knights scored on just one play as Hornoff found wide receiver Ian Geyer down the right sideline for a 37-yard touchdown pass to increase the lead to 28-0 with a little less than nine minutes to go in the second quarter.
By that point the focus became less about putting up points and more about sticking to the basics and staying healthy.
“When the game’s done it’s done and it was a great opportunity to get younger guys in there and get some of the dinged up players out before an injury goes from bad to worse,” EWG coach Jim Alves said.
“There are a lot of things we practiced and were ready to do today but we’re just going to hold those cards close to our chest. …It was important to get the continuity and timing down to run the football with the first string.”
Exeter-West Greenwich maintained its 28-0 lead until the final minute of the third quarter when PCD’s Komotay Koffie broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run
The Scarlet Knights answered two minutes later when Dwight Anderson scored on a 46-yard touchdown run and from there it was a battle between EWG’s junior varsity and PCD’s varsity.
Overall it was a good debut for Geyer, who after playing soccer for the last three years elected to give football a shot this fall.
“We’re transforming him,” Hornoff said. “He wanted to come out this year and just give it a shot.”
“It’s good. I’ve been excited to play and it’s good to finally get out here in a regular season game and prove myself,” Geyer said. “It’s always something I wanted to try and I just feel that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself had I played soccer because I would have just regretted my decision.
“Me and Jacob have been working in the offseason, trying to get our routes down and build some chemistry so we’ve been doing a good job working hard and it’s paying off.”
Geyer connected on all five extra points, came up just short on two field goals a shade over 40 yards and consistently pinned PCD deep in its own zone on all punts and kick offs.
“People don’t realize the importance of kicking in a game unless they either are a kicker or they were a kicker,” Alves said. “It’s a very integral part of the game, especially the punting because you’re usually in a bad situation when you’re deciding to punt the football.
“For kickoffs and where you position other teams – especially reaching the end zone with an automatic start at the 20 – most high school games I’ll be honest with you a kid will take it out to at least the 35 or 40-yard line every single time, every single game it doesn’t matter who has what for a record so it’s a big addition.”
While Exeter-West Greenwich had an easy time its season opener it can expect much more of a challenge this week.
The Scarlet Knights will face North Smithfield – who is fresh off a 37-12 drubbing of Hope – Saturday at 2 p.m. in their home opener.
“It’s going to be a really hard week of practice,” Alves said. “A lot more focus, a lot more intensity and a huge, huge division opponent.”