In the fall of 1886, a squad of boys from Westerly High School took the field to play a game of football against a local team. Beyond this fact, very little is known about the first football team to represent Westerly High School.  What is known is that the team must have disbanded at some point before 1893, because that fall, the Westerly Sun, in describing a newly created Westerly High School team, claimed that it was the unit’s first season.  The following article, a transcribed version of a presentation delivered before the Westerly Historical Society on September 29, 2019, chronicles the history of football at Westerly High School from 1893 through 2018.
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Over the course of their 125-year history, the Westerly High School football team, originally known simply as the “Blue and White,” has seen a great deal of success on the gridiron. The team has won ten or more games on eight occasions, the same number of undefeated seasons they have achieved.  Additionally, Westerly has won sixteen State Championships* In order to showcase the wide span of the Bulldogs’ success, some of the most notable periods in the history of Westerly’s football team will be discussed below.
1893-1900: The Beginning of a Legacy
On October 20, 1893, a group of young men from Westerly High School took to a makeshift field on the Moss Street Grounds (home to the William Clark Thread Mill) in Pawcatuck where they would defeat a visiting team from Mystic by a score of 18-0.  This accounts for the first game played by a team from Westerly High School in which the score is known. The second game of that season was against the Rhode Island School of Agriculture Aggies (later known as the University of Rhode Island Rams) in Kingston.
Westerly would fall to the Aggies, 6-4, but would avenge this loss later in the season when they defeated the college squad by a score of 16-8. This result was not without controversy, however, as the Aggies protested a referee’s call in the fourth quarter and refused to finish the game out of protest. However, The score stood, and the game was considered official.
Between 1893 and 1908, the Westerly High School team played against several local college units including Bryant and Stratton College (later known as Bryant University), Brown University, and the Westerly Business College. On Thanksgiving morning in 1893, Westerly battled Providence High School to a 10-10 tie in a game played on the Beach Street Grounds. The game was apparently quite popular, as an advertisement published prior to the game notes that “large teams leave Dixon House Square for the grounds at 9:45” indicating that attendance was high enough to warrant mass transportation to the field. 
In 1895, the Westerly boys found a permanent home at Riverside Park, an aptly-named field located on Canal Street along the banks of the Pawcatuck River. Today, the field is home to National Grid. Westerly played their home games at Riverside Park from 1895 to 1905 and again from 1910 to 1922.  From 1905 to 1908, the team temporarily returned to the Beach Street Grounds and the school did not field a team in 1909.
In 1899 and 1900, Westerly won back to back Rhode Island State Championships compiling a record of 10-0-3 between the two seasons.  More impressively, the Westerly boys surrendered only 12 points in total between the thirteen games, while holding their opponents scoreless in eleven of those games. These seasons, capping off a successful stretch throughout the 19th century, represent one of the more successful eras in Westerly football history.
1917: A Season of Dominance
In 1917, the Westerly High School football team had perhaps its most all-around dominant season in their long history. From 1917 to 1933, the team was coached by Dwight Harold Rogers who ended his career as Westerly’s coach with a winning percentage of 0.622, making him one of the most successful coaches in Westerly’s history. The 1917 season began with a low-scoring affair when the high schoolers defeated a team of Westerly Alumni, 6-0. 
They then strung together wins with scores of 25-0, 22-0, and 20-0 against East Greenwich Academy, Bulkeley High School (New London) and Windham High School (Willimantic) respectively.  The only team to truly test the Bulldogs after those wins was the New London Vocational School which dropped a game to Westerly, 7-6. After winning a rematch against the vocational school, 20-0, Westerly went on to put up two of the most lopsided scores the school had ever seen before or since.
On November 9, 1917, the Bulldogs traveled to Providence to play a game against LaSalle Academy. The outcome of this contest was never in question. Westerly’s fullback, Wilcox, scored four touchdowns on the way to an 80-0 demolition of the Providence boys.  As if that victory was not enough of a statement, the Bulldogs followed it up with a one-sided game against Stonington at Riverside Park on November 16th. Calling this contest a beatdown would be an understatement. Westerly’s quarterback, Geoffrey Moore, scored seven touchdowns, while Wilcox put up four more.
At the time of the final whistle, the scoreboard read 122-0 in favor of Westerly.  It must be noted, however, that the Bears were severely undermanned, as most of their first-string players had left for military service in World War I, and as a result, Stonington stumbled their way through a challenging season. Westerly then played a much closer game against the alumni team on Thanksgiving, walking away with a 14-0 win.
By the end of the 1917 season, Westerly had racked up a number of records that are unlikely to be broken. They finished the season 9-0-0 and outscored their opponents by a total of 316-0. This was good for an average of 35.1 points per game, a strikingly high number even by today’s standards, but largely unheard of in 1917.
1944-1946: The Goose Runs Loose
After more than two decades of mixed results for the Bulldogs, the team found its footing and played fantastic football between 1944 and 1946. During this stretch, Westerly bulldozed their way to a record of 24-4-3 over three seasons.  The team’s success was at least partially due to the play of one of Westerly’s greatest talents in their illustrious history. In 1944, fullback John “Goose” Gentile, the leading scorer in the Southern Division of the Rhode Island Interscholastic Football League, was named to a Rhode Island First Team All-State selection. 
Prior to the start of the 1945 season, Gentile, along with several members of the Bulldogs football squad, were called to military service at the tail end of World War II. The Goose maintained a year of eligibility, however, and in 1946, he played even better than his stellar 1944 season. After scoring 18 touchdowns in 1946, including four in one game against North Providence, Gentile was again named to the First All-State team.  The 1946 season came to a close with Westerly collecting its second consecutive State Championship.
1964-1965: Augeri Leads the Bulldogs to the Promised Land
The 1964 season marked the beginning of perhaps the greatest coaching career in the history of Westerly High School. After a disappointing 1963 season in which the Bulldogs finished with an unimpressive 3-7 record, the school brought in a coach by the name of Sal Augeri. The Augeri name may sound familiar to many, as he is the namesake of the field where Westerly plays their home games today.
In his first three seasons at the helm for Westerly, Augeri led the team to a miraculous 24-2-2 record, including two consecutive seasons without a loss in 1965 and 1966.  From 1964 to 1966, Westerly won three straight State Championships. During the course of Augeri’s tenure (1964-1968, 1971-1976), the Bulldogs went 78-27-3. While the teams of the mid-1960s were incredibly impressive and brought the Bulldogs a well-deserved reputation for success, they were not the most dominant teams that Augeri put on the field.
1973-1974: The Glory Years
As hard as many found it to believe, the success of the Bulldogs in the mid-1960s was only the beginning. Between 1973 and 1974, Westerly did not lose a single game, earning a record of 23-0 over the two seasons.  Not only was Westerly winning their games, they were winning them handily. Over the course of both seasons, they outscored their opponents 855-120, scoring more than seven times the amount of points they surrendered.  For perspective, if Westerly gave up only one touchdown in every game they played, they would have won each game by a score of 49-7. In 1973, Westerly’s season was capped off with a thrilling 28-20 victory over the defending champions, Middletown, in the Division II Championship Game.
In 1974, the Bulldogs scored an average of 36 points per game while allowing their opponents to score only 6 per game.  Nine of Westerly’s twelve victories during that season were by at least three touchdowns and not a single official game was won by less than eight points. Unlike the 1973 Championship Game, in which Westerly played a close game, the outcome of the 1974 title game was never in doubt, as the Bulldogs rolled over Warren by a score of 39 to 14.  During this period, support for the team was very high, with games being broadcast live on the radio on 103.7 WERI, allowing fans across town to hear each and every game.
1984-1985: Defense Wins Championships
Interestingly, by the 1980’s, a pattern emerged in which the Bulldogs found their greatest success in the middle of each decade. Westerly won State Championships in 1935, 1945, 1946, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1973, and 1974. This trend would continue into the 1980’s. In 1984, the Bulldogs began the season with seven straight victories before dropping their final two games to East Greenwich and Stonington. Westerly would earn a chance at redemption, however, meeting East Greenwich in the Class B Championship Game. Vindication, would have to wait, however, as Westerly was handed a heart-breaking 13-6 loss. 
Westerly got their revenge the following season, defeating East Greenwich 7-6. That game was one of twelve victories that season, which saw the team go undefeated. Unlike the teams of the 1970’s which were driven by a high-scoring offense, it was the Westerly defense which often led the team to victory. Over a span of 12 games, the team allowed only 27 points to be scored against them, good for an average of 2.25 points per game.  In eight of their twelve wins, the Bulldogs did not allow a single point to their opponents. After a tight 7-0 victory over Stonington on Thanksgiving Day, Westerly finished off their perfect season with a thrilling 9-7 win over Coventry to claim the Class B State Championship. 
2000-2005: Piling up the Wins
Although Westerly fielded excellent teams during the 1990s, including championship teams in 1991 and 1996 in which the Bulldogs took down undefeated opponents to claim their division championships, the teams from 2000-2005 warrant a greater discussion. The first 6 seasons of the 21st century was the most successful half-decade in Westerly football history. During this stretch, the team went 58-16 and averaging just under 10 wins per season.
From 2000 to 2002, the Bulldogs would face off against another dynasty, West Warwick, in the Division II Superbowl. Westerly would go on to capture the championship in the first two meetings in 2000 and 2001 and they narrowly missed out on a third consecutive title when they dropped a tough loss to the Wizards, 9-7, in the 2002 matchup.  Despite finishing the seasons with 8-3 and 9-3 records in 2004 and 2005, the Bulldogs missed the playoffs both season. Westerly would not earn a postseason berth until 2011 when they lost in the Division II semi-finals to Central High School.
Today: Bulldogs on the Rise
The last several seasons have been marked by renewed success for Westerly including a 9-2 campaign in 2018. Westerly’s success can be at least partly attributed to their play at running back over the last two seasons. In 2017 and 2018, Tristan Turano had perhaps the greatest statistical seasons in Westerly High School history. During those two seasons, he racked up 4,038 rushing yards and scored 62 touchdowns. He also had 9 games in which he rushed for at least 200 yards.  With their recent success on the gridiron, there is every reason for fans to be optimistic about the future of Westerly High School football.