High schools: Fast start by St. Thomas sinks Kearsarge, 36-14
Kearsarge Regional High School quarterback makes a short pass during the Cougars football season opener against St. Thomas on September 6, 2013.
(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
Kearsarge Regional High School wide receiver Travis Newman gives up a fumble which was recovered by St. Thomas and taken back for their fourth touchdown in the first half of the Cougar's season opener on September 6, 2013.
(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
NORTH SUTTON – After losing 14 seniors and all of its top skill players from last year’s playoff team, and with its move up to Division II, Kearsarge expected to suffer through some growing pains this season. The Cougars just didn’t think the pains would strike so deep or so fast, or come from their own claws.
Visiting St. Thomas took advantage of some Kearsarge miscues to score three touchdowns in the final three minutes of the first half and rolled from there to a 36-14 season-opening win.
“I felt like most of the wounds tonight were self-inflicted,” Kearsarge Coach Zach Matthews said. “That’s not to take anything away from them, but we have a young group that’s learning what it takes to win football games right now and things just snowballed on us tonight. We’ll get it fixed.”
The first Cougar mistake came off the foot of Christian Marsh, though it was hard to tell at first. The senior connected on a high, 40-yard punt that would have been pretty except for one problem – it landed right in the arms of Jake Geppert. The Saints senior captain found a seam and was gone, bolting 70 yards for an 8-0 St. Thomas lead with 31 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We talked all week about not punting or kicking to (Geppert), and first punt, we kicked it right at him,” Matthews said.
St. Thomas upped that lead to 15-0 on a 51-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard scoring scramble from quarterback Trevor Martin (11 carries, 47 yards) with 2:55 to go in the half. Seven seconds later, the Cougars made their second big mistake, and the Saints pounced. After a blown assignment on the offensive line, Kearsarge quarterback Ryan Stanley took a hit as he threw a screen pass, the ball came wobbling out, and St. Thomas linebacker Ryan Bennett picked it off and went 15 yards the other way for a touchdown to make it 22-0.
Stanley (6-for-10, 67 yards) was trying to move his team in the final minute of the first half when the third costly mistake bit the Cougars. The junior quarterback had just completed a pass to Travis Newman, but he fumbled it away and Geppert was there to scoop it up and take it 45 yards for a score and a 29-0 lead with 2.8 seconds left before halftime.
“The punt return really sparked us,” St. Thomas Coach Eric Cumba said, “but when we had that 21-point swing with two minutes left in the half, that completely changed the complexion of the game.”
Geppert (seven carries, 64 yards) completed his personal scoring trifecta – special teams, defense and, finally, offense – when he ran one in from 8 yards out with 4:43 to go in the third to make it 36-0 and send the game into running time.
“He’s about as determined a kid as I’ve coached in the last five years,” Cumba said. “He’s been waiting for his turn for the last couple of years and he took advantage of it tonight, that’s for sure.”
The game was well out of reach by that point, but Kearsarge did respond to that score with its first touchdown of the game, and it did come against St. Thomas’s first-string defense. The Cougars went 80 yards in 11 balanced plays (seven run, four pass) and broke into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge from sophomore Riley Antle, who had a game-high 95 yards on 23 carries.
“Riley’s a good player and he ran hard, we’ve just got to do some more work to create more seams for him,” said Matthews, who added that he liked the grit his team showed in the game’s final stages.
“I told them I wanted to see some heart from them, and I thought they showed that to us,” the coach said. “We could have folded our tents and felt sorry for ourselves, but our kids kept working.”
They also added a second touchdown late in the fourth (this time against the Saints second string) when Antle went in from 1 yard out.
“All we’ve been asking of our kids is to get better each week, and I think we’re all going to keep working to get better and people won’t want to play us at the end of the year, but right now we’re just kind of getting experience on the job,” Matthews said. “These are growing pains, but we’ll work through it.”
Pembroke 36, Laconia 23
The Spartans (1-0) came back from a 23-10 halftime deficit to play spoiler and defeat Laconia (0-1) on the grand opening of its new field.
Adam Gelinas’s field goal was the only score for Pembroke in the first quarter, as the Spartans found themselves down 17-3. Vinny Dustin scored on a 16-yard run to put his team within a touchdown, but on the last play of the first half, Laconia executed a halfback pass that was tipped in the air and caught for a touchdown, putting the Sachems back up by two scores.
The second half was all Spartans. Dustin ran for 178 of his 233 yards in the second half and scored two more touchdowns. Dean Dustin (58 yards) and Zach Wiggin (100 yards) scored a touchdown apiece for Pembroke.
Mike Patnode and Shane Gillen dominated on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Merrimack Valley 3, Oyster River 1
Cassidy Huckins scored a goal assisted by Erin Frost to give the Pride (2-0) a 1-0 lead at halftime. Lily Davis put MV up 2-0 with a goal assisted by Huckins, and after Oyster River scored to get within one, Davis knocked in an insurance goal, assisted by Brit Fisher.
Olivia Thurber played a strong game at forward, helping to push the ball upfield. Maggie Carrie grabbed four saves, picking up the win in goal.
Coe-Brown 2, Merrimack Valley 1, OT
Coe-Brown (2-1) won in overtime on a penalty kick by Spencer Nowland, who drew the penalty and also scored the Bears’ opening goal in the first half.
The Pride (1-1) took charge in the second half and was able to tie the game with just more than 15 minutes remaining after Jarrett Davis beat the keeper near post from a cross by Adrian Bolte on the left flank.
Coe-Brown turned up the pressure in OT and capitalized after Nowland was fouled in the box.
MV goalie John Bailey made seven saves, and Coe-Brown excelled as a team defensively.
Pembroke 2, Souhegan 0
Pembroke’s defense made a pair of first-half goals stand as the Spartans improved to 2-0.
Aaron Locke got things started just six minutes in, and Parker Heath added an insurance marker in the 39th minute, off an assist from Spencer Nowe. Pembroke finished the shutout to drop Souhegan to 1-2.
Oyster River 1, John STark 0
John Stark (1-2) went toe to toe with Oyster River (2-0-1) for the duration of the game with both defenses playing well, but the Bobcats found a way to score with six minutes left to play. Stark had a few late chances, including a shot off the crossbar, but didn’t get an equalizer.
Generals goalkeeper Mike Prindiville was strong in net with 16 saves. Cam Williams, Jackson Easter and Derek Clark played well.
Bow 2, Bishop Brady 1, OT
The Falcons (3-0) finally broke through with 15 seconds left in the first overtime period as Corey Plumb notched his second of the game. Plumb received a through ball from Chris Ketchum on the right side and beat the keeper one on one. The winning goal was identical to the first Bow goal, also scored by Plumb and assisted by Ketchum.
Bishop Brady (1-2) had tied the score midway through the second half via Sam Earp, who finished off a nice passing move through the center of the midfield. Bow opened the scoring in the 43rd minute.
Timothy Bradley earned the win in net, while defender Nathan Louf, midfielder Sam Cheney and attacking mid Ketchum were solid for Bow.
Outside backs Coleman Riefke and Manish Giri played well for the Green Giants, and goalie Dylan Thomson made several quality saves to keep the game tied.
Hopkinton 3, Fall Mtn. 0
The Hawks (2-0) responded well to an extremely defensive Fall Mountain team (0-2-1), scoring twice in the first half and adding a third goal early in the second.
The Wildcats put 10 men behind the ball and packed their own end, but Hopkinton was able to break through in the 26th minute via Evan Ruderman, who had a nice 15-yard shot off a cross from Jacob Rockwood. It was 2-0 six minutes later, when Austin Brehio made a run into the box and passed to Rockwood, who tipped the ball on to Brian Hauschild for the finish. Hauschild went on to assist the third goal in the 44th minute after winning the ball in the center of the field and sending Zach Rouleau through on goal.
The defensive trio of Wes Rose, James McCluskey and Liam McNicholas was strong again, allowing only two shots on goal to help the team to a second straight shutout.
Epping 2, Pittsfield 1, OT
Pittsfield (1-1) lost on the road in overtime despite having multiple opportunities to break a 1-1 deadlock.
The Panthers went ahead with a 58th-minute goal by Ryan Marquis from Max Tuttle. Epping (2-0) responded four minutes later to tie it before winning the game 14 minutes into overtime.
Pittsfield hit the crossbar twice and the goalposts twice with shots. Goalie Colby Clark made six saves.
Concord Christian 0, Sunapee 0
Neither team was able to put the ball past the opposing goalie, with Jeremiah Boulter tallying the shutout for Concord Christian with 10 saves.
Midway through the second half, Eli Christensen ripped a shot from about 25 yards that hit the post twice, only to bounce out. Ryan Ober, playing at the outside mid position, had another great opportunity to score from about 10 yards out but just missed over the crossbar.
Joe Campbell and Quinn McLaughlin played outstanding defense, Ober and Christensen stepped it up in the midfield, and Jonathan Taylor played well up front.
John Stark 1, Oyster River 0
The game remained scoreless through the first half, but the Generals tallied a goal 30 minutes into the second half on a through pass from Brooke Shatney, and Meg Gordan outmuscled the goalie to break the tie.
Jordan Shatney, Bri Legrand and Keirsten Tower played well in the midfield, creating many scoring opportunities. Chloe Loos anchored the defense of Liz Neal, Liz Brandt and Nicole Beeso. Maddison Janelle recorded the shutout in net.
Souhegan 2, Pembroke 1, OT
The Spartans (0-2) fell in overtime on the road but performed well against a Souhegan team (2-0) that was Division II runner-up last season.
After an early goal by the Sabers, Pembroke tied the score with 12 minutes left in regulation.
Goalie Kristin Kezar made 20 saves for the Spartans.
Bow 2, Bishop Brady 0
After a scoreless first half, Lauren Scarpetti put the Falcons on the board with a goal assisted by Caitlyn Keenan in the 58th minute. A late goal on a free kick by Sarah Carlson insured the win for Bow (3-0).
Janna Corsetti recorded the shutout, while Naomi Kramer, Lindsey Vogt and Taylor Morrison dominated the midfield, connecting on passes that allowed Bow to control the tempo of the game.
Taylor Fortin and Meghan Kissinger displayed a solid effort in the midfield for Bishop Brady (1-2), while Becca Olson led the defensive effort.
Belmont 8, Kingswood 0
The Red Raiders scored early and often, dominating Kingswood to remain undefeated at 3-0.
Cassie Contigiani (four goals, two assists), Emily Ennis (two goals, two assists) and Makayla Donovan (two goals, one assist) sparked the offense. Kylie O’Connell and Kelsey Scott each added an assist. Kaitlyn Berry picked up the shutout in net, and Hailey Clough played a solid all-around game in midfield.
Hopkinton 2, Campbell 2
The Hawks (0-1-1) and the Cougars (2-0-1) battled to a draw after two overtime periods.
Courtney Benson opened the scoring eight minutes into the second half on a free kick from outside the 18-yard box. After Campbell responded with a goal midway through the half, Lily Scammon scored off a Benson cross with 13 minutes to play, but Campbell answered again one minute later on a breakaway.
Aaliyah Curley and Meg Hemmerlein played well defensively, and Kelly Scammon controlled the midfield. Goalie Kacey Smith made 17 saves.
Pittsfield 2, Epping 1, OT
Stefani Gauthier scored off an assist by Morgan Corliss to give Pittsfield (2-0) a home overtime win over Epping (1-2).
The Blue Devils got an early goal two minutes into the game, but the Panthers started to dominate play throughout the first half, which finally paid off in the 54th minute when freshman Jordyn Pinto finished off a Brooke Vien cross.
Epping’s goalie kept the Blue Devils in the game before Gauthier won it for Pittsfield four minutes into OT.
Gabby Bartlett starred in midfield for the Panthers, and goalie Kaylee Morel made seven saves.
Sunapee 4, Concord Christian 0
Concord Christian (0-3) held Sunapee (2-0) to a single first-half goal, but the Lakers proved too much in the second half, despite a great effort from Kingsman goalie Morgan Draus.
Concord 3, Nashua South 0
Concord (1-0) started its season in solid fashion, sweeping Nashua South (0-1), 25-10, 25-20, 25-22.
The Crimson Tide was led by senior captains Claire Celestin (six kills) and Alison Quinn, who delivered solid passing and flawless serving. Freshmen Lauren Hatch (10 kills, six blocks) and Caitlyn Shea (17 assists) also played well.
Belmont 3, Mascoma 0
Belmont started the season off right, sweeping Mascoma (0-1) in its opener, 25-10, 25-8, 25-4.
Megan Bailey led the Red Raiders with 14 aces and 14 assists. Alex Lugar tallied six aces, Alyssa Woods had five kills, and Louisa Bergeron added four kills.
Winnisquam 3, Pittsfield 1
The Bears (1-0) came out flat, losing the first game, 25-19, but recovered to win the next three, 25-12, 25-8, 25-15.
Hannah Chapin led the way for Winnisquam with 13 kills, 11 digs and three aces, while Carissa Archibald added 14 digs, five kills and two aces. Dallis Austin (14 assists, three aces), Erica Doubleday (20 assists), Clarissa McDonald (10 digs) and Bailey Long (nine kills, two blocks) also played well for the Bears.