Defense dominates as Bow football team cruises into D-III championship game
Bow senior Alexander Reitze works his way around Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough's Dylan Sheehan during the Division III semifinals yesterday. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Bow senior Derek Polish hands the ball off to sophomore Christopher Robbins during the NHIAA Division III semi-final game against Inter Lakes at Bow High School on Saturday, November 16, 2013. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Bow junior Matt Erhrenberg makes some yardage during the Division III semifinals against Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough at Bow High yesterday. The Falcons won, 42-0, to advance to the championship game against Stevens. (Alan MacRae / For the Monitor)
BOW – It was the first football playoff game ever held at Bow High School, and the Falcons got greedy with that history.
“For the first playoff game at home we wanted a shutout,” senior captain Mike Johnson said, “and we got it.”
Top-seeded Bow (9-1) has now posted four shutouts this year, but none were more important than yesterday’s 42-0 Division III semifinal win against No. 4 Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough. The Falcons led 14-0 after one quarter, 28-0 at the half and sent the game into running time early in the fourth. Bow will now host No. 2 Stevens (8-2) on Saturday in the final.
“Having a championship game at home is incredible, and we’re going to pull out all the stops for that one,” Johnson said. “Stevens is a good team, so it’s going to be a hard game, probably a lot harder than this one.”
The Falcons also shut out Inter-Lakes on Oct. 12, 33-0, and the Lakers (5-5) didn’t fare much better in the rematch. They gained just 107 total yards, including 33 rushing yards on 29 attempts, a 1.1 yards per carry average. Inter-Lakes crossed the 50 yard line on only two possessions and had the same number of punts (six) as first downs.
Much of the domination started with Bow’s defensive line, and that line starts with senior defensive tackle Teddy Nappen. Falcon players and coaches can often be heard yelling from the sideline, “Teddy, smash!” and more often than not the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Nappen follows that simple directive.
“You just tell him, ‘Teddy, go find the ball and Teddy smash,’ and that’s what he does,” said Johnson, who plays on the line next to Nappen. “I don’t want to put it this way, but he’s pretty much our defensive line; he’s a hell of a player.”
Nappen does, of course, have plenty of help on the line, starting with junior Tucker Johnson, who rotated between tackle and end and finished with two tackles for a loss.
“Tucker is our utility lineman on both sides of the ball and he’s really come into his own this year,” Bow Coach Paul Cohen said. “When we needed him to make some big plays, he was able to produce.”
Junior end Alec Tellifson (one tackle for a loss), freshman end Nate Alford (tackle for a loss, sack, forced fumble) and tackle Mike Johnson make up the rest of the d-line.
“The front four (Alford and Mike Johnson platooned) has been known, probably since week three, as a force to be reckoned with in this division and they proved that over and over again,” Cohen said. “They really needed to put it all together today, and when it came to crunch time I knew I could count on those guys and they got it done in a real big way.”
If the line happened to miss something, the Falcons linebackers – Kyle Milne (two tackles for a loss), Dwight Alford, Chris Robbins and Travis Reynolds – were there to clean things up.
“I think today the defensive line really put it together as a unit, but the whole team played great,” Tucker Johnson said. “Our secondary, the linebackers, I give credit to everybody else.”
Bow’s defense, and special teams, kept giving the offense great field position, and the offense took advantage. The Falcons got the ball on the Inter-Lakes 45 on their second possession of the game and covered that ground in three quick plays to take a 7-0 lead after an 8-yard scoring run from Matt Ehrenberg (14 carries, 42 yards, four touchdowns) with 7:56 left in the first quarter.
The ensuing kickoff was short (not by design) and Bow sophomore Gavin Lacourciere recovered it at the Lakers 25. It took the Falcons four plays (including a 24-yard, toe-dragging sideline catch from Reynolds on third-and-10) to score from there and build a 14-0 lead on a 1-yard Ehrenberg touchdown plunge with 6:30 remaining in the first.
Bow’s next scoring drive began at the Inter-Lakes 41 and ended with a 10-yard rush from Robbins (six carries, 56 yards) in the middle of the second quarter. And the fourth scoring drive of the first half started at the Lakers 32 and finished with a 2-yard touchdown run by Ehrenberg to make it 28-0 with only 42.5 seconds left before halftime.
The Falcons didn’t score in the third, but they didn’t need to. They already had the game, and the Lakers, under their thumb.
“By the third quarter they started to fight with each other, and they started to get chippy with us,” Mike Johnson said. “So you could tell by the third quarter, that’s when the starters started hanging their heads, and you know you’ve won the game then.”
Ehrenberg and Jason Smick added touchdown runs in the fourth, but it was Alex Reitze who finished as Bow’s leading rusher. The senior missed the first five weeks of the season with appendicitis, but he made up for much of that lost time with 98 yards on 14 carries yesterday.
“Coach always tells us to play like it’s your last play, and that’s what I tried to do today,” Reitze said. “But that wasn’t just me, that was the whole team.”
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)