Thursday, July 23, 2009

BG/Winnacunnet Game Story and Thoughts on Salem Win

Just finished writing my game story for today's D-II title game between BG and Winnacunnet. Here it is:

Mike Kelly scored three touchdowns, and the Bishop Guertin Cardinals won their fifth Division II title in the last six years, defeating Winnacunnet 31-0 on Saturday at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. Kelly, who sat out last week’s D-II semi-final game against Alvirne, scored a touchdown on a run, on a catch, and also on a punt return. This, however, was a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.

The game was scoreless at the end of the first quarter of play. Winnacunnet had two good scoring chances in the first frame, with the first coming on the game’s initial drive. It was fourth down and five on the BG 35 yard line. Rather than going for it, the Warriors elected to punt the ball away. Their other scoring chance came two possessions later. This time it was third down and eight for Coach Auffant’s squad at the Guertin 43. Winnacunnet receiver Harry Knowles ran a slant pattern, was wide open. Quarterback Steve Cronan hit him right in the hands, but Knowles dropped the ball, and the Warrior’s chance at a 6-0 lead.

The Cardinals also had a pair of first half scoring chances that didn’t come to fruition. On their first drive, following a 30 yard catch by Kelly, Winnacunnet forced and then recovered the fumble on their own 35 yard line. Two possessions later, early in the second quarter, BG once again coughed up the football. Senior running back Adam Hall, ran for a 17 yard gain, then fumbled the ball. It was recovered by Mike Trainor for Winnacunnet.

It remained scoreless until just 2:51 were left in the second quarter. That’s when Cardinals quarterback Steve Cuipa found Kelly sprinting downfield for a 46 yard touchdown pass. The extra point was good by junior kicker Ryan Card, and it was 7-0 Bishop Guertin.

In the last two minutes of the first half, Winnacunnet was only down one score and must have been feeling pretty good. They were lining up to punt the ball away on their own 30 with about a minute left. But the snap went over the head of the Warrior’s punter, and the fumble was recovered by Guertin on the Winnacunnet 26. With 47.8 seconds to go second quarter, Card drilled a 39 yard field goal to make it 10-0, and a two score lead at the half for the Cardinals.

It was a hard fought first half, for both squads. “We were lucky to be up 10-0 at halftime,” said Bishop Guertin Head Coach Tony Johnson. “This game was much more difficult than the score indicates.”

In the third quarter, the Warriors once again turned the ball over deep in their own end. On an option play, Cronan ran the ball up the middle. After gaining three yards, he fumbled the ball and BG recovered it on the Winnacunnet 20 yard line. Two plays later Kelley took the handoff from Cuipa and ran it in 20 yards for the score and it was 17-0 Cardinals with seven minutes to play in the third frame.

On the ensuing drive, Kelly made yet another big play for Bishop Guertin. Winnacunnet punted the ball away deep in their own territory. Kelley then took the punt return 60 yards for the touchdown, and his third score of the ballgame. It was now 24-0 BG with 5:01 left in the third.

The next possession was the Warrior’s last chance to make it a ballgame. They were on their own 19 yard line, but Cronan threw a deep ball intended for Knowles. He had open field in front of him, and it would have likely been an 81 yard touchdown catch, but once again the ball went through his hands incomplete. The possession resulted in yet another punt for Winnacunnet.

“Those are balls that he has been catching all year long for us,” said Warriors Head Coach Ron Auffant.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Guertin put the nail in the Winnacunnet coffin. Following a turnover on downs by the Warriors, which gave BG possession on their own 47, Hall carried the ball 38 yards for the touchdown. He was hit by a Warrior defender near the line of scrimmage, but made a nifty spin move off of it and then ran it in for the TD. He finished the game with 141 rushing yards on 18 carries. The majority of that work came in the first half, when he had 16 carries for 103 yards. That made it a 31-0 game with 10:08 left in the fourth quarter.

Kelly’s huge game is even more impressive, because of his health. Not only did he not play last week vs. Alvirne due to a sore ankle, but up until a couple days ago his status for this game was still up in the air.

“He’s a threat to score every single time,” Coach Johnson remarked. “On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I didn’t think we would have him back for this game.”

It was a tough game for Cronan and the Winnacunnet offense. Cronan managed to run for just -2 yards and only passed for 40 yards. One bright spot was senior running back Jason Busfield, who had 56 rushing yards on 11 carries, including a 30 yard run in the first half. This is a Warrior offense however, that averages over 30 points per game on the season. So the fact that they were held scoreless is a big deal.

“Their defensive front against out offensive line was the biggest problem,” explained Auffant.

Still, Winnacunnet has to be happy with their season, and their 8-4 overall record. They earned one of the program’s biggest wins last week, by defeating Exeter 17-10 in the semi-finals.

Bishop Guertin meanwhile, finishes the season 12-0 and wins their second D-II title in a row and fifth championship in the last six years. But according to Coach Johnson, this year’s squad is as good as it gets.

“This year’s team is the best team I’ve ever coached,” he proudly admitted after the game.

It would be very difficult for anyone to argue with that statement.


Scoring Summary:
Second Quarter
BG — Mike Kelly 46 pass from Steve Cuipa (Ryan Card kick), 2:51
BG — Card 39 FG, 47.8
Third Quarter
BG — Kelly 20 run, (Card kick), 7:00
BG — Kelly 60 punt return, (Card kick), 5:01
Fourth Quarter
BG — Hall 38 run, (Card kick), 10:08


RUSHING: BG — Adam Hall 18-141, Mike Kelly 1-20, Nick Phillips 5-15, Steve Cuipa 2-7 Tom Barrile 1-4. W – Jason Busfield 11-56, Bret Taylor 2-9, Steve Cronan 7- -2
PASSING: BG — Cuipa 3-7 89, 1-0. Cronan 7-13 40, 0-0.
RECEIVING: BG— Kelley 2-81, Scott St. Lawrence 1-8. W – Harry Knowles 2-14, Busfield 3-13, Jesse Gould 2-13.


Congrats to Salem and Inter-Lakes for winning D-I and D-VI, respectively. From the sounds of it, the Salem/North game was a thriller. Would have been nice to have that game and the D-II game played back to back and on a neutral field so fans could see both on the same day. Clearly Salem, North and Central are all excellent teams and VERY close as far as how good they are. And fans can only speculate about how each of those three teams would do against BG. And I know BG played Central and Salem in scrimmages, but c'mon people. They were just scrimmages and they were a LONG time ago.

Oh yeah, and back to the BG/Winnacunnet game again for just a second. I said earlier in the week that BG was not a disciplined team and got some flack for it. This afternoon BG had eight penalties, six in the first half. And after one of those penalties, I couldn't help but chuckle when one of the BG assistant coaches said, "We're not disciplined." I'm not sayin'...I'm just sayin'.

Feel free to discuss either game in here, folks.


  1. Great job Bg, now on to basketball!!!!!

  2. Winny matches up well with BG because they have nearly comparable speed, the one thing that Exeter definitely didn't have this year. I"m really hoping that Exeter and Winny have the same open date next year so there can be a crossover game. If the NHIAA scheduling gods are listening, how about it?
    Good fight Winny.

  3. Great job Winny coaching staff and players! You game planned well and played hard. Easily the best, hardest hitting team BG faced all year. I heard this numerous times from BG supporters throughout the day.

    Jeremy, you are right, BG did start to get flagged a lot toward the end of the year. This was not the case in the first half of the season. Regarding yesterday, BG 11 and Winny 8...also, I thought the refs were being a little over cautious due to the hard hitting and personal fouls in the 3rd Q. What do you think?

    Also, I thought the team defense and hitting yesterday by both teams was great. Swarming to the ball, stripping the ball, playing to the whistle, etc. It's obvious both teams are well coached on defense - In my opinion they play the "right" way.

    One final note - I watched Salem vs. North on Comcast light night. I think BG beats those teams due to its defense.

    Thanks for everything Jeremy - you do great work!

  4. Ho Hum, BG! The better game was North/Salem

  5. BG had thier chance to move up to play great games like the Salem/Nashua North game practically every week and chickened out. Too bad, I'm sure the BG players would have liked it. Now they spend the season blowing out Div 2 teams and earning a another hollow title. Taking a Div 1 title next year would have silenced all BG critics. The BG administration blew that call.

  6. Saying BG beats Salem or North is as meaningless as saying the the Rams beat the Pats in our first Superbowl win or the Pats beat Giants in our last Superbowl loss. The numbers back up the statements, but the game still needs to be played.

  7. except those two statements are just false rather than hypothetical so no your wrong.
    you could say team X could beat team Y for any matchup that hasnt been played, but you also cant disprove it like a game that already happened

  8. All championship teams congrats great seasons. Cronin can Cuipa are going to be fun to watch going at it next year most likely. Both teams played hard but in reality BG's defense just overwhelmed the Warrios just like they did every other team. Bg offense struggled at times due to penalties, but we all knew all along their strongsuit is defense. Great job both sides it was a tough, yet very cleanly played game for both sides

  9. Jeremy I just fail to understand how a team can go 12-0 and be undisciplined... the players and coaches are obviously doing something right... right?
    i respect your analysis but i think Bg has a lot of pretty rediculous calls on them and most legit penalties are a result of just going balls out all the time. (forgive my language please)

  10. 11:28, in my above post I quoted one of the BG assistant coaches who actually said the words, "We are not disciplined." He said these words during yesterdays game, with me standing right there next to him. BG was dominant againt every team they faced this year in all facets of the game. But if they had a weakness, that was it.

  11. There is no doubt that BG is a great team. It is nauseating to read about "what ifs." It is equally nauseating to read your nasty comments about North/South. Hopefully you didn't learn to be so obnoxious at BG.

  12. how about when cronan faked to winnys running back busfield up the middle and took it outside broke a tackle and was on his way to a 40-50 yd touchdown run... but the ref thought the ball was down at the line with busfield and they had to re-do the down

  13. Anon @ 3:13. The Guertin safety was there, he held up because he heard the whistle blow

  14. Jeremy I just fail to understand how a team can go 12-0 and be undisciplined... the players and coaches are obviously doing something right... right?

    You don't need to be all that disciplined to beat lesser competition. The two Div 1 teams that they played were a combined 10W-10L. Not exactly great teams this year. I understand that you must play who they put in front of you, unfortunately, no one was put in front of them. BG is a great Div2 NH team, possibly the greatest of all time.

  15. The BG safety was not only there, he had him lined up and was going to drill him.

  16. How did BG do against Winny yesterday?

  17. 4:08, BG only played one D-I team this season. That was Pinkerton. They played others in scrimmages but only one in a real game.

  18. Isn't Catholic Memorial out of Mass the equivalent of Div 1?

  19. yeah i guess going 12-0 doesnt count because it was D2. they might as well have lost every game this year i see no respect here.
    might as well not have had any of those scrimmages with the D1 schools, (all of which completely one sided). Those dont count for anything because the D1 schools werent trying or something. and BG was probably trying much harder.
    no matter what this team does there is some excuse or explanation from all the pathetic sore losers from D1.
    the excuses are the reason why you lose, and BG wins

  20. 9:42 litte harsh but your on the right track

    Realistically D1 and D2 this year werent all that different. D1 basically had two Spauldings (west and Concord). The top few teams might be a little better but based on North and Salem's performances against D2 teams (Timberlane and Merrimack two bad D2 teams) they really are not that far ahead of the pack. We know what BG did to the next two teams Pinkerton and Central that turned out ugly. then the mid level teams are no better than a dover or Timberlane as Salem graciously demonstrated. Winnacunet could have given any D1 a game just like Exeter. And Alvirne would hang tough like the mid level D1 teams.
    So the difference seems to me to be completely opinionated with no actual backing.
    on an average year yes D1 is better than D2 but this year i just dont see anything to make me say definitively yes D1 is the stronger Division
    thoughts Jeremy??

  21. The difference isn't huge, but I do think D-I was slightly better this year. The big thing that D-II has is BG. They were just so dominant, clearly the top team in the state. Like you said, D-I had two Spauldings, and you could argue they had 3 Spauldings with Memorial. But if you just look at the top 6 teams in D-I, I think all 6 of them would have been playoff teams in D-II, all 6 are definitely better than Alvirne. Let's not forget that Alvirne lost to A LOT. And they only made the playoffs because Furey didn't play in the last game. I don't think that teams like Alvirne, Timberlane, Dover and Keene would have much of a chance against teams like Central, North, Pinkerton, etc. And yes, I know all of the D-II supporters love to bring up that Salem/Timberlane game when the Owls only lost by 1 in OT. And I wasn't at that game so I don't know why exactly that game was so close. But I did see both Salem and Timberlane multiple times and I'm pretty sure that game was a fluke. Salem is a much better team. And the other game people talk about is Keene beating Londonderry week one. C'mon people it was week one. That game was as bad as Londonderry played all year, and it was the best game Keene played all year. Still, games like this did show that, for this year at least, there wasn't a whole lot that separated the two divisions.

  22. every needs to shut up bg would kill north or salem winnacunnet killed north in a scrimage this year and the level of the kids on bg and the level of the kids on north were completely different

  23. @ 7:27

    cronan would have ran that for 6

  24. First off, he would not have. There were atleast two BG defenders downfield to make the tackle. Second, would have could have should have.

  25. The Proof is in the pudding... BG, with the Chicken as a mascot, REFUSED to move up. Since they feel that they are the best in the state, they must think that there is more competition in D2. It's the only explanation as to why every other sport in that school has the guts to play in Division 1 but the apparantly fragile football team.

  26. 9:34pm ANSWER.

    CM is in MA Div I. Member of the Cathloic Conference. CM has not won one D-I game this year. Unlike their conference mates, they play down outside of their conference. That's why they were undefeated earlier in the year. Realistically, they are prob between 40th and 80th best in Mass. If they played NH D-I they would be 6th or 7th. Pinkerton is much better (Yes, this Year).

  27. CM played Xavierian Brothers and other top MA teams very tight this year

  28. Jeremy you hit the nail on the head. I wasnt trying to say D2 is better. But any D2 team (except spaulding) could compete with any D1 team. Once you establish that anything can happen in a game as was shown by Keene and Timberlane. D1 is overally slightly better, but D2 for this year at least is only a fraction behind i think.
    (it was Londonderry's first game but it was Keene's first game too. Londonderry is better, im just sayin')

    in years past and mayber future D1 is better but the margin is not as much as people like to pretend

  29. BG's defense gave up the fewest points of all time. Most of them the second stringers in. The varsity players gave up two td's one a one handed snag, the other when they had about 4 offsides penalties against Keene. Best defense no doubt.
    even if Cronan broke away on that run (which he wouldnt have) he would have eventually been caught by one of the 11 BG speedsters on defense, then they drive stuffed as always.
    the play was stopped because of early whistles, perhaps a little taste of Karma for whichever Winny fan had the whistle earlier in the game??

  30. you cant just diregard scrimmages alltogether. It was just a scrimmage for both teams. and it was early in the season for both teams. BG is by far the best in the state this year end of story.
    but with 34 seniors leaving next year will be different

  31. If BG is not willing to step up to Division I there is no point in discussing or surmising how they would do. BG obviously does not want to be challenged-that speaks for itself...

  32. The continuous comments regarding BG's wishes to not play DI are not only untrue but unfair and an inaccurate representation of the mindset of those at BG. As a student-athlete at BG, I can tell you that the Guertin players are itching to play DI and dominate at the highest level of competition in the state. There is a belief amongst the players that they will in fact be playing DI next year, and they've begun to plan accordingly. Anonymous people making cheap shots such as "BG obviously does not want to be challenged" is not right, as these remarks are simply uneducated attacks on the character of Bishop Guertin players, coaches and administration.

    In regards to the fact that 34 seniors are leaving, the JV team at BG has, if I am not mistaken, gone undefeated over the past two seasons. Though the loss of the seniors will be big, there are plenty of rising upperclassmen as well as a strong senior class for next year to maintain the winning tradition.

  33. bg is the best team in the state winny is number 2

  34. I was at the North/Winny scrimmage. That would have been a 35-7 North win.

  35. Well put 9:35! 11:34 Sunday, you must have attended a game in some alternate universe. Winnacunnet did not compete against North that day. And regarding the 7 points Win. did score, it game against 2nd & 3rd team players, kids who are adjusting to varsity football.

  36. Who won the D2 Championship game last Saturday?

  37. Ask any BG fan, coach, or player, Winnacunnet was the best and toughest team they faced all year, heads down.

  38. I'm from Winnacunnet. We did lose to North during the scrimmage.

  39. Each first team scored a touchdown, and it's a scrimmage, both teams weren't nearly as good as they were now. Congradulations to both teams for making it to the championship after the year before both teams only won a couple of games. Remember, winnacunnet only won 2 games the year before, that is a amazing turn around. Just found out to that BG had 9 allstate players and winnacunnet had 8

  40. Congrats to the BG and Winnacunnet selections. Are the full D1 & D2 all state teams announced yet?

  41. I played for BG this year and i was impressed with Winny. The two Winnacunet games we played were the two toughest we played all year. That being said i dont think they should have even close to 8 all state selections if thats true.

  42. love how when a dominant team comes around everyone makes rediculous excuses for losing to them or just buries their head in the sand and refuse to even talk about the team. they were the best team this year by a long shot. get over it

  43. The New Hampshire Football Report has the D2 All-State team.

  44. Pretty cool, compliments of ESPN and Rise Magazine. Regional Rankings include BG at #20.

    East Region Top 20
    (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia)

    1. Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) 10-0 (1)
    2. Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) 12-0 (2)
    3. Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.) 11-0 (4)
    4. North Penn (Lansdale, Pa.) 12-0 (5)
    5. Phoebus (Hampton, Va.) 12-0 (6)
    6. Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.) 12-0 (7)
    7. Linganore (Frederick, Md.) 12-0 (8)
    8. Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) 11-1 (10)
    9. Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 11-1 (13)
    10. La Salle College (Wyndmoor, Pa.) 10-1 (16)
    11. DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) 11-1* (3)
    12. Cherokee (Marlton, N.J.) 10-0 (11)
    13. Xaverian (Westwood, Mass.) 10-0 (12)
    14. New Rochelle (New Rochelle, N.Y.) 11-0 (14)
    15. Battlefield (Haymarket, Va.) 11-0 (15)
    16. Easton (Easton, Pa.) 11-1 (NR)
    17. St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.) 9-2 (9)
    18. North Tonawanda (North Tonawanda, N.Y.) 12-0 (NR)
    19. Brooke (Wellsburg, W.Va.) 12-0 (NR)
    20. Bishop Guertin (Nashua, N.H.) 12-0* (NR)

  45. except they'r ahead of Xaverian in almost every other poll.
    Xaverian beant CM by like 7. BG by like 40
    thats pretty cool though. Don Bosco is unreal

  46. Let's see a BG vs. Xaverian game!

  47. call it a New England Championship

  48. Isn't Xaverian in D1 in Mass? Why isn't BG in D1 NH? Funny though, five of the last six championships and no D1. Scared?

  49. I wouldn't say scared, 1:44 pm. What I will say is that BG loves looking at their D2 championship trophies and bask in the glow that is emitted from them. They are kings of their little D2 pond. When you go into an ocean the waves are bigger and you might have to get a life preserver. BG is comfortable in the pond.

  50. This year they would have won D1 the last 5 what a joke. Now they want to be compared to Xaverian. Very Funny. Step up and play D1 schedule than it can be mentioned. No Tony petitioned for 2. You wonder why everyone hates BG. Best D2 team ever!

  51. That's funny - BG gets ranked by an independent, respected poll, and people still rant anti BG even though it's a great sign for NH football. The next time someone else dominates in this manner, probably Salem next year, it will be easier for them to get recognized...which is good for everyone involved. Come to think of it, NH HS football fans might actually be as dumb as they act.

  52. Xaverian is D1 in Mass because it is an all boys school of several thousand. BG is coed with about 700.
    this year they could have dominated any division. but in the future probably not

  53. Salem will not be as dominant as BG but great point. No matter what everyone will just moan about BG recruits or should be D1 next year. BG is better than your team and it is great that the state of NH is being represented in such a prestigious poll. But no, everyone just wants to complain about this and that.
    BG was much better than any team this year. Cry about it

  54. I agree with the above comments. Rather than congratulate Bishop Guertin for being recognized one of the premier teams in the East, bringing some attention to NH football, people continue to hate on BG for no reason other than they're on top. Congrats BG, the hard work really paid off for all of you.

  55. rumor has it bg destroyed CM because they were so mesmorized by his hair that they were recruited there instead of CM. Man's got some great hair, no one can deny that. You know what that's probably why they did so well. Their defense wasn't fast, the opposing offense was just so much slower because they couldn't stop gazing at his beautiful head of hair.

  56. Who's hair? Coach O'Reilly's?

  57. Great stat to ponder. Someone on this board thought BG had the greatest D of all time in terms of giving up points. I believe that distinction may go to a Plymouth team that gave up only 6 or 7 in 1981 (pretty sure that was the year). It came in the championship game. Ironically, it was a game they lost to Bishop Brady 6 or 7-0. I'm not a Plymouth guy, but that is an incredible stat and one that may never again be duplicated.