Saturday, September 11, 2010
Cardinals Fly Past Falcons in D-V
In Division V, the most wide open Division in the state, the Cardinals of Stevens High picked up a big road victory by defeating the Bow High Falcons 24-13 Saturday afternoon. Stevens dominated the first half, leading 24-0 at the break. Bow got a couple touchdowns in the second half but it was too little too late. It was a good team effort for the Cardinals, who are now 1-1 on the young season.
Here's my full recap of the game, as well as an interesting tid-bit on one of the Stevens players you won't read anywhere else (how's that for a teaser!).
"Having suffered a close loss last week and this being our first home game we really wanted to make a statement" explained a disappointed Paul Cohen, the Head Coach of Bow after the game. "Instead they're the ones who made the statement."
Bow has more size than Stevens does. But Stevens is a faster team, and on this particular day they hit harder and wanted it more than Bow did.
How it Went Down
This game started off eerily similar to the Salem/Central game I covered last night. In that game the team that ended up winning went on a long, time consuming opening drive using mostly running plays and concluding with a short touchdown run. The same thing happened in this game as Stevens drove 72 yards on about 10 plays en route to a 1 yard TD run by senior Zach Fitzherbert. In last night's game Salem led 24-0 at the half. In today's game Stevens led 24-0 at the half. If that's not irony I don't know what is!
Stevens continued their first half domination. Bow had a 3 and out on their first possession, and then the Cardinals went on a 68 yard drive which was capped by a 35 yard TD pass from sophomore quarterback Logan Batchelder to junior Cam Blewitt. Bow once again struggled to gain yardage on their second possession and was forced to punt. On Stevens' third drive they once again had a long field ahead of them (84 yards) and once again they ended the drive with a TD and once again it came on a pass play from Bathcelder to Blewitt. It was a 17 yard strike for the Cardinals.
This was a game I think most would consider to be a tossup going in. Yet only 14 seconds into the second quarter it was 21-0. Want more irony? All 3 of those TD's came VERY close to not happening and this could have been a MUCH different ballgame.
On the Cardinals first TD Fitzherbert ran it in from 1 yard out after Batchelder ran the option to the right and pitched the ball over to him. When Fitzherbert first got the ball he had 2 Bow defenders bearing down on him - it looked like he was going to get tackled for a loss. But he kept battling for yardage and dove towards the goal line. The official said that he got in for the touchdown...but I disagree. Fitzherbert extended his arm out with the ball, and the ball DID cross the plane of the goal line. But his knees were already down before that happened. The ball should have been spotted at the 1 1/5 yard line bringing up 3rd down. Trust me, I was standing right there when this play happened.
On the second Stevens touchdown Batchelder came VERY close to crossing the line of scrimmage as he passed the ball downfield to Blewitt. There was even a flag on the play. The officials huddled up and discussed the play, trying to determine where exactly Batchelder was when he threw the ball and whether that spot was past the L.O.S. They then picked the flag up and called it a touchdown. Not only that, but the pass also came THIS close to being intercepted. So on that 1 play, Stevens dodged 2 bullets. No penalty + no interception = 13-0 Cardinals.
Finally, on their third TD Coach Miller's squad dodged a couple more bullets. On one play early on in the drive Batchelder threw a screen pass to Fritzherbert behind the line of scrimmage which fell incomplete resulting in a fumble. Luckily For Stevens, they recovered it. On the very next play the ball was nearly fumbled as it was handed off to a back. Later in the drive it was 3rd and goal for Stevens on the Bow 12 yard line. Once again, a Batchelder pass was nearly intercepted. Bow defensive back Chad Beauchain had the ball go right through his hands. On the very next play Blewitt caught his TD pass of the game and it was 21-0.
Now I'm not saying Stevens got lucky. They were clearly the better football team this afternoon. I'm just saying that this could have been a much different game if some of these plays went the other way.
Sophomore QB Comes Up Big
"Sometimes I have to remind myself that he's only a sophomore" commented Stevens coach Dave Miller about Bathcelder, his young QB.
Batchelder finished the game with 253 yards passing, 2 passing TD's and 26 rushing yards.
Stevens Defense Was Strong as Well
The Stevens defense held Bow QB Joe Marshall to 3/6 passing for just 18 yards, 0 TD's and 2 INT's and 0 points in the first half. They dominated both sides of the football. Fitzherbert had 1 interception on defense and nearly picked off another pass.
The Cardinals also got exceptional play from their linebackers. Junior Joe Tarr had an interception followed by a 25 yard return, while Zach Knight and Matt Garrison both made some big hits and tackles in the backfield. Defensive lineman CJ Gosselin also had a big hit that knocked Bow's starting running back Casey Fessenden out of the game.
The Stevens defense also held Bow speedster Erik Michaud in check. The star senior was limited to just 29 yards receiving and 3 yards rushing. It is obvious watching him that Michaud is a heck of an athlete. But he was definitely quiet today.
Fessenden injured his knee and missed the entire second half after rushing for 52 yards on 10 carries in the first. With Fessenden out of the lineup, Alex Foley got his chance to run the ball. Foley was coming off a hand injury and didn't gt 1 carry in the first half. But in the second half he gained 8 yards on his first carry. On the very next play he took the ball 56 yards for the touchdown. Foley ended up with 74 yards on the ground and a TD, with all of it coming in the second half.
3rd and Long Conversions Were BIG Key for Stevens
The biggest key for Stevens in putting up 24 first half points was converting on 3rd and long situations. On their first drive they were at midfield and it was 3rd and 8. Batchelder then found Blewitt downfield for an 11 yard gain and a first down. On their second drive, it was 3rd and 12 on their own 30. Once again, Batchelder made a big play, hitting Fitzherbert deep for a 30 yard pass play and another first down. Finally, on Stevens' third possession they were deep in their own territory on their own 6 yard line. It was 3rd and 15, and with a Bow lineman bearing down on him, Batchelder threw a 45 yard bomb down the field to fellow sophomore Billy Brooks fir yet another first down. Later that drive it was 3rd and goal for Stevens on the Bow 17. That's when Batchelder found Blewitt for the 17 yard TD. Some big conversions there...especially for a sophomore QB!
Handicapping Division V
"I think you have to start with St. Thomas" said Coach Miller. "Every year they have 65 kids squad. They go 2 deep at every position. I have 38 kids and really only go 12-13 players deep. Kearsarge and Bishop Brady are always good too."
I was very impressed with Stevens today. This is the first D-V game I've seen this year, but I can't imagine there are many teams in the division better than the Cardinals. Stevens did lose to Kearsarge last week though 16-8. St. Thomas meanwhile was the preseason favorite and have won their first 2 games in blowouts, with the second one coming against a good Windham team. In the last 3 weeks of the season, St. Thomas plays both Kearsarge and Stevens. Both of those games are on the road, and they will both tell a lot about the state of this division.
Stevens is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005 (back then they were in Division IV).
-Senior Greg Polish ran in Bow's other TD. He finished with 40 yards on the ground. Between Polish, Fessenden and Foley, Bow gained 166 rushing yards and 2 TD's.
-The Bow defense REALLY struggled in the first half, but in the second half they played much better - especially senior linebacker Jason Fournier who made some nice tackles including 1 for a big loss.
-As for Stevens, Fitzherbert picked off a pass, scored a TD, rushed for 64 yards and caught 4 passes for 73 yards. Blewitt amassed 88 total yards and scored 2 TD's. And Brooks made 3 catches for 90 yards.
Interesting Tid-Bit on a Stevens Player You Won't Read Anywhere Else
Senior WR/DB Dylan Tanney rushed the ball 4 times for 16 yards today. He also suffered a pretty bad leg cramp late in the game. Those aren't the interesting tid-bits though.
"He's an actual magician too" explained a Stevens assistant coach. "He does real magic, and goes around and performs shows with it and everything."
Cardinals opponents will have to be careful, or Tanney might just wave his magic wand and make their chances of beating Stevens disappear!
Something Else You Won't Read Anywhere Else
Bow tight end Greg Froleiks caught 4 passes for 44 yards, all coming in the second half. Incidentally, he is also the younger brother of Kevin Froleiks - a young comedian who got his start in a sketch comedy group at UNH with yours truly. I guess it really is a small world!