Cool temperatures, gray Saturday afternoons, with the leafs falling starts the time of the year that high school football teams determine the road to the finals. Well today I punched in directions to New Hampshire division 6 state championship and the Interlakes -Moultonborough team from Meredith was the only name that popped up! I guess that means whoever wants to win this years title will have to beat a team that excels in every phase of the game. Rarely do you find a team at the division 6 level as balanced and as efficient as this years edition of the ILM football team.
The Lakers latest opponent was a solid play off bound team from Franklin. The Tornado's were game but they had very little luck in finding any weaknesses in the Lakers. With the exception of two drives late in the second quarter ILM was in complete control of this game winning a lopsided contest 38-7. ILM won the opening toss and deferred to the second half. That immediately puts Franklin or any team they play in a hole. The versatile Connor Donovan usually booms all his kick offs into the end zone. On the opening kick Donovan hit a unexpected knuckle ball which was very hard to handle. By the time Franklin got a hold of the ball they could only return the kick to the 15. Franklin did a nice job running the ball with Connor Smith and Brian Pickowicz getting a couple of first downs and moving the ball out to the 50. Then on a 3rd and 10 Smith tried a pass to the flat but linebacker Conor Langille stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the pass. Langille was all over the field Saturday, The senior captain plays both ways and had a sack later in the game. ILM starts on the 44. I think this is the key to their success. They are able to win the field position battle with their excellent special teams and opportunistic defense. Nine plays later quarterback Mitchell Juries takes it in from the 1 and ILM goes up 7-0.
Donovan kicks the next kick off into the end zone. Franklin starts on the 20, 3 plays and a punt. Here we go a again the Lakers have the ball at midfield. Five plays and Juries hits a wide open Sander Danielovich on a out and up pattern down the right side line for a 32 yard touchdown. Franklin starts their third drive on the 20. Three plays and out when ILM running back Willie True returns the Franklin punt to the 22. You see a pattern here? If you are going to beat ILM you can't let them start their drives in your territory. I do have to give Franklin credit they could have folded being down 21-0 mid-way through the second period but that isn't how they do things at Franklin. Quarterback Connor Smith who is a smooth lefty with a nice touch led Franklin on a 6 play drive finishing with a 37 yard pass to Chris Gagne to close the score to 21-7. Smith had another nice drive taking his team down the field before being intercepted as time was running out in the half. Smith was 8-17 and 139 yards on the day.Smith and Brain Pickowicz made for a nice tandem with Pickowicz having 4 catches and 70 yards.
Franklin did have a little momentum going into the second half but remember ILM deferred at the opening coin toss and got the ball to start the second half. You can defer when you have one of the best kickers in the state and you have a lot of confidence in your defense. ILM returns the kick off out to the 49. Four plays later Connor Donovan runs left breaking several tackles along the way and goes 39 yards for a touchdown. Whatever momentum Franklin had at halftime is now gone. Smith tried to spread things out and get things going but ILM defense started to clamp down and Franklin had no more bullets left in the gun. Donovan was able to punch another one in from 3 yards out and he put the icing on the cake by hitting a 42 yard field goal that would have been good from 52! Donovan had another of his blue collar 22 rushes for 109 yards type of day.
I know I have put the Interlakes-Moultonborough football team on a pedestal but this team is the class of Division 6. Coach Carle of Newport has a knack of getting his teams to peak when it counts. Maybe they have a punchers chance but I don't see any weakness in this years ILM Lakers! We still have to play the games but map quest will send you to Meredith.