This was a much anticipated game, as Division II football has been the talk of the state with how wide open it is and how many good teams there are. And Winnacunnet and Bedford are definitely two of those teams, both coming off blowout wins in week 1 with Winnacunnet beating up on Souhegan 41-7 and Bedford clobbering Milford 48-7.
And during the 1st quarter at least these were 2 evenly matched teams, with the game being scoreless 0-0 after 1 quarter of play. But as the game went on Winnacunnet's size up front was too much for Bedford to handle. They got after Bedford QB James Caparell, forcing him out of his comfort zone. And on offense they opened up holes for the running game, as senior tailback Ben Franzoso rushed for 135 yards on 22 carries (he also made 1 catch for 23 yards).
The result was a 13-6 win for the Warriors, who are now 2-0 on the season (1-0 in D -II). They're one of the top teams in the state, no question about it.
Warriors Won this One in the Trenches
The Warriors lineman are big, they're fast and they're physical. Jordan Cutting (6'2", 280), Christian Dyer (6'4", 280), Zach Williams (6'1", 255) and Renaldo Gordon (5'10", 260) lead the way, while Nick Peckham and Michael Karpel also played well, as did LB's Sam Bonsaint and Brandon Gnecco.
The combination of the size of Winnacunnet's o-line along with the speed and vision of Franzoso and also some key passes by QB IngHao Vaesna resulted in a pair of TD's for the Warriors. Boucher, Witt and Ben Gareau all had key receptions.
"They have to be one of the biggest lines we'll see all year" remarked Bedford head coach Kurt Hines.
Bedford's lineman weren't nearly as big as Winnacunnet's and at times they were just over matched in the trenches.
"I thought Gordon and Bonsaint in particular had some key sacks and pressure for us on defense" added Winnacunnet head coach Ron Auffant.
Not only were the big guys up front physical for the Warriors, but so were the DB's. You'd be hard pressed to find a pair of DB's in New Hampshire who are tougher and more physical than Clint Felch and Collin Witt. These two guys were knocking around the Bedford receivers all game, and making them pay every time they tried to run through the middle of the field for a pass. Not only are these guys hard hitters but they have very good speed so they can cover even the fastest receivers. Jon Flagg and Alec Boucher also played well in the secondary for the Warriors.
"All 4 of those DB's are only juniors too" added Coach Auffant. "But I give credit to the Bedford quarterback (Caparell). "He is very good. I thought Luopa (from Keene) was the best QB in our division, but Bedford's QB is just as good."
Caparell went 10/20 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown. Most of those yards however came on the Bulldog's final 2 drives of the game, when Winnacunnet was already up 13-0 and with not enough time on the clock for Bedford to make a comeback.
"Our kids didn't give up" said Coach Hines. We tell them to play all 4 quarters and that's what they did.
With no time left on the clock Caparell connected with sophomore WR Mike Vailas for a 25 yard TD pass. It was kind of a bizarre sequence that led to that play, however. Winnacunnet had the ball with under 10 seconds left looking to punt it away. If the punt had stayed in bounds and bounced around a couple times or if it was returned by Bedford the time on the clock would have ran out and the game would be over, with WHS winning 13-0. But it went out of bounds, giving Bedford the ball back one more time. Caparell completed a couple more passes, with the last one being the TD.
Bedford's 'D' Was Also Strong
The three guys in particular who really stood out defensively for Bedford were David Cannone, Dylan York and Joe Thibeault. Cannone had a whopping 16 tackles on the game, with the majority of them being for little or no gain. He also made some tough runs on offense, going for 27 yards on just 5 carries. York is a talented two way player, as a hard hitting DB on defense and a play making RB on offense. Thibeault had a number of big tackles as well.
Penalties Hurt Bedford's Offense
Bedford had 2 drives in the 1st half where they came very close to scoring but came up short both times. And on both possessions penalties hurt them. Late in the 1st half Caparell had a 20 yard run called back for holding and then later in the drive Caparell found WR Brian Collins (7 catches for 60 yards) on a long pass play but that was also called back. That drive resulted in a deep pass attempt to the end zone by Caparell on 4th down but the pass was batted down by Boucher.
On Bedford's 1st drive of the game they had 2 false start penalties which put them in a 1st and 20 situation. They ended up punting on that drive.
"We have to eliminate those penalties to compete with teams like this" lamented Hines.