Coach Paul Silva of the Steven's Cardinal football team had just got done speaking to his team and his face showed the emotion of a coach who had the toughest week of his coaching career.
"What these boys have had to deal with the last 2 seasons is just not fair" said Coach Silva.
In the last year's opener a team that had play off hopes looses it's starting quarterback for the entire season with a broken leg. With the start of a new season and hopes high the team is devastated with the tragic loss of one of it's assistant coaches, assistant coach Aaron Robar died last weekend in a motorcycle accident. He was riding in a memorial ride for a local war hero when an unimaginable thing happened. A car driven by a elderly man crossed over the yellow line and hit the line of motorcycles that Robar was riding with.
Somehow and some way with all this team had to deal with over the last week Stevens was able to win a hard fought battle on the road against a tough Monadnock Husky team by the score of 21-16.
"No one gave us a chance to win this game" said Silva.
His team was playing a Monadnock team that was dropping down from Division 4 and is considered one of the preseason favorites in division 5 to win it all.This game featured two teams that play opposite stiles of offense. Stevens runs a shotgun spread offense. They to try to spread the field and beat you with their speed and athleticism. Monadnock is just the opposite they line up in power formations and try to run the play down your throat. The stats and time of possession show the Huskies were the dominating team winning the battle in the trenches. The difference in the game was Steven's all purpose back and receiver William "Billy" Brooks, Jr. Brooks made 3 electric plays all in the first half that accounted for all of the Cardinals 21 points.
The Huskies won the toss and deferred to the 2nd half. Cardinals started their first drive on the 39 and went no where, 3 and out. Monadnock's first series was no better and they were forced to punt without picking up a first down. Out comes the punt team and the one phase of the game that is very difficult to fine tune in just 3 weeks of preseason is the punt team. Brooks caught the punt on the left side made one cut and found a seam and raced 72 yards for a touchdown putting Stevens on the board first 7-0. Monadnock gets the ball back and goes to their ground and pound game. The Huskies have 3 feature backs and they use all 3. Halfback #31 Dylan Lane, #44 fullback Drew Bolewski, and speed back #23 Isaiah Prince.Prince had the big play in the drive a sweep left for 36 yards. After a consistant dose of up the gut football Drew Bolewski scores from 3 yards out tying the score 7-7.
On the next possession Stevens gets the ball and are able to make their one and only big play from offense all game. Quarterback Logan Batchelder who missed last season but started as a sophomore rolled to the right and bought a few more seconds which allowed Brooks to get behind the defenders. Batchelder hit him with a beautiful 60 yard throw and catch. Stevens goes back up 14-7. Monadnock was controlling the line of scrimmage but unfortunately on their next drive the were forced to bring the punt team back out. Brooks back in coverage the Huskies made the choice to kick to him. He made the play of the game running to the right the husky green jerseys had him pinned along the sideline but Brooks made a very athletic cut against the grain. Another punt return 63 yards for a touchdown and what would be Stevens last score of the night.Stevens up 21-7 midway through the 2nd quarter. The Huskies made one big play to end the quarter. Quarterback #12 Will Kitterman hit Prince with a 20 yard strike perfectly thrown in the seam between two defenders the Huskies close it to 21-14. Both teams go to halftime and Monadnock down by 7 must have felt that if they can avoid the big play their dominance at the line of scrimmage will carry them in the second half. Another fact not known at the time was that Brooks responsible for all Stevens scores has hurt his thumb and will be out for the rest of the game.
Monadnock all night long had a lot of success running right behind RG #55 Nick Patterson, RT #76 Brandon Wilfore, and TE #48 DJ Lotito. Stevens bend but don't break defense had to make some halftime adjustments, because with Brooks out of the game the outcome would be on their shoulders.
The entire 2nd half was played between the twenties. Without Brooks, Batchelder had no other options to go to. The Huskies kept pounding away but as time ticked off the clock the Stevens defense got tougher and tougher. The Cardinal linebackers #71 CJ Gosselin, #13 Nelson Benjamin, #11 Andrew Brousseau, #52 Cullen Eaton, and #33 Chris Shattuck made one stop after another. In the trenches doing the dirty work was #53 Kal Kleyenstueber, #55 Robbie Knight and 6'6" 380 lbs. Rozwell "Big Daddy" Mason. Keeping the Monadnock passing game to one big play the entire game was Batchelder and #24 Rocky Beliveau. The defense with the exception of a late safety held the Huskies off the scoreboard in the 2nd half. The final score of 21-16 was a total team effort. Big plays by Brooks in the 1st half and the defense in the 2nd half.
Monadnock out-gained Stevens 3 to 1 has to feel bad about letting this game slip through their fingers. But they are a very physical team that will get better especially on special teams. They should be in the running for a playoff spot. Stevens is a hard read, they played a very emotional game tonight and they have the heart that all Stevens teams bring to the field.They are a thin in numbers and right now have only one real threat on offense and he is questionable with a thumb injury. This was Steven's night, a big win for the program and the Stevens football community. We hope that Brook's injury is a minor one.