Saturday, September 15, 2012

Exeter Wins it for Cody

Playing with heavy hearts following the death of a teammate, the Exeter Blue Hawks once again showed why they are HANDS DOWN the best team in New Hampshire. Tyler Grant cemented his case as the early favorite for NH Mr. Football with 4 touchdowns on offense and 2 interceptions on defense - in the first half!

Manchester Central meanwhile turned the ball over 5 times in the 1st half (2 INT's, 2 fumbles and 1 turnover on downs). Just a couple minutes into the 2nd half and both teams took their starters out and it was running time the rest of the way. Exeter cruised from there to a 49-0 win, improving to 3-0 (2-0 in D-I) on the season.

This Was More Than Just a Game
Tragedy struck the Exeter High football program earlier this week with the death of sophomore JV player Cody Brackett.

"It's amazing how people pull together when tragic things happen" said Exeter coach Bill Ball. "Everybody pulled together for Cody's family. We're very grateful and very proud of everyone, we just want to help the Bracketts as much as we can. We lost a great kid, he'll be missed."

You really have to give Coach Ball and the entire Blue Hawk football community a ton of credit for how they have dealt with such a difficult situation with so much class. It would have been understandable if they were a little off during this game, if they lost their heads a little bit or if they were a little flustered. But that simply wasn't the case. They had just 1 penalty and zero turnovers all game. Central was the flustered team.

"This game was all about #28" said Grant. "Earlier today we all went to Cody's wake, it was really emotional. Then we just went out and played for him."

This Game Was Over Fast!
On the first play from scrimmage James Vogt ran for 57 yards, setting up a 5 yard TD run by Grant to make it 6-0 only :26 into the game. Then on Central's first possession they fumbled, and it was recovered by Exeter. Blue Hawks QB Ethan Joyce then found Grant for an 11 yard TD pass. Just 5 minutes in and it was 13-0 Exeter.

Things only got worse from there for the Little Green. They were able to move the ball well, getting down to the Exeter 28 yard line. But QB Riley Cote threw back-to-back incomplete passes on 3rd and 6 and 4th and 6, and Central turned the ball over on downs. On the ensuing possession for Exeter, Joyce hit Grant with a screen pass, and then Grant ran 45 yards for the touchdown. We were still in the 1st quarter (1:23 left) and it was already 21-0 Blue Hawks.

On Central's next possession they fumbled AGAIN, and it was recovered by Exeter senior Jameson Whitely (who continues to be one of the team's top defenders). That gave the Blue Hawks the ball on the Central 37. Galen Antolino ran for 15 yards, Grant ran for 10 more, and then Grant capped the drive with a 3 yard TD run. With 9:30 left in the 2nd quarter it was 28-0 Blue Hawks, and Grant ALREADY had scored 4 TD's. Not only that, but Grant was also covering Central's best receiver (Troy Pelletier) on defense.

"Tyler is a great player, but he's an even better person than he is a player" said Coach Ball.

Central then got the ball back again. Ryan Kelly made a nice tackle for the Blue Hawks. Then it was 4th and 7 for Central on the Exeter 42 yard line. Cote made a great pass to Pelletier for 14 yards and the 1st down. Then Cote threw the ball towards the end zone, and it was picked off by who else but Tyler Grant. It was a tough blow for the Little Green - you're already down 28-0, you get THIS close to finally getting on the board and then a turnover in the end zone.

"We came out focused and ready, and capitalized on their turnovers" said Coach Ball. "There wasn't a break that we didn't get."

That's when Colby Swane started to take over offensively for Exeter. Swane took a hand off and ran 42 yards. Then Antolino ran for 10 yards and a 1st down. Then Swane ran in a 28 yard touchdown. Just like that it was 35-0 Exeter, as Logan Laurent added PAT's on all 5 of the Blue Hawk TD's.

Central had one last possession in the 1st half, and they were desperately looking for something to feel good about. But then Whitely made a great play defensively, getting into the backfield and sacking Cote. But then things started to go Central's way, as junior tail back David Weekly ran 40 yards up the sideline, followed by a personal foul penalty on Exeter. The Little Green were again nearing the end zone, but once again it was an interception by Grant (this time at the 4 yard line). Cote threw a deep ball intended for Pelletier. It was a jump ball, and Grant just went up and grabbed it, despite being 3 inches shorter than Pelletier.

"We knew going in that he was a good receiver and that Cote tries to go to him a lot" said Grant. "And I knew all week that I'd be covering him. On that play I tried to use explosiveness to go up and grab it. I was able to make a read on the ball and make the play."

So that was it for the 1st half, with Exeter up 35-0. Central came out on their first possession of the 2nd half and again turned the ball over - they fumbled it after a completed pass, and it was once again recovered by the Blue Hawks. On the ensuing drive for Exeter, Swane ran for 42 more yards (putting him over 100 yards rushing on the game) and that is when both teams took their starters out. From then on it was running team and 2nd stringers in.

Exeter added 2 more TD's, on runs by Jacob Boria and Chris Kelley for the 49-0 final.

Swane and Laurent's Return Make Exeter Even Better
Swane and Laurent sat out the Blue Hawks' first 2 games with suspensions, but having them both back in the lineup now makes this team even better. That's a scary thought for the rest of Division I! Laurent is hands down the best kicker in NH. He's automatic on PAT's and field goals of any distance, and always kicks it into the end zone on kickoff, which of course means opponents always have to start drives on their own 20. Swane meanwhile is speedy play maker who has the ability to go for 6 anytime he touches it. He also brings more speed to the secondary.

Photo credit: Exeter Blue Hawks Photos

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