Sunday, October 7, 2012

Campbell Squeaks Past Winnisquam

By: DC
The Winnisquam Bears proved to themselves and everyone else that they are a legitimate contender come November in Division VI by coming up a 2 point conversation short of knocking off everyone's preseason favorite the Campbell Cougars. They lost a very entertaining, competitive slug fest 21-20.

After falling behind 21-6 in the first half they figured out that Campbell's star running back Jesiah Wade is going to get his yards no matter what you do. The key is to try to contain and limit the number of big plays that Jesiah is going hit you with.

In the 2 games that I have seen Wade play this year the opposing defenses have a tough time adjusting to Jesiah's speed. There is no one else like him in the division. What happens is the defenders take poor pursuit angles and before they have time to react Wade is to the corner and down the sidelines. After Wade rolled up 152 yards of all purpose yardage in the first quarter Winnisquam began to widen out their angles and focused on turning back #25 to the inside. Not allowing him to get those back breaking long touchdown runs. The strategy was to force Campbell into long drives with the hope of something bad happening like a fumble or costly penalty allowing the Bears to climb back into the game and almost pull of the upset.

Winnisquam took the opening kickoff and went on a well executed 10 play drive #11 Austin Hunt taking it in from 2 yards out putting the Bears up 6-0. A muffed snap on the point after kept the Bears from adding that all important extra point. Missed extra points at any level are back breakers. In my opinion your long snapper, ball holder and kicker need at least 100 reps every week in practice. Most high school teams don't put enough emphasis on this phase of the game. I think this is a big mistake and accounts for a lot of close losses every season.

The Bears were prepared to pull off the upset. On the next kickoff they almost pulled off a surprise onside kick giving Campbell the ball at the 50 to start their first possession. It took the Cougars only 4 plays for Wade to score from 30 yards out taking the lead at 7-6.

Winnisquam after a first down was forced to punt the ball back to Campbell. As a reporter it is difficult for me to put away my coaches hat, but a tip for any future Campbell opponents when you are in punt or kick coverage - figure a way of keeping the ball away from #25. Wade catches the punt and goes 80 yards for the Cougars second score pushing the score to 14-6.

The Cougars next drive is 11 plays, 85 yards to the end zone. Wade carries the ball 8 times in the drive putting the Cougars up 21-6. This game is one more score from being over midway through the second quarter and the Cougars dig into the play book. Quarterback Christian McKenna attempts to run the option for the first time in the game and looses the handle giving the ball back to the Bears on the 21.

Winnisquam running back #20 Hunter Karwocki scores from 1 yard out cutting the lead to 21-12. Campbell has time for one more drive before the end of the half but the Bears come up with a huge 4th down stop inside their 20. They go into the halftime down 21-12 but momentum has done a 180 in the Bears favor!

Campbell starts the 2nd half at their 22. The Bears defense who started the game on their heels is now re-energized. They forced Campbell to 3 plays and a punt. Wade who had his normal huge statistical game is starting to tire from carrying the load. If you had to find a weakness in the Cougars attack it maybe that their Mr. Everything Wade is asked to do too much. He starts at corner on defense, he is a special team superstar, his game totals running the ball were 282 yards on 36 carries. Wade is a speed back but he also runs very hard and doesn't mind lowering his shoulder for a few more yards. He does wear down as the game goes on! Coach Prindville recognized this and kept him off the field on defense in the second half.

Winnisquam starts their first drive of the second half at the 35 and goes 65 yards on 8 plays. Austin Hunt scores his second touchdown of the game from 20 yards. The score is now 21-18, and the Bears Karwocki adds the 2 point conversion closing the lead to 1 point. Karwocki is the Bears feature back rushing for 122 yards on 29 carries and 1 touchdown. Karwocki and Hunt make for a nice combination of backfield mates. Hunt had 68 tough yards on the day running mostly between the tackles.

Campbell's next possession was disrupted by a holding penalty that negated another long Wade touchdown run. Then the next 2 Cougar possessions were stopped by 2 untimely fumbles. Campbell who had Franklin on the ropes the week before but let the game slip through fingers was looking at a repeat performance. I asked Coach Prindiville about the difference between last week and this one.

"Simple, we lost last week and this week we didn't" said Prindiville.

I think coach has watched a few Bill Belichick post game press conferences! He did go on to say that they are a very young team that starts only 4 seniors and are just now learning how to win games.

Winnisquam had 3 shots to take the lead but now it was time for the Campbell defense to step up and make the plays. They bent but every time they needed to make a big play they were able to get it done. Cougar linebacker Vinny Bucci had a huge game defensively along with teammates Jordan Lang, Sam Harvey and Max Gouveia. The game ended at 21-20 between 2 teams that could see each other again come playoff time.

Division 6 has turned into a real dog fight with 5 teams battling for 4 playoff spots. Newfound, Campbell, Franklin, Winnisquam, and Mascoma all have winning records. The big game in D-VI looks like it will be the Newfound at Campbell match up the last week of the season.

Mascoma and Winnisquam also match up that same weekend. They are going to have to play the full schedule before all the teams and seeding will be determined. This division might not get a lot of ink and you will never see any of its teams ranked in any power polls but they play a good brand of entertaining, competitive football.

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