Saturday, October 6, 2012

Somersworth Crushes Shorthanded Stevens, Hand Cardinals Their First Loss

It was a big day for senior RB/LB Josh Ream and the Somersworth Hilltoppers on Friday night, as they protected their home field and came up with a win that will be crucial to playoff seeding. Ream rushed for 198 yards and 1 touchdown on 25 carries and also had 8 tackles on defense as the Hilltoppers defeated Stevens 27-0. The Hilltoppers handed an injury-plagued Cardinals team their first loss of the season.

"This was a big win for us" said Somersworth head coach Dan Hodsdon. "The kids were extra fired up for this one. We needed this win to get where we want to go."

Where they want to go is a top seed in the Division V playoffs. Going into the season we said it would be a 4 team race between Somersworth, Stevens, Kearsarge and Monadnck. And through 6 weeks that has certainly been the case. These 4 teams are all very close talent-wise (when healthy), and that's why home field advantage will be so critical in the playoffs.

Stevens simply had no answer for Ream running the football. The 5-foot-8, 195 lbs. senior had 92 yards in the 1st quarter alone. He has great size and strength so he's tough to bring down but at the same time he is also very quick and used his blocks to make some great cuts as well.

"When that kid gets going he's tough to stop" said Coach Hodsdon. "He's a workhorse. Then Drew got a little banged up in the 1st half so we used Josh even more."

Somersworth QB Drew Francouer was slow getting up following a 1st quarter carry. Still he was able to reach the end zone for the game's first TD just as he was being tackled by a Stevens defender. It was a crucial play, as Francouer ran it in on 4th and goal from the 3 yard line. Francouer also kicked the PAT's, played defensive back and returned the punts!

As for Stevens, the story was injuries. Their 3 best players (all seniors) are QB Logan Batchelder, WR/DB Billy Brooks and OL/LB CJ Gosselin - all 3 of them either missed time during this game due to injury or they didn't play at all. Batchelder is one of the division's top QB's when healthy but missed all of last season with a broken leg. He left the game late in the 1st quarter and did not return. Gosselin left the game in the 3rd quarter after his own teammate, 380 lbs. lineman Rozwell Mason, Jr. fell on top of him at the end of a play. Brooks meanwhile did not play at all.

"Billy dislocated his shoulder in last week's game" Stevens head coach Paul Silva told the NH Notebook. "He scored 8 touchdowns before that. Logan re-injured his knee. He got hurt in the Sanborn game and missed all of the Bow game too. CJ just got the wind knocked out of him. He's an all-state player and has had 20 tackles in a game a couple different times for us this season."

With all of those injuries, Stevens' game plan went right out the window. With their 2 biggest offensive threats on the sidelines they struggled to move the football all game. Prior to getting hurt have to say though that I was very impressed with Gosselin's play. The kid is a beast and must have had at least 15 tackles in just over 1 half of football before leaving the game. Most of those tackles were for little or no gain.

"Don't blame it on the injuries, blame it on me" said Coach Silva. "We have some good backup players, but I need to prepare them better than that. We had kids who didn't even know where to line up out there. That's my fault."

In addition to Somersworth's dynamic duo of Ream and Francouer, it was also a big game for lineman Dre Parker, TE/LB Kevin Clougherty, RB/LB Kurtis Michaud, RB/LB Nick Honaker, lineman Tyler Kretschmar, TE/DE Darren Glore and lineman Denton Getchius.

Parker and Clougherty made 2 of the game's biggest plays. Parker had a fumble recovery for TD in the 2nd quarter. Stevens was way back on their own 3 yard line when backup QB Bryar Roillard attempted to pitch the ball over to to the RB. The ball deflected off his face mask and fell to the ground. Parker recovered the fumble and scored the touchdown.

Clougherty meanwhile made a big time interception earlier in the 2nd quarter, giving the Hilltoppers the ball on the Stevens 18 yard line. He is a transfer from Newmarket High, and you can look for him to be an impact player on the Somersworth basketball team this winter as well as the football team now.

Michaud had 42 yards rushing a TD, Honaker ran for 43 yards of his own and Kretschmar, Glore and Getchius all played tough, hard nosed football. They were a big reason why Somersworth dominated the line of scrimmage all game.

There is no question Somersworth is a team capable of winning the D-V championship next month. They have now beaten both Kearsarge and Stevens and they won both games by 2 scores or more. Their lone loss was an overtime defeat to Monadnock and in talking to Somersworth folks the team's heads just weren't there that game.

Stevens meanwhile did beat Monadnock in week 1, but they were very fortunate to win that game when you consider Monadnock out-gained them 3 to 1 in terms of total offense. The Cardinals will need to have Batchelder, Brooks and Gosselin all healthy to have a shot to win the title.

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