Two weeks ago the Monadnock Huskies traveled to North Sutton to take on the Kearsarge Cougars and lost a hard fought defensive battle. That win gave the Cougars the all important home field advantage in the first round of the Division 5 State Football Playoffs! What adjustments could the Huskies make to change the outcome of Saturday's rematch?
"We went back and looked at film of the loss" said Monadnock head coach Linwood Patnode. "Kearsarge had us confused with their multiple fronts. We saw some tendencies in their alignments and made some adjustments."
Coach Patnode knows his team! If they were going to be successful in the rematch he knew that they would have to do what Monadnock does best. They would have to dominate the line of scrimmage with their ground and pound style of play. The Huskies did exactly that on their way to a 14-6 victory over the Cougars from Kearsarge.
Monadnock won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the 2nd half. The Husky defense is considered to be the the strongest phase of their team. Their goal was to get the the wind to their back try to stop the Cougars and gain that all important field position.
"We have been successful deferring all season" Patnode explained. "If we can make a stop with our defense it gives us a big advantage."
The Cougars almost turned the tables on the Huskies in their first drive with #34 Ollie Gallo the Cougar go to man on offense ripping off big runs of 23 and 13 yards on his first 2 carries. The Cougars moved the ball all the way down to the Husky 20 but their very first and only promising drive came to a sudden halt. On first down the Cougars tried to catch the Huskies by surprise with a first down pass into the wind, it fell incomplete. On the next play the Cougars tried to catch the Husky defense out of position with a pitch to Gallo and a wide receiver reverse to #22 Brad Donnelly. The Huskies were not fooled throwing the Cougar WR for a 9 yard loss. Kearsarge surrendered the ball on downs giving the ball to Monadnock on their on 20.
Kearsarge defense had a good start to the game forcing the Huskies to a 3 and out. Huskies punter #23 Isaiah Prince with the wind at his back came out and nailed a beautiful 63 yard punt pushing the Cougars back to the 11 yard line.
After one first down Kearsarge forced into punting the ball into the wind gave the Huskies great field position at their on 40. It took the Huskies only 6 plays to move the ball inside the one yard line. On 4th down and inches Husky running back Jake Poulin put the Huskies on the board 7-0 with 2:39 left in the first quarter.
Both teams playing it close to the vest for the remainder of the first half. Kearsarge had one good opportunity late in the 2nd quarter on a 4th and 6 #44 Jacob Jones pulled off a fake punt keeping a Cougar drive alive. Unfortunately they could not capitalize on another 4th down play when Husky linebacker #55 Nick Patterson broke through and caught Gallo for a 4 yard loss. Both teams head to the intermission with the Huskies leading 7-0.
With temperatures around 40 degrees and a strong wind out of the north the Cougars headed for the warmth of the locker room but the Huskies stayed outside with a Bud Grant display of toughness!
Starting the second half Monandock getting the ball with the wind to their backs after sitting in the cold for the last 20 minutes put on a display of ground and pound toughness that proved that they are worthy of a shot at this years division 5 championship. The Huskies went on a 18 play 8:09 minute touchdown drive capped by a timely counter dash to the end zone by #21 senior running back Dylan Bell. Huskies go up 14-0 and everyone at the game knew this was going to be the Huskies day!
Monadnock had several backs carry the ball but the 2 horses on the day where #44 Senior Bull Dozier Drew Bolewski 31 carries for 118 yards and the little fire plug 5'7" 160 lbs. Senior Dylan Bell ran for 57 yards on 20 carries. These numbers may not jump of the screen but this is what Monadnock is all about 3 or 4 yards at a time eating clock and controlling the ball. Vince Lombardi would be a big fan of Husky football!
Kearsarge Cougars and Coach Zach Matthews had an excellent season. A team lead by their star running back Oliver Gallo who had 36 yards on his first 2 carries but was held in check until a 66 yard touchdown catch in the final seconds of the game.
Coach Matthews said "I am very proud of my kids and the effort they gave all season. I have to give Monadnock a lot of credit today they were the better football team".
Monadnock defense limited Kearsarge to 158 total yards and 4 first downs the entire game. Their offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage the entire game lead by Brandon Wilfore, Ryan Faulkner, Matt Belcik, Cam VanValkenburg, Nick Paterson, Sam Bednar, and DJ Lotito.
This takes us to next weeks Division 5 State Championship game. At this point in the season I don't think Monadnock is going to change its colors! In their first meeting with Somersworth the Huskies dominated in the same fashion they did today against Kearsarge. The difference is that Monadnock knows that Hilltopper QB Drew Francouer is capable of special things. He almost single handily pulled off a miracle comeback against the Huskies in their first meeting. The key may be Josh Ream who was a non factor in their first meeting. Whatever the outcome these two teams are a great match up and have earned the right to play for this year's championship in D5!