It is only week 5 of the 2013 New Hampshire football season but Saturday's outcome of Steven's Cardinals and the Mascoma Royals will have a major impact on who will be still around to play football in November. Steven's with 2 tough early season losses could not afford a third lose. Mascoma has only one loss but has a very tough Somersworth Hilltoppers coming to town next Saturday. Both coaches Paul Silva of Stevens and Ray Kershaw of Mascoma had their teams ready for a tough battle.
It was homecoming for Mascoma and the Royals were not going to be intimidated by a Stevens team that they hard never played before. The Royals' young history saw only 4 wins in their first 4 years of varsity play before they broke through last year making it all the way to the Division 6 championship game. Stevens is definitely a step up in talent from what they have faced in the past.
The Royals win the opening coin flip and come out with all guns blazing.
Lining up in their featured double wing offense they surprise the Cardinals with a fast paced no huddle attack taking it right to the defense. Boom, boom, boom they move the ball from their 18 all the way to the Steven's 48. With the Cardinal defense totally on their heels the Royals perfectly execute a play action pass that had quarterback #10 Justin Marsh hitting a wide open #11 Kyle Kosiorek behind the Cardinal defense for a 48 yard touchdown. Marsh runs in the extra point and the Royals land the first punch taking an 8-0 lead.
Steven's answers right back with a 10 play drive 'all runs' capped with Cardinal senior running back #8 Donald Pellerin scoring on a 4th down from 2 yards out. A #7 Bryer Rouliard extra point makes it 8-7.
Mascoma doesn't let up and drives deep into Cardinal territory. On a 4th down play they execute a middle trap opening a huge hole in the Cardinal defense but some how the running back trips over a blade of grass and the Royal's come up just short on a potential scoring drive.
Steven's goes on a 10 play drive with Pellerin scoring again from the 1, taking a 14-8 lead. The big play in the drive was a 35 yard pass from one of the Steven's 2 quarterback's Bryer Rouliard to #44 Nathaniel White.
I saw Steven's beat Somersworth the first week of the season and Pellerin was the show carrying the ball 39 times. I commented that Stevens needed to develop more than one just weapon? I don't know where White was in that game but I can tell anyone who plays Steven's in the future they better account for #44. he is a talent on both sides of the ball!
Mascoma fights back and ties the game 14 -14 late in the second quarter with an electric run by the Royal's running back junior #15 Andrew Cashe. Cashe is a flashy back that runs hard with great instincts offensively! He also makes a big impact from the Royal defensive secondary.
The Royals had the homecoming crowd on their feet going into halftime giving Steven's all they could handle .
Steven's runs a 2 quarterback system. Rouliard is the possession QB used more in the running game. Their other QB is #2 Ryan Tanquay and at 6' 3"he is used in their spread passing game. Tanquay has a soft touch throwing the short underneath passes and he also can go up top with the long ball!
Stevens started the 2nd half with Tanquay in the spread. Rouliard tweaked his knee at the end of the 1st half but he was able to return later in the game. It didn't Tanquay long to find White and on the 2nd play they hooked up for a 29 yard gain. Pellerin finished the drive scoring from the 1 for his 3rd of 4 touchdowns on the day. Stevens takes the lead at a 21-14.
Mascoma is a tough well coached team. They have a lot of fight and they have some kids who don't mind lowering the shoulder and laying the wood. Cashe makes the of the run of the day with a 60 yard dash to the end zone on a razzle dazzle counter criss-cross. Justin Marsh gives Mascoma a 22-21 lead on a QB sweep.
After both teams traded turnovers Tanquay hits White for a 73 yard bomb to take the go ahead touchdown. Stevens up 28-22.
Coach Silva had picked up on the Mascoma defense leaving White in man to man coverage when Stevens went to the spread. Stevens sent 3 receivers to the left and put White split out to the right on an island with the corner and no safety help over the top. White made one move and went deep! Tanquay hit White in stride!
The Royals ran out of razzle dazzle after scoring on their first possession in the 2nd half the Stevens defense held them scoreless in the next 7 possessions.
The big Cardinal offensive line of #66 Cody Wirkkala ,#64 Noah Ladd, #55 Robbie Knight, #53 Kai Kleyensteuber, and #51 Christain Stone were the difference in the 4th quarter getting the offense into the end zone 2 more times for a final score of 42-22.
Both teams have playoff hopes but will be tested with some must win big games.
Mascoma has Somersworth at home next week and the big one is Newport at home the last game of the season. That will probably be a win to get in scenario for both teams.
Stevens also has Newport as must win game in a couple weeks.
One of the real pleasures of reporting on division 3 football is the quality of the games and the teams. The schools are smaller but the coaching is excellent and the entertainment is off the charts.
The teams may not be able to compete against the big schools but every team has 1 or 2 players that could play at any level. Shoutout to Jesiah Wade tearing up the record books in D-1 and a former D-6 player. He was a pleasure to cover.