There has been a lot of criticism of the new 3 division set up in New Hampshire high school football. Most of the criticism centers around the sub-conferences and the first round playoff set up. Overall I like the 3 division set up but there is no doubt that some tweaking needs to be done.
In division 3 there will be 2 teams with a 5-3 record that will not move on but because of the sub-conference set up there is 3 teams that have a 4-4 record that qualify for the playoffs?
Saturday’s match up between Newport and Mascoma could be considered a playoff game. Both teams enter the game with identical in state records of 5-2 but only the winner moves on to the playoffs next week.
On paper this looked like a dead even match up and for most of the first half it played out that way. Newport had the first real opportunity to get on the scoreboard. On their first possession they drove the ball all the way down to the Mascoma one yard line. On 4th down the Mascoma defense made a huge stop tackling the young Newport running back Noah Wade for an 8 yard loss.
Coach Ray Kershaw who has taken the Mascoma football program from a JV start up to a team that is competing for the playoffs on a yearly basis. Kershaw who coached the New Hampshire shrine team to another victory back in August is not afraid to roll the dice when it comes to trick plays. On a 4th down and 7 yards to go from there on 11 yard line Kershaw has his punter /quarterback Justin Marsh take off on a fake punt that netted 10 yards and a first down. Six plays later senior running back Kyle Kosiorek rewards his coach’s gamble with a 54 yard touchdown run. Mascoma strikes first and goes up 6-0.
Kershaw while the iron is hot rolls the dice again with an on-sides kick! This time lady luck turns her back and Newport recovers the ball in great field position at the Mascoma 45.
Newport is a young and talented team with tons of depth at all the skill positions. They feature as many as 6 running backs but the 3 main ball carriers are sophomore’s Noah Wade, CJ Lawerence, and junior Taner Sherman. At quarterback junior Tom Hogan has an accurate strong arm. They also have a couple kids who can catch the ball in sophomore Stephan Nix and senior Jeremy Farnham. Hogan and Nix get Newport on the scoreboard with a nicely executed 30 yard play action pass that allowed Nix to slip behind the Mascoma defense. Hogan delivered the ball right on the money into the outstretched arms of Nix. Newport is unable to execute the extra point and tie the score at 6-6.
Mascoma strikes back with a 25 yard option pitch from Marsh to junior Andrew Cashe. Mascoma is able to convert the 2 point conversion and go up 14-6. Newport answers back with a 7 play drive that featured a 23 yard pass from Hogan to Farnham and a short touchdown run of 2 yards by Lawerence. Newport closes the lead to 14-12.
The game to this point was dead even and it felt like this would be a battle to the end. A major shift in momentum happen when Noah Wade recovered a Mascoma fumble which gave Newport the ball at the Mascoma 42 with 1:35 to play in the half. Lawerence breaks a big 22 yard run and Hogan comes through again hitting Nix with a 13 yard touchdown pass on a 4th and 3. Newport goes in at halftime up 20-14 knowing they get the ball to start the 2nd half.
Coach Carle of Newport did a great job scouting and preparing his team. Newport started the 2nd half at the 45 and having a great read on Mascoma’s 4-4 defensive they go on a 7 play “all runs between between the tackles” drive right down the field for the back breaking touchdown of the game. This gives Newport a 28-14 lead and all the momentum has shifted to the Newport’s side off the field. Mascoma just wasn’t able to recover. This game was a very similar outcome to their game earlier in the season with Stevens. Very close even game in the first half and a totally different outcome in the 2nd half.
The 4-4 alignment has open gaps along the first level of the defense that need to be filled by the linebackers on the 2nd level. Newport’s defense was set up to take away the outside and coach Carle’s offensive line did a great job finding the open spaces along the first level and sealing off linebackers at the second level creating holes for Lawrence, Wade, and Sherman to run through.
A front five of Jake Leslie, Malachi Swenson, Patrick Hennig, Dan Tyminski, and Gunther Hubert took the game into their own hands and enabled Newport to dominate the rest of the game. Lawrence finished the day with 29 carries 184 yards 2 touchdowns while Sherman had 18 carries 99 yards 1 touchdown and Wade had 10 carries 59 yards.
The offensive line didn't allow a sack giving Hogan time to go 6 for 10, 91 yards and 3 touchdowns. The 2 tight ends Nix had 2 catches 43 yards and 2 touchdowns while Farnham had 2 catches 28 yards and 1 touchdown. That is the definition of balance in the offense. Eighty percent of that entire offense will be back next year. The future looks bright for the Newport Tigers!
Mascoma’s season comes to an end. They have had a great 2 year run! Senior running back Kyle Kosiorek ends his high school career as a 4 year varsity player and goes out with a very respectable 23 carries 149 yards and a touchdown. Also playing their last high school game were quarterback Justin Marsh, running back Eddie Bianco, running back Shane Pierce, lineman Sam Jones, and end Richard Stockwell. These young men are responsible for putting Mascoma on the map as a school that can play some competitive football.
With this big win coach Carle has to get his team ready for the big rematch with the Stevens Cardinals. A game that they lost 9-6 but also a game by all accounts could have gone either way. I commented in an earlier article that this very good Newport team maybe a year away from being a championship contender. This reporter may have to eat it his words in a couple weeks. I can guarantee one outcome next week’s match up over in Claremont is going to be a barn burner and a fun one to watch.