By: Ross Laorenza
Allegations have been swirling around the Epping-New Market football program after the dismissal of two members of their coaching staff in the past two weeks. The off-the-field issues did not affect the on field product, as the Blue Devils rolled to a 33-6 win over rival Raymond, winning their fifth straight Spotted Turtle Trophy in the process.
“It was a hard fought game this week, with all the distractions,” said Blue Devil’s Coach Justin Leonard. “I’m proud of the kids for all the hard work they’ve done. They’ve had a great week of practice; the best week of practice throughout the year. They were going to be ready for Raymond. This is a big game for them, a game of pride; and they responded very, very well,” he added.
Epping-Newmarket got off to an excellent start of the ground. Senior Alex Toribio (#43) took the team first play from scrimmage over 40 yards and set the Blue Devil’s up inside the red zone. Two plays later, senior, Jeremy Epso (#20) rushed up the middle for the team’s first touchdown of the night.
Epping-Newmarket’s coaching staff has install the spread offense this season, converting from last year’s power rushing attack. The spread gave quarterback Jake Bisaillion (#12) multiple option out of the backfield and on the end edge. The hurry up often left Raymond’s defense on their heels in the early going.
The Blue Devil defense played very well in tonight’s game. After the offense fumbled on the 1-yard line, on the cusp of scoring, the BD defense forced a turnover possession back for their team. Jake Bissaillion took the QB draw of first down into the end zone for the 1-yard rush. At the end of the 1st quarter, Epping-New Market: 14, Raymond: 0.
The Ram’s offense showed some flashes in the first half. Facing a third and long quarterback Dylan Greenwood (#16) connected on a 27 yard pass to Gregory Gibby (#36). Greenwood was under constant pressure from the Blue Devil front seven. Defensive end, turned outside linebacker Jared Vincent (#41) wreaked havoc in the passing game with back-to-back sacks and numerous QB pressures. Vincent can really move off the edge and will be a difficult blocking assignment for a tackle or running-back to handle on his own.
After a turnover on downs the Blue Devils took over at their own 30 yard line. After Toribio got stuffed twice at the line, Bisaillion took to the air connecting with Matt Furey (#88) for a 70 yard touchdown pass. Furey showed some amazing moves as he zigged and zagged through the Ram defense on the way to the end zone. Extra point was no good.
Raymond would score their only points after a turnover by Epping. A high snap resulted in Ram possession inside the 10 yard line. Three plays later Dylan Greenwood took a bootleg to the right side, made one defender miss and lunged for the end zone. Touchdown Raymond. Epping-New Market surged forward and blocked the extra point, snuffing out any momentum the Ram’s wished to gather.
In the final seconds of the half Bisaillion connected on a 19 yard touchdown pass to #27 Noah Armstrong. The Blue Devils ran a nice route combination to free up Armstrong. With both wide receivers running streaks, on the numbers and the seam, the Raymond safety had no choice but to pick of the two wide outs. His choice left Armstrong open in the end zone for the score.
At the half, Epping-New Market: 26, Raymond: 6.
Raymond would receive the second half kickoff and try to climb back into the game, but another costly turnover end in disaster. Dylan Greenwood passed out into the flat for Gregory Gibby, but the ball slipped through Gibby’s hands. The pass was a backwards lateral and an aware Noah Armstrong, playing corner back, scooped up the ball and took 23 yards for a touchdown. The play was very close, but officials determined it was a lateral and the score held. 33-6 Epping-New Market.
Having observed several Division III teams in the past few weeks it is tough to decide which team I would give the edge to head-to-head. Inter-Lakes put on a solid rushing performance last week against Somersworth on the road. Epping’s spread can give a defense fits when run at full speed. I think the rushing attack from Inter-Lakes give them a slight advantage, but with the way the Blue Devil defense gets after the ball, the Lakes would have to rely more on the passing game and junior quarterback Ryan Kelly.
Raymond and Somersworth are both tough football teams as well. Carl Mueller (#62) played excellent in the second half for the Rams. Mueller came up with several tackles to loss as the Rams tried to clamp down on the Blue Devil running game. Somersworth held Inter-Lakes scoreless in the second half, after allowing 33 points in the first half last week. If the Hilltoppers can get ahead with their grinding running game they can chew up yardage and the clock in a hurry. The season is still young. It will be interesting to see how things unfold as we head into the Fall.
Final score Epping-New Market: 33, Raymond: 6.
From Raymond, New Hampshire, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook