Birds of a Feather: Stevens, Bow Seeking to Write a New Chapter
Brandon Bell, left, and Ryan Tanguay listen to coaching instructions during football practice in Claremont, N.H. on November 20, 2013. Stevens will face off against Bow in the state championship at Bow today. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Cardinals defensive back Devin Porter tackles a dummy during football practice in Claremont, N.H. on November 20, 2013. Stevens will face off against Bow in the state championship at Bow today. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Cardinals defensive coordinator Erik Anderson, center, instructs players during a drill at practice in Claremont, N.H. on November 20, 2013. Stevens will face off against Bow in the state championship at Bow today. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Claremont — When high school teams win state championships on the road, the team’s return is often greeted at the edge of town by police cars flashing their lights and fire trucks blaring their sirens.
That sort of postgame celebration hasn’t been seen around Claremont since the 1989 Stevens boys soccer team won the NHIAA Class I title. That could all change on Saturday when the Stevens football team travels to Bow for the Division III championship.
The last time a Stevens football team won state title was 1968, and the only other opportunity since then came when the Cardinals lost on a late-game field goal at Hanover in the 2005 D-IV championship.
Stevens will enter the game as the underdog, having lost at Bow 28-14 on Sept. 21.
“There were a lot of mistakes in the game, and both teams have really gotten better since then,” said Bow coach Paul Cohen.
In fact, neither team has lost since that day. The Cardinals (8-2) will take a seven-game win streak into the game while Bow (9-1) has won its last nine after opening the season with a 7-0 loss to Pelham.
The Cardinals can expect a good local turnout when they take the field today. Stevens fans plan to start tailgating for the 1 p.m. game at 10:30 a.m. in the Bow Memorial Middle School parking lot. The athletic department will set up a tent and provide music and bottled water. At 12:30 p.m., the Stevens band and spirit team will lead the fans from the parking lot to the field.
‘It should produce a sea of red and should be awesome,” said Stevens athletic director Aaron House in a news release.
Cohen said the Bow community is pumped as well. “We’ve never hosted a state championship game,” he said. “We’re really excited.”
The Bow coach has been leading the Falcons for 13 seasons, winning a state championship in 2004 while losing in the semifinals three other times — 2002, 2007 and 2009 — in the school’s 16-year history.
Both Cohen and Stevens coach Paul Silva said their teams are healthy for the title game. Stevens will also have wideout Nate White available. White sat during last week’s semifinal win over Newport for disciplinary reasons.
When the two teams met back in September, the Falcons held Stevens scatback Don Pellerin to fewer than 100 yards for the only time during the regular season. Pellerin, who equates the excitement of a football game to Christmas morning, has scored 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,399 yards. He’s only 160 pounds and has carried the ball 255 times without missing any key playing time.
Both teams had a relatively easy go in their semifinals, Stevens downing Epping-Newmarket and Bow taking care of InterLakes-Moultonborough.
“In a game like this, it comes down to who can execute and make the fewest mistakes,” said Silva. “We’ve done a good job of protecting the ball and limiting penalties. That has to continue for one more game.”
When Stevens lost to Bow, it dropped them to 1-2 on the season. Silva said he talked to the team after that game and challenged them to make something of the season.
“(Bow) controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage, and we kept giving them a short field,” said Silva. “We knew that we were going to have get more physical and we’ve done that.
“I told them after that game it was up to them if they wanted to make something out of this season.”
Now they have one more chance to make history, too.