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Cards Continue Winning Ways

Claremont — After the first three games of the season, the Stevens High football team was 1-2.

“I remember looking at the standings and seeing us on the bottom,” Cardinal head coach Paul Silva recalled.

After a loss to Bow in the third game of the season, Silva talked to his players about making a commitment to the rest of the season and turning things around.

The players apparently listened well, closing the regular season Friday night with a 34-6 win over Raymond. The win was the Cardinals’ fifth straight and guarantees they will play in the New Hampshire Division III West Conference championship next weekend.

Stevens (6-2) entered the weekend with the same record as Mascoma and Newport (5-2); those two teams meet this afternoon.

Stevens’ point rating of 11.714 put it in first place going into the weekend, but the winner of the Mascoma-Newport game could garner enough points to take over the top spot. Regardless, Stevens will be playing one of those teams somewhere for the West title next weekend. The winner of the division crown will join the three other conference winners in the D-III tournament.

Silva said he was happy for his seniors, who made the postseason for three of their four years.

The Cards took control early as Raymond (0-8) kicked off to Nate White, who dashed 84 yards upfield for a touchdown without being touched. The Cardinals made it 34-0 by the half and played the underclassmen the final two periods.

The fact that Stevens didn’t get any more points in the second half was a particular relief to the Stevens cheerleaders, who do one pushup for each point following each score.

Even though he played only the first half, senior Donald Pellerin had 12 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. Pellerin has 17 touchdowns and 1,143 rushing yards this season.

The Cardinals got a few guys involved in the scoring who don’t necessarily see their way into the end zone. There was 270-pound lineman Noah Ladd with an 8-yard run from scrimmage and later 200-pound tackle Kai Kleyensteuber added a 3-yard touchdown rumble. Kleyensteuber’s run made the score 13-0.

Raymond gave a good account of itself the next two possessions and forced two Stevens punts. The Rams, however, had trouble moving the ball and Stevens took advantage of a short punt that resulted in freshman Devin Porter, at 5-foot-5 and 140 pounds, taking it from the 8-yard line on a sweep as the lead grew to 19-0.

Raymond tried putting the ball in the air on its next possession, but on its third consecutive pass attempt Pellerin intercepted the ball that led to a 27-0 lead when Pellerin took it in from five yards out, and freshman Richard Bell ran for the 2-point conversion.

During the drive, Bell had an 18-yard run and Pellerin added a 16-yard run.

Stevens made it 34-0 before the half when Bryar Rouillard tossed a 33-yard scoring strike to White, who made the catch while diving into the end zone.

The second half went fast as Stevens, its starters all done for the night, was content to run the ball and work the clock. Raymond did get something to cheer about when Keagao Mazo, a lineman, was given a chance to pass the ball and he connected on a 67-yard score to Norris Garrett, the Rams starting quarterback.

“We’re just continuing to get batter,” Silva said.

Before the game, a moment of silence was held for Paul’s father, Ralph, who passed away two weeks ago.