’Tis the Season for Winter in Hanover Football Victory

  • Hanover's Mason Winter.

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, September 07, 2018

Hanover — Mason Winter hasn’t done much throwing in his first two games as the senior quarterback of Hanover High’s football team. He attempted only one pass for minus-2 yards in week 1 and attempted only four in Friday’s game against Hollis Brookline at Merriman-Branch Field.

One just happened to be when his team needed it most.

Winter sent the game-winning touchdown pass to senior tight end Jeffrey Hold with 5 minutes, 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter, a 55-yard catch-and-run that put the ground-and-pound Marauders up for good in an eventual 20-14 win over the high-flying Cavaliers.

Hanover has opened up the season with back-to-back wins, both of which came in dramatic fashion; the Marauders scored a late touchdown against Kennett in a 27-20 victory last week, all in a wing-T offense around senior running back Simon Roach and an offensive line that has done nothing but impress fourth-year head coach Sam Cavallaro since training camp.

“When you look at the personnel that we had, the strength of our team that really worked in the offseason was our O-line,” Cavallaro said.

“When we saw us in the scrimmages, we kind of liked that tight look. Mason, he can throw the ball. We’ll be able to do that type of thing. We just felt like we had a good (strategy to pull it off).”

The Marauders, who have relied on a combination of both pass and run in the past few years under Cavallaro, have adopted something of a run-first attack this season. Hanover ran 62 plays against Hollis Brookline, 58 on the ground.

Roach has become the focal point, running 32 times for 134 yards and a touchdown against the Cavaliers. John Loftus added 12 rushes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Caleb Morse contributed 35 yards on eight carries.

The Marauders finished the game with 212 yards on the ground.

“Losing Caleb Putnam (to graduation), he was such a big part of our team (last year),” said Roach, who rushed 22 times for 211 yards at Kennett.

“I knew whatever chance I got, I’d have to step up and that I had to give everything I could to help the team.”

The game plan, Cavallaro said, was keeping Hollis Brookline junior quarterback Sander Wimmer and the Cavaliers’ offense on the sidelines. It did just that in the first half.

Hanover’s offense was on the field for 20:53 of the first half’s 24 minutes, all on two slow, meticulous marches downfield that ended in touchdowns. Roach scored on the Marauders’ opening drive, 70 yards on 13 plays that took 6:55. Loftus scored on their second drive, which covered 84 yards on 17 plays.

When Hollis Brookline’s offense did manage to get on the field, it looked deadly. Wimmer, working with as many as four wide receivers for most of the night, finished the game 15-for-26 in the air for 174 yards and an interception. He also rushed for 83 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to spark the Cavaliers’ comeback from a 14-0 deficit.

“We had to keep (number) 14 off the field,” Cavallaro said of Wimmer. “(Defensive coordinator Mike Ivanoski) said he was one of the best quarterbacks he’s seen in 20 years. I think we did that in the first half. I don’t know how many possessions he had, but it wasn’t many.”

Hollis Brookline was stopped twice in the red zone on fourth-down attempts. Hanover, meanwhile, converted on three fourth downs in the first half and led, 14-0, at the break.

The Marauders had their chance to extend the lead, marching 64 yards on 11 plays to the Hollis 1-yard line on their first drive of the second half. But the Cavaliers stood tall, stopping Loftus at the goal line to keep the score the same.

“Teams that run the ball are going to try to slow it down and shorten the game,” Hollis Brookline coach Chris Lones said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot tonight. We made too many mistakes.”

The Cavaliers responded from the momentum shift, with Brandon Iodice finishing off a 12-play, 99-yard drive with a 10-yard TD run with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Hollis Brookline trailed, 14-8, after the converted 2-point try.

The visitors’ next drive, after a quick Hanover four-and-out, ended in an interception by Winter to start the fourth quarter. But Wimmer made the Marauders pay minutes later, running 53 yards down the left sideline to tie the game, 14-14. The 2-point conversion was stuffed by Hanover’s defense with 8:04 left on the clock.

Cavallaro then went to Winter’s arm, attempting three passes — all completions — in Hanover’s next drive. Winter’s last throw ended in the end zone, finding a streaking Holt between the hash marks for a 20-14 lead.

“You’ve got to be a little bit more balanced,” Cavallaro said of the Cavaliers and their halftime adjustments. “We’ll run a different game plan depending on who we’re playing. But our philosophy in the first half was, ‘This is exactly what we want. They’re not stopping us.’ If people aren’t stopping us, we’re not going to adjust.”

Hanover (2-0) travels to Kingswood on Friday.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.