Tigers bare their teeth

  • Newport's Tyler Gobin (22) is pulled out of bounds by a Somersworth defender in the second half of the team's season opener. Newport won 24-7, in Newport, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. photo by Rick Russell

  • Newport's Jayden Conroy (12) pushes Somersworth ball carrier Jeff Dekome (2) off the field, during Newport's first game of the season, in Newport, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. photo by Rick Russell Rick Russell photographs

  • Newport's Karter Pollari (25), second from left,, snags a long pass while being covered by Somersworth's Blayne Belanger (21), Jordan Frost (7) and Tayshawn Sheppard (5) at right, Rick Russell photograph

  • Dylon Carpenter (57) Liam Almstrom (74) and Luke Bartlett (65) stand from l-r for the playing of the National Anthem, in Newport, N.H. on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Rick Russell photo. Rick Russell photograph—

  • Tyler Gobin (22) makes a dash for the endzone, in Newport, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Rick Russell photo. Rick Russell photograph—

  • Tyler Gobin (22) makes a dash for the endzone, in Newport, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Rick Russell photo. Rick Russell photograph—

  • Karter Pollari (25) sprints for more yardage in Newport, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Rick Russell photo Rick Russell photograph—

  • Karter Pollari (25) at far right celebrates his TD run with teammate Devyn Heino (37) at center, in Newport's home opener in Newport, N.H., on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Rick Russell photo Rick Russell photograph—

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/4/2021 8:49:23 PM
Modified: 9/8/2021 9:44:24 PM

NEWPORT — Kyle Ashley planned on being Newport High School’s starting quarterback this season, so he bulked up in preparation for the challenge, adding 40 pounds to his frame over a roughly six-month period.

The now-heftier sophomore was spectacular on Saturday, leading the Tigers to a 24-7 victory over Somersworth in the season opener for both NHIAA Division IV teams.

“I always hoped for it,” Ashley said of starting under center. “Because last year I played and we had the senior quarterback, Marius Edwards. ... He graduated, so I was hoping to take over that position and worked hard (for it).”

Ashley finished with 81 rushing yards and 80 passing yards, going 4-for-6 with one interception. He also scored a rushing touchdown to go along with a pair of two-point conversions.

The QB acknowledged after the game that household grocery bills likely trended upward while he was increasing his body mass.

“I definitely ate the Wheaties,” said Ashley, who also trained extensively with weights.

The QB’s 56-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter proved to be the winning score for Newport (1-0), which defeated the Hilltoppers (0-1) in last year’s D-IV championship, 42-0.

Ashley’s long run was almost a mirror image of Somersworth’s lone touchdown, which Calvin Lambert rushed in from 58 yards out. Hayden Grant followed with the extra point, giving the visitors a 7-0 lead after their opening drive.

The Hilltoppers’ early trip into the end zone seemed to awaken Newport.

“I was hoping to come out against a strong team,” said Tigers coach John Proper. “I didn’t want to get scored on first, but getting smacked in the mouth and seeing how the kids would react, that was a question I wasn’t sure. We haven’t had that, especially with this group. Going up through the years, they’ve been pretty much ... they haven’t had to come from behind.

“They reacted good. They didn’t lose their composure; they stuck to the game plan and we methodically ran the ball.”

Tyler Gobin was Newport’s leading rusher on the day with 116 yards. The junior running back also scored the Tigers’ first touchdown on a 5-yard sweep out to the right side with 3:34 remaining in the first quarter and later rushed for a two-point conversion following Ashley’s TD.

Karter Pollari was also prolific against the Hilltoppers, finishing with 83 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards. Pollari began the third quarter with three consecutive carries for 17, 2 and 34 yards en route to scoring a touchdown.

Darren Janicke helped spark Newport’s defense by intercepting Somersworth quarterback Jeff Dekorne shortly after a fumble by the hosts midway through the first quarter.

The Tigers’ strong performance on Saturday was to be expected, according to Somersworth head coach Jeremy Lambert.

“The only way you compete with Newport is to play perfect football,” Lambert said.

“And we were far from that today. … It was a good hard-nosed football game. It was going back and forth. We had some drives going and then we couldn’t finish, and that comes from not following through with our assignments. But we’re going to get that fixed.”

Although the Tigers and Hilltoppers won’t meet again during the regular season, the two teams may not yet be done with each other.

“We’ll see them again,” Proper said. “They are easily going to be one of the best teams in the division. They come hard; they’ll improve.”

Newport travels to Bishop Brady on Thursday night.




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