Road warriors: Newport football throttles Somersworth for NHIAA D-IV championship

  • Newport's Josh Sharron hoists the hardware in Somersworth, N.H., as the team celebrates their 42-0 NHIAA D-IV football state championship win over Somersworth on Nov. 14, 2020. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • On the second offensive play of the game, Newport quarterback Marius Edwards escapes the grasp of Somersworth tacklers to run in for a touchdown as teammate Ryder Lovely celebrates in the NHIAA D-IV football state championship in Somersworth, N.H., on Nov. 14, 2020. Newport won, 42-0. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • Newport's Jagger Lovely spins out of a tackle attempt by Somersworth's Emilio Estevez in the second quarter as Gio Arscott closes in during the NHIAA D-IV football state championship in Somersworth, N.H., on Nov. 14, 2020. Newport won, 42-0. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Newport Tigers football team reaches out and touches their NHIAA D-IV state championship trophy after defeating Somersworth 42-0 in Somersworth, N.H., on Nov. 14, 2020. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/14/2020 9:36:58 PM
Modified: 11/14/2020 9:36:47 PM

SOMERSWORTH, N.H. — When John Proper took over the Newport High football program in 2019, he said he would make players accountable and bring back the strong tradition of football back to Newport.

On Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field, the second-year coach lived up to his words. Employing their stingy defense and powerful rushing attack, the top-seeded Tigers blew past No. 2 Somersworth, 42-0, in the NHIAA Division IV championship game.

Newport racked up 332 yards of total offense while allowing the Hilltoppers to gain only 3 yards. Jagger Lovely was a workhorse, carrying the ball 18 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

The victory brings the Tigers their 10th state crown and their first since 2015. The game was played in Somersworth based off of win percentage, despite the seedings shuffling out differently.

“We were just on,” Lovely said. “We didn’t make too many mental mistakes, and the momentum never stopped.”

The Tigers’ Marius Edwards booted an onside kick to open the game, which was recovered by Ryder Lovely. Two plays later, Edwards kept the ball on a quarterback keeper and scampered around the right edge for a 35-yard touchdown run, putting the Tigers up, 6-0, just 46 seconds into the contest.

Newport (7-1) held the lead for the rest of the game, never leaving any doubt. It forced a Somersworth four-and-out on the next possession, then pieced together a 96-yard drive over eight minutes and 14 plays.

Edwards capped it off with an 11-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-4. The Tigers led, 12-0, at the end of the first quarter.

“Best part of the whole game was they didn’t score a single point,” said Edwards, who also plays linebacker. “That feels great. This (winning a state championship) feels like nothing else. Just such a good feeling.”

Newport started with possession at the beginning of the second quarter and took 4 minutes, 53 seconds off the clock with a nine-play drive spanning 59 yards, finished by a 17-yard Bryce Willey run.

Somersworth (2-1) fumbled the ball twice in the second quarter, and each time Newport’s Devyn Heino jumped on it for the recovery. The first was recovered at the Hilltoppers’ 19-yard line with 4:21 to play in the half.

Newport needed only two plays to capitalize, thanks to a 14-yard touchdown run from Lovely. The Tigers led, 28-0, at the half.

“That’s a buzzsaw of a team right there,” Somersworth coach Jeremy Lambert said. “They handed it to a lot of teams across many divisions. The only way you can compete with that is to play perfect football. We didn’t do that today.”

Edwards found Josh Sharron for a 45-yard touchdown completion in the third quarter. And Lovely motored in for his second score with 38 seconds remaining in the third to close out the Tigers’ scoring.

The Newport defense shut down the Hilltoppers, not allowing them to earn a first down until the fourth quarter. Karter Pollari intercepted a Logan Bryant pass in the second quarter as the Tigers forced four turnovers.

Willey said the team decided in the preseason to bring back a skull-and-crossbones sticker on Newport helmets for any defensive achievement, such as a tackle or interception. The Tigers finished the season with only 43 points allowed in eight games, just six in the postseason.

They have a lot of stickers.

“Every week, we address the team we’re playing and adjust,” he said.

With NHIAA Division IV state championship medals in hand, Proper talked to his team 15 minutes after it had won.

The second-year coach discussed the 15 seniors who built the core of his team: Willey, Edwards, Chase Hamilton, Ryder Lovely, Tanner Proper, Tyler Gobin, Sharron, Jagger Lovely, Caleb Turgeon, Hunter Brunt, Hayden Patenaude, Josh Orlowski, Adriano Urista, Nick Hogan and Adam Whipple.

And he talked about the state championship victory just being the foundation of what he’s trying to build for the future at Newport.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” John Proper said. “We’re going to be strong for many years, and there will be more of these trophies to come.”

Notes: Newport fans lined the sidelines with cowbells and decorated their side of the field with orange and black balloons. An airplane flew over Memorial Field prior to kickoff with “Go Tigers!” written on the bottom of the aircraft’s wings. ... Sharron finished the day with two catches for 58 yards, and Edwards was 3-of-4 for 74 yards with an interception. The quarterback also ran nine times for 78 yards and two scores. ... Jagger Lovely finishes the year with an Upper Valley-best 933 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. ... The Tigers scored 328 points in eight games. They averaged 41 points per game. ... Towle High School was the school in Newport before Newport High School was founded in 1967. Towle won football titles in 1952, 1961, 1963 and 1964. ... Since 1972, when the NHIAA adopted its playoff format, Newport has gone 271-177, good for a .605 win percentage.

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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