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Stevens Football Drops Third Straight

  • Former Newport football player John Thibault.

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/20/2018 12:00:51 AM
Modified: 10/20/2018 12:01:05 AM

Claremont — The Stevens High football season, which started out so promising, is now on life support.

The Cardinals, who won their first five games, took it on the chin for the third straight week, with Trinity supplying the latest blow in a 39-6 rout on Friday night at Barnes Park.

It was Stevens’ last home game of the regular season, and Friday’s defeat almost assures the Cardinals of a road game for the first round of the NHIAA Division III tournament next month.

“We just have to make plays,” Stevens coach Paul Silva said. “They make plays, and we just can’s seem to tackle and make plays when it counts. We’re also banged up, and football is tough enough when you are at full strength. Still, we’ve got to get better in the basics.”

While Stevens has clinched a spot in the eight-team tourney, each loss puts the Cardinals in danger of visiting a top-tier team to start things off.

All of which means that the Cardinals’ game next Saturday against Hillsboro Deering-Hopkinton in Hillsboro, N.H., is vital. While the Hillcats are 4-3, they own victories over Lebanon and Laconia, two teams that defeated Stevens, and suffered a narrow loss to Trinity, 14-6.

The eight teams that have a spot already in the postseason are Monadnock, Campbell, Trinity, Stevens, Laconia, Hillsboro Deering-Hopkinton, Lebanon and Somersworth.

Playing a big role in Friday’s defeat was former Newport High running back John Thibault.

The junior had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons as a Tiger but transferred to Trinity after his family moved to the Manchester area.

Thibault had a relatively quiet first half with 42 yards on six rushes from his halfback spot. But he ran the second-half kickoff back for an 87-yard touchdown and later had a 65-yard TD run from scrimmage. He ended up with 119 yards on 10 carries and he also caught a 15-yard pass.

Although both teams came into the game with the same record, the Pioneers (6-2) figured to be the favorite based on the strength of schedule, have two losses at the hands of Monadnock and Campbell — Division III’s only undefeated teams before Monadnock’s 36-14 win over Campbell on Friday.

Bad snaps and poor tackling, along with failure to take advantage of red zone situations, have hampered Stevens in recent weeks. The Cardinals failed to move the ball after taking the opening kickoff, and on fourth down from their own 25-yard line, a bad snap gave Trinity the ball on Stevens 1. From there, Jesper Foiugere took it in for the TD.

The Pioneers boosted the lead to 13-0 in the second quarter. The Cardinals found some life and had a first-and-goal from the Trinity 5, but ended up on the 6 after four plays.

It remained 13-0 at the break, but in the first 12 seconds of the second half the air left the Stevens balloon. Thibault took the second-half kickoff on his 13, ran about 20 yards up the middle and made his way to the outside and down the sideline, where nobody could catch him on an 87-yard TD.

The Stevens touchdown came on the last play of the third quarter, with quarterback Quentin Bicknell taking it in.

The key play during the 76-yard drive was a punishing 37-yard run by Baylor Rozzell, who rushed for 81 yards on the night.

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