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When will we stop underestimating the Stevens football team?
No one was overlooking the defending champs last weekend but the totality of their 33-6 win at Somersworth was surprising none the less.
Hilltoppers leading rusher Christian Abkarian (who had 250 yards in the regular season meeting between the two teams) did not play because of disciplinary reasons. That helps explain why Somersworth was held to only 6 points.
It does not provide a reason for why they gave up 33.
This weekend the champs travel to Campbell with no fear and a confidence that they are again peaking at the right time of the season.
Today we take a look at the two semifinal games in Division III
Stevens (6-3) at Campbell (9-0)
Paul Silva’s Cardinals knocked off Somersworth last weekend and now face the team many consider to be the favorite in Division III.
To pull a second consecutive upset Stevens is going to have to hold their own at the line of scrimmage. Aidan Cahill, Nick Stone, and Brendan Bean are the foundation of what has been really good play on both lines. Sophomore Tucker Derosier has seemingly played better by the week and Phillip Mason (6’4 345 lbs.) is another sophomore who has come on of late
The Campbell offensive line, led by center Matt Graveline and guards Logan DeCarolis & Leo Carten, have paved the way for 1,000-yard rushers Ryan Yanuszewski and Keegan Mills. Greg Gush’s offense includes a lot of misdirection and even Mills throwing the ball from the backfield to receivers like Nick Boucher & Carter Vedrani.
Stevens all-state back Keaghan McAllister was immense last weekend in rushing for 164 yards and three scores in the win over 3rd seeded Somersworth. McAllister, like Derosier and Mason, is only a sophomore.
In other words, Stevens isn’t going anywhere, no matter what the result is Saturday at Campbell.
Newport (8-1) at Monadnock (9-0)
A lot of people will compare this game to Stevens being blown out last season during a regular season match-up against Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough and then completely turning the tables in Durham by dominating the Championship game against the Lakers.
The point to be made; beware of overlooking adjustments and a better performance the second time around.
That’s fair…the difference here though is that Newport was dominated by Monadnock in the second to last game of the regular season where the Stevens loss to Inter-Lakes was in early October of 2016.
Can Rich Boone’s team turn the tables on Saturday?
It begins with the Tigers offense. John Thibault, who won the Division III rushing title as a sophomore, was held completely in check by the Huskies defense the first time around. Thibault ran the ball 8 times for minus 3 yards. Minus….meaning in 8 carries the leading rusher in Division III couldn’t get back to the line of scrimmage.
Newport’s offensive line will have to do a much impactful job the second time around. In the first meeting the Monadnock offensive line led by Nate Alley, Alec Lepisto and Eli Clark dominated Newport in the trenches and if Newport is unable to run the football it takes away from their ability to have Ethan Houde throw the football.
Whether its scheme or effort, both of which will be better than the regular season meeting, Newport has to make a statement early.
This is a veteran crew with a very good coaching staff; expect Newport to be ready Saturday afternoon.