Winnisquam quarterback Parker Normand stiff arms a Newport defender to gain the edge during first quarter action on Sept. 15. The host Bears routed Newport, 40-6, in Division VI action. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 17, 2012TILTON – Hunter Karwocki was confident his teammates would respond on Sept. 15 after a disappointing road trip to Newfound the week before.
The Bears didn't let him down.
The Winnisquam Regional High School senior tailback ran for 144 yards and three touchdowns, leading his team back into the win column in a convincing 40-6 rout of Newport High School at the Route 132 Field.
"This is a tight-knit group and I think we're all back on the same page," explained Karwocki, whose team fell to Newfound, 42-19, in Week 2. "We didn't come out the way we wanted to last week against Newfound so all week at practice we were loud, yelling, getting ourselves ready for this game."
Winnisquam (2-1) looked very sharp in the early-going, as the Bears marched 75 yards on their opening drive in 15 plays. Senior Austin Hunt capped off the seven-minute, eight-second drive with a two-yard touchdown run to put the hosts up 6-0 with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
The Bears wouldn't have to wait long to get the ball back however, as the ensuing kickoff was put near the sideline and recovered by a hustling Curtis Archibald at the Newport 32, putting Winni quarterback Parker Normand and the offense right back in business.
"That was unexpected," said a chuckling Winnisquam coach Pat Riberdy of the kick recovery. "But we were in a good position and were able to take advantage of the opportunity."
The Bears did indeed cash in from the turnover, as a 13-yard run from Pat Sanborn helped set up a six-yard TD scamper from Karwocki with 2:10 left in the opening frame. Normand connected with Thomas Mahoney for the two-point conversion pass, and the Bears led 14-0 before the Newport offense even ran one play.
"We definitely felt good about that start," said Riberdy. "Something like that can deflate a team a little bit so we were able to put some points on the board and make them come from behind the rest of the way."
Normand stopped the first Newport drive in its path with an interception, and Winnisquam extended its lead early in the second quarter. A steady diet of running behind the big line of Dakota VanTassel, Patrick Boyle, Tyler Labonte, Mason Taylor, Jacob Fuller and Evan Byers allowed Karwocki to rip off big chunks of yardage, and he scored his second TD of the afternoon on a two-yard run with 7:29 left in the second for a 21-0 lead after Sanborn kicked the extra point.
"The linemen on this team are the best," lauded Karwocki. "I just saw green in front of me for a bunch of plays. I love running behind these guys."
Riberdy was also pleased with what he saw from the big boys up front, as they controlled the line of scrimmage all day long.
"We've got some quick backs so when we can get an explosion from our offensive line, good things usually happen with our running game," the coach said.
While it looked as though the Bears would take the commanding lead into the locker room, Newport finally struck for its first score with 1:14 remaining. Taking advantage of a Winnisquam fumble, the Tigers scored on a 54-yard screen pass to cut the deficit to 21-6. Prior to that big play, the Bears had held Newport to an incredible minus two yards of offense in the first half.
"We know Newport pretty well at this point and we know they like to throw the ball underneath," explained Riberdy. "So we talked about not giving up the big plays and that was really the only big one that we allowed."
It was all Winnisquam in the second half, as the Bears extended the lead to 28-6 with 2:48 left in the third quarter when Normand picked off his second pass of the day on defense and returned it 70 yards to the house. VanTassel made the big hit on the quarterback on the play, allowing Normand to jump the route and sprint up the sideline for the defensive TD.
Karwocki would finish his 21-carry afternoon in the fourth quarter, as he scored on a six-yard carry with 8:13 left to give the Bears a 34-6 lead with his third rushing score.
Andrew Serrano capped off the Winnisquam scoring just over three minutes later, as he made it 40-6 with an impressive 36-yard run to paydirt.
The Winnisquam offense amassed over 300 yards on the ground, with Christian Serrano (seven carries, 50 yards), Hunt (13 carries, 55 yards), Sanborn (four carries, 24 yards) and Andrew Serrano (two carries, 38 yards) providing plenty of depth behind Karwocki.
"We can run with a variety of guys and we've got a lot of speed and depth in the backfield which we were able to use today," Riberdy said.
Next up for the Bears is a trip to Gilford on Sept. 22, as the Division VI foes will meet at the Meadows in Gilford at 1:30 p.m.
NOTES: Normand was just 1-of-2 passing the ball, as he completed a one-yard gainer to Karwocki just before halftime. He actually caught as many passes as he attempted, on defense that is, as Normand finished with the two interceptions… Byers, Fuller and Jacob Gove all recorded sacks to pace Winnisquam's defense… The Bears weren't perfect in this one, turning the ball over three times on the afternoon, including one on a punt return… It was the home opener for the Bears, as the team opened the year with a Friday night win at Raymond before falling to Newfound in its first-ever home game in Bristol.