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Mother Nature dampens Kennett Homecoming


Football team rolls on Saturday, volleyball falls to Bobcats Friday night



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CHRISTIAN RIVERS powers the ball up the field during Homecoming action Oct. 2. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 01, 2010
NORTH CONWAY — Mother Nature sure knows how to ruin a party.

The Kennett community was set to celebrate Homecoming 2010 with four games on Friday evening, Oct. 1, but the rain that ripped through the Mount Washington Valley throughout the day on Friday led to the postponement of three of those games, effectively quieting the Homecoming celebration.

The field hockey and girls' soccer teams both had home games postponed until later in the month, while the football team's traditional Homecoming game was pushed back a day, with Kennett welcoming Merrimack Valley on Saturday night.

The only game that went on as scheduled for Homecoming on Friday night was the only one that is played indoors. The Kennett volleyball team welcomed Oyster River to town for that contest.

Football

While Mother Nature was able to dampen the celebration of Homecoming on Friday night, she apparently made the Eagles even hungrier for victory and Saturday night, Merrimack Valley was easy prey.

The Eagles dominated from the opening kickoff and never looked back, polishing off a 54-0 victory before a large crowd at chilly Gary Millen Stadium.

Before seven minutes was gone in the game, there had been five changes of possession and the Eagles were up 13-0.

The first drive of the game turned out to be all the Eagles needed. Nick Massa ran for five yards on the opening play and Jesse Wheeler hit Mike Lautenschlager for a first down. Matt Gadomski ran for 15 yards for another first down and Massa broke free for another 10 yards to bring the Eagles to the 20-yard line. On second down, Spoor carried for 16 yards, moving the ball to the four-yard line and Massa carried in from there. Spoor booted the extra point and it was 7-0 with 8:38 to play in the first quarter.

Valley took over on the 20-yard line and on the second play, the visitors fumbled the ball. Conor McDonald pounced on the loose ball and the Eagles had the ball back at the 18-yard line.

Wheeler then hit Gadomski on a screen pass, but the ball was stripped from the running back's hands and bounced into the end zone, where Merrimack Valley recovered for a touchback, giving them the ball again at the 20-yard line.

However, strong defense from Levi Bescos, Tucker Paven and Duncan Cromwell forced the Pride to go three and out.

They punted the ball away and Gadomski quickly made up for his earlier fumble by twisting and turning his way down the field for a 65-yard punt return touchdown. Spoor slipped on the still wet field as he attempted the extra point, so the score stood at 13-0 with 5:17 to play in the first quarter.

The Eagle defense was in the backfield consistently on the next Valley drive, but a big penalty allowed the visitors a first down. However, after Bescos and Paven stuffed a running attempt, Austin Weber stepped in front of a pass and gave the Eagles the ball back with only 27 yards to go to the end zone.

After Massa carried for 12 yards on first down, a penalty pushed the Eagles back to the 20-yard line. However, Wheeler hit Spoor with a screen pass and the senior dodged and weaved his way through defenders and into the end zone. He also booted the extra point and the Eagles had a 20-0 lead with 1:42 to play in the first quarter.

Valley went three and out again and punted to end the first quarter. The Eagles took over near midfield and needed just four plays to get the ball to the end zone. Massa picked up 13 yards on the first play and a toss to Gadomski picked up another 12 yards. A penalty pushed the Eagles all the way to the 12-yard line and two carries later, Massa was in the end zone for a 27-0 lead with 10:14 to play in the half.

The Eagle defense continued to shine, as Paven and McDonald made their presence known in the Pride backfield on the next drive and McDonald also broke up a third-down pass, forcing the Pride to punt.

Gadomski took the first play from scrimmage and ran 34 yards to put the Eagles at the 13-yard line. He then carried in for Kennett's fifth touchdown of the game and a 34-0 lead with 7:32 to play in the half.

Valley again went three and out and Gadomski responded by returning another punt for a touchdown, this time going 60 yards for the score. Spoor booted the extra point and the Eagles had a 41-0 lead with 4:15 to play.

On the third drive of Valley's next play, Tim Currier hauled in an interception on the sideline, giving the Eagels the ball back. Massa quickly led them down the field, moving the ball to the one-yard line on three carries and Wheeler took it in from there for a score. The extra point was no good, but the Kennett kids had a 47-0 lead with 1:17 to go in the half.

Valley quietly killed off the rest of the first half clock and the teams headed to the second half with running time on the scoreboard.

Valley went three and out, but Kennett went on a run that ate up the rest of the third quarter clock. Weber, Christian Rivers and Billy Chick handled the running duties for the Eagles as quarterback Anthony LaRusso went under center. The Eagles moved the ball 59 yards and Rivers carried in for the touchdown with three seconds left on the third quarter clock. The extra point was good and with one quarter to play, the Eagles had a 54-0 lead.

Mike Emanuelson recovered a fumble on Merrimack's first play of the next drive, but the Eagles turned the ball over on downs and the Pride, with time winding down, finally got a first down, converting two in the final drive as the clock ticked down to zero and the Eagles had the 54-0 win.

"I told the defense to get back to basics after last week," said coach Mike Holderman, noting his team's defensive effort at Hanover wasn't its best. "I thought they did a nice job of coming out and playing aggressively."

He noted that the lopsided score gave him and his fellow coaches a good chance to see some of the younger kids in game action.

"That's stuff we need to see," said Holderman. "It was a chance to evaluate these guys."

With Homecoming in the rearview, the Eagles now turn their attention to Monadnock.

As with Hanover the previous week, the Eagles will have to endure a long bus ride before the game and Holderman hopes his team comes out ready to play.

"I don't think we handle bus rides well," the Eagle coach said. "We have to see that we get down there with enough time. It's up to the coaching staff to make sure we get off the bus ready to play.

"And trust me, we will," he added.

He noted that being as the Huskies come a week before a highly-anticipated matchup with Trinity, the Eagle coach sees it as a perfect trap situation.

"We've got to go down there and take care of business," Holderman stated. "For us, that's a prototypical trap game."

The Eagles and Huskies will kick off at 6:30 p.m. in Swanzey on Friday, Oct. 8.

Volleyball

The lone contest not postponed by weather during Homecoming weekend was the Eagle volleyball team's matchup with Oyster River on Friday night, Oct. 1.

The undefeated Bobcats, who knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs last season, came to town and took care of business, knocking off the Eagles by a 3-0 score.

While the Bobcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead, the Eagles fought back, with Paige Mahoney netting an ace and Tasha Jost putting a ball in the perfect spot in the Oyster River court for a 4-2 Kennett lead. A strong play from Casey Blakely at the net made it 5-3, but Oyster River fought back to tied the match at five. Jost made it 6-5 in favor of Kennett, but the Bobcats netted five points in a row to take a 10-6 lead.

The two teams went back and forth from there, but the Bobcats were able to stretch the lead out and pulled ahead 18-9 before Blakely earned a big point for Kennett. Oyster River kept pushing, however and stretched the lead to 24-14 before Charlotte Kennett notched an Eagle point. However, that was as close as it got, as the Bobcats took the 25-15 win.

Game two was a bit closer, as the Eagles leaped out to a 3-0 lead behind good plays from Kaitlin Taylor, Jost and Blakely and an ace from Blakely. Kendall Donaldson contributed strong play from the back row as the Eagles fought to stay ahead. The Bobcats pulled even at three and again at four and five before they began to pull away. Blakely and Jost kept the Eagles in the match with solid points and a combination of Taylor, Jost and Blakely pulled the Eagles even at nine. The Eagles pulled even again at 10, but the Bobcats ran off eight points in a row to pull ahead 18-10. A nice return from Tori Burns and a good play from Taylor helped the Eagles stay within striking distance and Kennett, Jost and Blakely earned points down the stretch, but Oyster River pulled ahead for the 25-17 win.

The Eagles came out strong in the third game, with Taylor and Blakely leading them to a 4-1 lead. Christine Malchiodi chipped in with a strong play and the Eagles remained in front by at least three points, stretching it to five points with a Taylor tip to make it 11-6. Oyster River slowly battled back, but the Eagles held tough and opened up an 18-12 lead, forcing Oyster River to regroup with a timeout.

The Bobcats came out of the timeout and reeled off eight points in a row to take a 20-18 lead and the Eagles never recovered, falling 25-20.

"They have some really good hitters and we didn't have the blocks to match that," coach Jocelyn Judge said.

The Eagle mentor started her seniors, Mahoney, Megan Darrigo and Jackie Kimball, in the first game and she noted she was impressed with their play.

"I thought it would be nice to have seniors introduced for Homecoming," Judge said. "And they stepped up."

That allowed her to change up the lineup a bit, looking for the right spark.

The Eagles traveled to Laconia on Wednesday, Sept. 29, and dropped a 3-0 game to Laconia. The Sachems won 25-16, 25-18 and 25-14. Alyssa Chick led the way for Kennett with 90 percent from the service line, while Blakely had seven kills.

The Eagles bested Souhegan on Monday, Sept. 27, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2.

The Sabers took games one and two by scores of 25-21 and 25-22, but Kennett rallied for wins in games three and four, 25-21 and 25-18, before taking the final game by a 15-11 score.

Taylor, Jost and Burns all had three aces, while Blakely had 13 hits and four kills and Taylor had five blocks.

"I thought we shouldn't have lost those first two games," Judge said. "We kind of held back a little. Our third game is always our best game.

"We have to have that belief that we are a good team," Judge said.

The Eagles will be back in action on Friday, Oct. 8, to host Laconia at 6 p.m. The girls host Gilford at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

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