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Local teams take to gridiron in final preseason tune up

Inter-Lakes/Moultonboro, Gilford and Winnisquam football all participant in I-L jamboree

Hayden Jurius chases down a Kingswood running back during the jamboree held at Inter-Lakes Saturday. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
August 29, 2011
MEREDITH It may not have marked the official start of the regular season, but the local high school football teams got their first action against real competition on Saturday, as Inter-Lakes/Moultonboro Academy, Gilford High School, Winnisquam Regional High School and Kingswood Regional High School took part in the Inter-Lakes High School Jamboree under hot and humid skies in Meredith.

The format for the jamboree saw each team play what amounted to a full game of football, though separated into single halves against opposing squads. For example, Inter-Lakes/Moultonboro played Gilford for a half of football in the first game of the day and later tangled with Kingswood for another half.

The afternoon marked the final tuneup for the local sides, as the regular season kicks off this Saturday.

"It was good to see how we react in game situations," said I-L/MA senior linebacker Conor Donovan of his team's appearance in the jamboree. "We made a bunch of mistakes today that we're going to have to fix. We had multiple chances to score on offense too so hopefully we'll get that figured out in time for the first game."

The Lakers, who will see Moultonboro Academy players join the varsity for the first time this season, are looking to shore up their play in the trenches as the 2009 state champs hope to make a run back to the title game.

"We've got a long way to go with some things but that's why they call it a scrimmage," explained Lakers coach Paul Lavigne. "We had a couple good drives in that second period of the second game but there were a lot of things I didn't like about the way we played. Physically it's there but we've just got to get better."

The Lakers played their two games back-to-back to start the day, allowing them to stay on the field while Gilford came off and Kingswood came on.

"We got to play two halves in a row which is good for conditioning purposes," Lavigne said. "I think we gave up a kick return to start the game and then an interception return for a touchdown so it was definitely a reality check for the guys. They bounced back which was nice to see but giving up points like that isn't going to fly in a real game."

Last year's Division VI runner-up sat out a game after the morning tussle with I-L/MA before coming back on to the field and matching up against Winnisquam. Senior running back Brendon Murphy had himself a nice afternoon, as he managed several big gains against the Bears including a long touchdown run.

"It's great playing in something like this," Murphy explained. "To actually play teams that we're going to see in the regular season is helpful and we get to kind of see how we stack up so far."

Teams won't have any problems recognizing Murphy after the tailback rushed for nearly 2,000 yards as a junior last season.

"They all know about Brendon at this point, he's not going to surprise anybody this year," said Gilford coach Mark Brewer. "So we've got to get other people involved offensively."

After putting in a solid defensive effort against I-L/MA in the morning contest, the Golden Eagles offense was solid against Winnisquam but the defense struggled against the Bears' double wing offense.

"You learn what you don't do well in a situation like this," said Brewer, who has 29 kids on his current roster. "We didn't tackle well in that second game so we'll look it over and break it down before the first game. We don't have the speed of the game right now and when you have 29 kids, you just get tired quickly."

While the Eagles are fresh off a successful season, Murphy & Co. know every game is going to be a battle in Division VI this fall.

"I know there's a lot of talent in this league," Murphy said. "We're going to have to play a full game, every game. There aren't any teams that you can just show up and walk over."

Gilford opens with a home game against Newfound on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. while I-L/MA hosts Farmington at noon. Winnisquam will welcome defending champion Newport to Tilton at 1:30 p.m.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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