Unbeaten Souhegan rips Hollis Brookline
AMHERST – Mike Lochman has seen enough football to know where Friday’s game could have headed after the first quarter.
The Souhegan High School football coach watched his Sabers stumble their way through a deadlocked opening 12 minutes with Hollis Brookline, thanks to some penalties and overexcitement.
But afterward, when Souhegan had finished off a 50-7 win over the Cavaliers, Lochman told his crew not to dwell on the mistakes, but rather the way they turned things around.
"I told the guys after that we can focus on the negatives in the first quarter," he said. "We were sloppy, we had some penalties, I think we were a little overhyped. Or we could talk about the fact that we did a nice job recovering from those mistakes. Sometimes that happens and it ends up being a spiral. That could have been disastrous."
Jon Nogueira and Cam Kinney led a dominating ground game that accounted for 486 of the Sabers’ 535 yards of offense. Nogueira finished with 145 yards on the ground and four touchdowns while Kinney had 147 yards and two scores.
The Sabers were solid on defense for most of the night as well, holding HB to 101 yards, including just 11 after halftime.
"It speaks to the work those guys did in the offseason," Lochman said. "Nogueira really worked hard to make himself into a player in the offseason the last two years. Any one of those guys you could say that about. We don’t want to be one dimensional and they want to play."
Souhegan (3-0) turned the ball over on its first offensive play, committed infractions at crucial times – including three flags on one play – and watched as HB (1-3) answered the Sabers first touchdown with a scoring drive of its own.
After failing to convert a fourth-and-1 from its own 42-yard line early in the second quarter, Souhegan’s defense was in trouble.
HB moved the ball inside the 30, and on second down, Wyatt Farwell picked up enough yards for a first down in the red zone, but the Cavs senior lost ball at the end of the run. Souhegan recovered at its own 10.
Nine plays later, Nogueira ended the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run that made 14-7 Sabers with 6:54 left in the second. Souhegan also scored on its next three drives to take a 29-7 lead into halftime.
"We knew what we had to stop and we just didn’t do it," HB coach Chris Lones said. "We’ve got young kids playing varsity football. All the reps in the world don’t matter when the lights are bright. All of a sudden, they get out there and want to make a play, and it’s not about making a play, it’s about doing your job."
The Cavs were again hurt by injuries. Already down starting quarterback Joey Delaney, HB lost inside linebacker Peter Bertone to an injury during warmups, and then lost Caleb Lomme and Michael Gillespie to injuries during the game.
"We lost people," Lones said. "That’s been the story of our season. We lost one before we even started. When you show up at the field with 33 kids, you can’t lose four. We started the game with four freshmen (on the field)."
HB got its lone touchdown in the first quarter, when quarterback Tyler Bergerson found Colton Mailloux for a completion to the Souhegan 3-yard line. Mailloux fumbled the ball when he was hit, but Gillespie recovered in the end zone for the touchdown.
The Sabers feel good about where they sit after four weeks of the regular season, but that wasn’t necessarily the case after the first game of the year.
Souhegan scored just 13 points in its season-opening win over Monadnock and spent its bye week wondering if that was the real Sabers’ offense or a mirage.
"We were a little stressed out in Week 1," Souhegan coach Mike Lochman said. "The way we had to win that game was not the way you would have scripted it."
Since then, the Sabers have beaten Milford 41-13, and on Friday, thumped Hollis Brookline 50-7.
The wins have given Souhegan a bit of confidence going into its biggest game to date – Saturday’s 3 p.m. tilt at Windham.
"To play the way we played the last two weeks gives us momentum," Lochman said. "That doesn’t get you anywhere. We’re about to go play the best team in Division II. We can take this as a confidence builder but we can’t take it as anything else but that."
at WINDHAM (4-0)
WHEN: Saturday, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Windham High School.
2014 result: Windham 35, Souhegan 20
LAST WEEK: Souhegan 50, Hollis Brookline 7; Windham 38, Sanborn 21
FYI: The Sabers are having one of their best starts to a season in recent memory, led by the rushing Joe Nogueira and Cam Kinney. But Windham will be a big step up from facing a young, undermanned Hollis Brookline team.
It’s still about a month to go in the regular season, but one might argue the winner here has the inside track on the eventual top spot in the South conference.