HB struggles, falls to Souhegan
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.
Cavaliers hit by injury bug
Injuries decimate teams, even more so when there aren’t that many players on the roster to begin with.
The Cavaliers arrived at Souhegan on Friday with 33 players, and lost one to injury before the game even started. Three others went down during the action, leaving Lones with 29 players, mostly underclassmen.
"When you show up at the field with 33 kids, you can’t lose four," he said. "We started the game with four freshmen (on the field)."
The pregame injury was to senior Peter Bertone, a starting linebacker who also serves as the team’s punter. With Bertone out, the Cavs were scrambling to find someone to punt when they faced fourth down on the opening drive.
Wyatt Farwell dropped back to punt, but instead ran with the ball and picked up a first down.
"It’s hard enough to prepare to have to then prepare 30 seconds before kickoff," Lones said.
"And then punt formation comes up and you think ‘we didn’t think of that.’