Warriors have the look of No. 1
Shortly after Friday night's 27-24 victory over Exeter, several Winnacunnet High School players were yelling, "We just beat the No. 1 team in the state." On Monday morning we'll probably be saying "Exeter just lost to the No. 1 team in the state."
There's sure to be some movement at the top of the power polls this week, and it will be no surprise if the victory over Exeter propels Winnacunnet (4-0, 2-0 in Division II) into the top spot.
Winnacunnet showed it has big-play ability Friday night -- running back Ben Franzoso had TD runs of 76 and 77 yards -- but the Warriors also displayed offensive balance.
After throwing an incompletion on the game's first play, Winnacunnet quarterback Ing Hao Veasna connected on his next four attempts and finished the game with 66 yards through the air. His biggest throw may have been a 29-yard completition to junior tight end Collin Witt, which put the ball on the 2-yard line and set up Franzoso's 2-yard TD run late in the first quarter.
Veasna also scored the game's final TD -- a 2-yard run -- on a bootleg with 2:04 left in the third.
"They made critical plays on offense, so give them credit on that," Exeter coach Bill Ball said. "They made some good throws early in the game when they had to. They're a good football team.
"The quarterback has good poise. Franzoso's good, but the other backs, [Seth] Edwards and [Jon] Flagg are good too. [Ben Gareau] is a good receiver. They run enough option and their Power-I gave us problems. We thought we were ready for that, but obviously we weren't."
Winnacunnet defense surrendered 21 points in the first half -- Exeter's fourth possession resulted in a missed field goal -- but tightened up in the final two quarters. The Blue Hawks had 316 yards of offense in the loss, but were held to 83 yards on 22 second-half plays.
"Defensively, in the first half I thought we could have been a little bit better," Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant said. "We did a much better job against the run in the second half. It was more the kids' determination and toughness I think.
"I have a lot of respect for [Exeter]. They're a class program. Now we gotta get ready for league play."
HELMET STICKER: Lots of outstanding individual performances last weekend, but this week's decal goes to Goffstown quarterback Connor Benjamin, who threw four touchdown passes and rushed for two more to help Goffstown High School defeat Pembroke Academy, 43-22, Saturday in Pembroke.
Benjamin gained 228 yards on the ground and passed for 170. He has not been intercepted this season.
"He did his thing," Goffstown coach Justin Hufft said. "I've been real impressed with his decision-making. That's where he's made the biggest improvement."
TEMPTING MENU: The Week 5 schedule includes the following games:
Bedford (3-1, 2-1) at Bishop Guertin (3-1, 3-0): Winner here may be Winnacunnet's top threat.
Goffstown (2-2, 2-0) at Portsmouth (2-1, 1-1): Tussle between two Division III title contenders.
Windham (4-0) at Plymouth (4-0): Winner of this contest will be the clear favorite in Division IV.
FOOTNOTES: BG has allowed seven points in its last three games. ... Memorial's Jared Ombati rushed for 293 yards and five touchdowns in Friday night's 33-25 victory over Londonderry. He accounted for all of Memorial's scoring. ... Newfound running back Tyler Miviki rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-14 triumph over Raymond. ... There hasn't been a punt by either team in Exeter's last two games. ... The Souhegan-Goffstown game on Nov. 3 will be played at St. Anselm College (7 p.m. kickoff). ... Windham's 51-16 victory over St. Thomas on Friday night ended the Saints' 14-game winning streak. It was Eric Cumba's first loss as STA's head coach. ... Monadnock squandered a 14-0 lead in the final two minutes of Saturday night's game against Somersworth, but posted a 21-14 victory in overtime.