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Roger Brown's H.S. Football: Campbell will (single) wing it in showdown

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 12. 2017 11:14PM
Campbell's offense coordinator Mark Cohen shows a play during practice at Campbell High School in Litchfield on Thursday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

At a time when so many high school football teams are running the spread offense, Greg Gush and his staff went in the opposite direction. Gush installed the single wing at Campbell of Litchfield in July.

“Our offensive coordinator (Mark Cohen) — I think he does it right,” Gush explained. “He’ll take a look and say, ‘OK, what do we have this year? What are our strengths and weaknesses and what can we do to play to our strength?’”

You can’t argue with the results. Entering tonight’s game at Somersworth, Campbell is unbeaten and has scored at least 41 points in each of its five games. The Cougars are averaging 57.8 points per game.

Ryan Yanuszweski and Keegan Mills are Campbell’s leading rushers. Yanuszweski has run for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns on 60 carries (13.2 per attempt), and Mills has carried the ball 56 times for 634 yards and eight TDs (11.3 per attempt).

“It’s worked well for us,” Gush said. “You eliminate the handoff and then you have 10 guys blocking. Our offensive line has been playing its tail off.”

Somersworth (5-0) knows a thing or two about moving the football as well. The Toppers, the only other unbeaten team in Division III South, have scored 225 points in their five games, an average of 45 points per contest.

Somersworth has a pair of dangerous running back in senior Ray Mills and Christian Abkarian, a sophomore. Abkarian leads the team in rushing (707 yards) and touchdowns (15). Somersworth coach Dan Hodsdon said Mills is expected to play tonight after missing time with a hamstring injury.

“We’ll be facing a different animal this week and I think they feel the same way,” Hodsdon said. “Their offense is quite a deviation from what they had been doing, which was a lot of spread. It’s designed to be quick-hitting because you don’t have the handoff. That’ll be a challenge.

“They go for two (following touchdowns) a lot, and they like to get the ball back (with onside kicks) right after they score. I don’t think it’ll be a high-scoring game, but who knows? I think it’ll come down to who tackles the best.”

The Somersworth/Campbell winner will likely wind up as the Division III South champion, which means at least one home game in the playoffs.

While Campbell’s offense has grabbed the spotlight, the Cougars have been playing some stingy defense as well. Campbell has shut out three of its five opponents and has allowed a total of 18 points.

Mills, a linebacker, is the team’s leading tackler with 25 stops. Defensive lineman Garrett Walker is next with 22 tackles.

“Have to give a lot of credit to our defensive coordinator, Glen Costello,” Gush said. “Our defense plays very fast because they’re comfortable with what they’re supposed to do.

“Somersworth is a solid team. This will be a good challenge for us.”

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WHAT do we make of Manchester Central?

The Little Green will carry a 5-1 record — and a five-game winning streak — into tonight’s contest against Goffstown (5-1), but have yet to play the toughest part of their schedule. Central has yet to beat a team that’s currently over the .500 mark, and after tonight will complete its regular-season schedule with games against Winnacunnet (6-0) and Bedford (3-3).

“We have a bunch of great kids and they work really, really hard, so it’s been good to see them gets some wins week after week,” Central coach Ryan Ray said. “The team is improving every week and we’re improving everywhere. To be 5-1 at this point in any division is awesome, but we have three of the top five, six, seven programs in the state ahead of us.”

Goffstown enters tonight’s matchup ranked fourth in the Union Leader Power Poll. Central is No. 9.

Goffstown’s only loss came against Winnacunnet, which is tied with Salem at No. 1. The Grizzlies have held four of their six opponents to nine points or fewer.

Central quarterback Alex Hawkom has thrown 20 touchdown passes this season. He operates behind an offensive line led by tackles Mike Tessier and Camren Varney.

“I think we’re going to have our hands full for every minute, every play of that game — offense, defense, special teams,” Ray said.

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SPAULDING (0-6) and Manchester Memorial (0-6) will each be looking to end lengthy losing streaks when they meet tonight in Rochester.

Spaulding has lost its last 28 games, and Memorial has dropped 24 in a row. Spaulding’s last win came against Dover in 2014 (45-6) and Memorial hasn’t tasted victory since it beat Manchester Central (41-14) in the 2014 Manchester Turkey Bowl.

A victory tonight might earn Memorial a spot opposite Central in this year’s Thanksgiving Day game as well. If Memorial and West each finish the regular season with one victory — West is currently 1-5 in Division II — Memorial would get the nod because when it comes to determining who plays in Manchester’s Thanksgiving Day game, more points are awarded for Division I victories than victories over Division II opponents.

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There are currently eight Division II teams with a 4-1 record or better, four in each of the two conferences. The team not in that group with the best chance to be one of the eight teams invited to the playoffs? Souhegan.

The Sabers are 3-2 in Division II South and can secure a postseason berth by winning their three remaining regular-season games: Sanborn (2-3), Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton (1-4) and at Hollis/Brookline (4-1).

The Souhegan-Hollis/Brookline matchup on Oct. 28 looks like a win-and-get-in game.