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Marc Thaler's First and 10: Spartans win big, but not without key losses

October 06. 2012 7:59PM

Milford High scored serious points - beyond the 24 hung on Nashua North in high school football's sixth week.

Defeating a Division I opponent, however, came at a price.

'We won the game,' said head coach Keith Jones, whose Division III Spartans twice erased a two-touchdown deficit Friday night in a 24-21 slugfest at Nashua's Stellos Stadium. 'But we lost some key kids to some injuries.'

Joe Albina, a senior halfback/linebacker, suffered an ankle sprain early in the first quarter. Tyler Cooney, who is Albina's back-up at inside backer, hurt his lower leg later in the non-league clash.

Milford (5-1 overall, 4-0 Div. III) was playing mix-and-match for most of the contest. Ian Michaud is one such example. He slid from safety to linebacker midway through the fourth quarter.

Adding to the impressive, if not costly, victory was Milford's ability to force five second-half turnovers.

Connor Borne landed a comeback-sparking hit with an off-the-edge strip sack. The ball landed in the hands of Brett Stagnone, who rumbled deep into North's red zone.

Borne's subsequent short-yardage carry on offense resulted in a fumble. But Mitchell Banuskevich made the recovery in the end zone.

'They're a very unselfish group. They play for each other,' said Jones, whose team later relied on girls' soccer standout Morgan Andrews to drill a 33-yard fourth-quarter field goal that snapped a 21-21 tie. 'Nobody cares about who gets the yards or touchdowns. They leave it on the field.'

Milford last year outlasted Division I Londonderry, 13-6, in the season-opener.

Jones holds true to his belief that lower-division teams can play giant-killer on occasion.

Carrying 'a big stick' for a full season, though, isn't realistic, he said. Milford's student enrollment for the current classification cycle is 936, compared to North's 1,928.

'We wouldn't have the numbers or (roster) depth to compete with that schedule week in and week out,' he said.

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JUNIOR QUARTERBACK Trevor Knight earned top-player honors for his last-second 71-yard TD run. It earned No. 8 Nashua South a 35-28 win Friday at Gill Stadium against No. 5 Manchester Central.

But two other Purple Panthers were crucial in the outcome that lifted South to 4-2 (3-1 Div. I) and dropped Central to 4-2 (3-2 Div. II).

Receiver Robbie Smyth made the key block that sprung Knight for the winning run.

Just prior to the TD, linebacker Matt Deitrick sacked Central's Riley Cote for a 10-yard loss on third-and-10. Deitrick's great blindside pursuit forced a Central punt near midfield.

'This (win) tells us we are good,' Knight said. 'We can hang with people. We can beat good teams.'

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SINCE LOSING in overtime two weeks ago, Division V Somersworth (5-1) has not allowed a point. The Hilltoppers stifled Stevens of Claremont on Friday, 27-0, after silencing Sanborn of Kingston, 37-0, in Week 5.

'That loss absolutely fueled everybody, from the coaches on down,' Somersworth head coach Dan Hodsdon said of the 21-14 Week 4 loss at contender Monadnock of Swanzey.

Somersworth is playing consistent defense at all three levels. Names to note include linemen Darren Glore, Tyler Kretschmar and Dre Parker, linebackers Kevin Clougherty, Kurtis Michaud and Josh Ream, and safety Drew Francouer.

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DIVISION IV champion Trinity of Manchester (5-1) hasn't scored fewer than 46 points - or allowed more than seven - in its last three games.

'Our kids feel they're a better team than they're getting credit for,' said Trinity head coach Steve Burns, whose team KO'd Kennett of Conway, 46-7, on Friday. 'Everybody's talking about Plymouth and Windham. They want to be in that conversation.'

Burns named four Pioneers who are quietly making key contributions, particularly on defense. The quartet includes linemen John Graveline and Pat Taillon, linebacker Tristan Theroux and cornerback Brad Rhoades.

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Marc Thaler covers high school football for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the 'N.H. Sports Show' Saturday morning on WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7. Send e-mails to and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.


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