D-V Football Championship: Monadnock good on 'D'
If the Monadnock Regional of Swanzey football team wins this year's Division V championship, it will likely do it with defense.
The third-seeded Huskies will enter Saturday's championship game against top-seeded Somersworth with a 7-2 record, and have allowed no more than seven points in six of those seven victories.
Monadnock nearly posted a shutout in last weekend's 14-6 semifinal victory over second-seeded Kearsarge, but the Cougars scored on a 64-yard pass play with 1.4 seconds remaining. Monadnock held Kearsarge to 160 yards of offense in that contest.
"It's the strength of the team," Monadnock coach Linwood Patnode said. "We're pretty physical up front, and we can play pretty good pass defense as well. I thought we would be pretty formidable on that side of the ball."
One of Monadnock's best defensive performances came during its 21-14 regular-season victory over Somersworth (8-1). The Hilltoppers were held to minus-10 yards of offense in the first half of that contest, and didn't pick up a first down until the fourth quarter. Somersworth running back Josh Ream was held to zero yards rushing on nine carries.
Somersworth trailed 14-0 with 2:30 to play, but scored two late touchdowns to force overtime. Monadnock took the lead for good when quarterback Will Kitterman hooked up with tight end D.J. Lotito for a 10-yard TD pass on the first play overtime.
"We bottled them up pretty well for 45-and-a-half minutes," Patnode said. "I think we put more pressure on their quarterback (Drew Francoeur) than anyone else."
Monadnock's base defense is a 4-4, but the Huskies also played a 3-5 and a 4-3 in the earlier contest against Somersworth. The team features an experienced linebacking corps that includes Lotito, Jake Poulin, Nick Patterson and Zach Jarvis.
Patnode said he expects Somersworth to use a much different offensive game plan Saturday than it did when the teams met during the regular season.
"They'll probably show us some of their power running game, but I think we're going to see a lot more spread from them." Patnode said. "A scrambling quarterback is the worst thing a defensive coordinator has to worry about, and they have one. You think you have (Francoeur) and then he shows you another gear. A low-scoring game is the only way we can be effective."
Monadnock, which dropped from Division IV to Division V following the 2011 season, will be seeking the program's first state championship Saturday.
"I don't think it will be a runaway either way," Patnode said. "I think it's going to be like two rams banging heads on a mountain. Eventually somebody's going to make a mistake."