NHIAA D-VI Football Championship: Franklin overpowers Mascoma
HANOVER –Though disappointed with the first page of the story, Franklin persevered, kept reading and found a happy ending at the end of the book: a 42-22 victory Division VI football championship victory over top-seeded Mascoma of Canaan, the Granite State's pigskin Cinderella squad.
The second-seeded Golden Tornadoes lost the season opener to Mascoma and trailed early in the early going of Saturday's finale, played at Hanover High School before an overflowing crowd and scores of hand-painted motivational signs.
Franklin (9-2) took charge by tallying four touchdowns in the second half to spoil a special ending to the Royals' (8-3) storybook season and secure the program's fifth football title. Running backs Korey Parent (158 yards rushing) and Kody Benwell (95 yards) sparked the comeback bid, as each scored twice following intermission.
“We had guys coming to practice from our 2008 championship team, telling us winning is all about heart,” said Parent. “That's what we did. We played like family and have come a long way since the first game of the season.”
Way back on Sept. 1, Mascoma opened the season with a convincing win over Franklin. It was Mascoma's first-ever victory over the Golden Tornadoes. They had lost by a combined score of 175-16 the previous three seasons.
In 2012, Mascoma created a winning chapter in its five-season-old football story. The club that finished 2-7 in 2011 and once endured a 23-game losing streak, ripped off six straight wins en route to its first-ever championship game appearance.
Following the September defeat, the Golden Tornadoes made some changes. Strong-armed sophomore passer Bruce Carey assumed the quarterback post. Jake Jameson switched from QB to running back and rushed for 39 yards, caught a TD pass and threw another, connecting with Donald Donker on a 35-yard wingback option play to put his team ahead 2 minutes and 36 seconds before intermission.
“It felt amazing to come up here and bust them,” said Jameson, a senior who also completed a TD pass in the season opener. “We are a second-half team. Once we get going, we're not going to end until the clock stops ticking.”
In the second half, Parent turned on his speed for long gains, while power-runner Benwall gained yardage running between the tackles. Linemen Lucas Gagne, Ian Jipson, Patrick Kaplan, Sam Berry, Noah Nadeau, Kirk Klinger and Isaac Muniz controlled the line of scrimmage.
Employing a powerful double wing running attack, the Royals averaged 34 points an outing, and ran like the win during this season's win streak.
Running a no-huddle offense with senior co-captain Stephen Pierce, in uniform but using crutches, using different colored fly swatters to signal plays, Mascoma scored on its first possession. The Royals drove 53 yards in a 10-play drive that included two key fourth down running plays, Kyle Kosiorek (127 yards, two touchdowns) scored from 19 yards out.
Mike Seiffert contributed 53 yards and scored a Royals' touchdown. Quarterback Zach Warner completed three pass plays that gained at least 20 yards. Steven Griswold rushed for 75 yards, but Mascoma couldn't match Franklin's production.
After trailing 14-8, Franklin tallied five touchdowns, outscoring Mascoma 34-8.
“I'm sad but proud. When I was a freshman I thought the only way I'd ever see a football championship game was to purchase an admission ticket,” said Griswold, a four-year veteran who once endured a 71-point loss to Franklin.
“It sure is great to come this far, but it's also heartbreaking to come this far and not get the job done,” said Mascoma senior Chris Sanborn, also a four-year veteran, who made some key tackles and forced a Franklin turnover. “In past years, we'd get behind and crumble, but not this year.
"We didn't win the championship, but we helped this program come of age.”
- - - - - - - -
Eric Emmerling may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.