action:article | category:SPORTS21 | adString:SPORTS21 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » High School Sports

November 13. 2012 8:32PM

NHIAA Div. I Football Championship Preview: Exeter looks familiar


Exeter at a glance

Record: 9-0 in Division I, 10-1 overall

Win streak: 7 games

History: Team state titles won: 13

Coach: Bill Ball (20th year), 162-54 career record

Captains: Tyler Grant, HB/DB; Jamie Vogt HB/LB.

Other key players: Galen Antolino DB/RB; Jacob Boria DE/TE; Zach Bosen DL/TE; Ross Dannar DL/OL; Brian Henry DB/RB; Ethan Joyce QB/DB; Sam Klemarczyk DE/OL; Logan Laurent, K; Colby Swane DB/RB; Jameson Whiteley DE/TE

EXETER - Exeter coach Bill Ball flips a switch and Saturday's game against Manchester Central pops up on the screen.

The Exeter team on video looks a lot like the Exeter team Ball coached last year, and the one he coached the year before that. In fact, this year's Exeter team resembles just about every team Ball has molded in his 20 seasons as the program's head coach.

The Blue Hawks advanced to this year's Division I championship game by following a familiar blueprint: solid defense, punishing running game and excellent special teams.

"The names change, but what we try to do stays the same," said longtime Exeter assistant coach Skip Swiezynski. "It's been that way since I've been here."

Exeter (10-1) will meet Pinkerton Academy (10-1) on Saturday in a game between the top two teams in the Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll. Top-ranked Exeter beat Central, 42-21, in the semifinals. No. 2 Pinkerton moved on by knocking off Nashua South, 42-3, in the other semifinal.

The same programs met in last year's Division I championship game. Exeter won that contest, 23-13.

The Blue Hawks will enter Saturday's game having scored at least 35 points in each of their last six games.

"I think offensively we're a little more balanced than we were a year ago," Ball said. "When you run the wing-T or the straight-T you want to have a four-back offense.

"We've shown flashes of being really good defensively. In my mind we need to be better Saturday. We clearly have to play better than we did last week against Central. I think we have it in us - I really do. It always starts with defense. If you can't play defense you can't be successful in the postseason."

Exeter usually has a strong kicking game, and this year is no different. Punter/place-kicker Logan Laurent, who has been offered a scholarship by the University of New Hampshire, has a habit of putting kickoffs in the end zone. Laurent hasn't missed a PAT attempt this season, and said he's comfortable attempting field goals from 50 yards and closer, but has made longer kicks in practice.

"An extra point to a 65-yard field goal is supposed to be the exactly the same on how you attack it, and how you approach it," Laurent said. "I don't worry about it. I just run out on the field, find out what yard line we're on and strike through it like it's an extra point."

Tyler Grant is probably the name being mentioned most at Pinkerton's practices this week, however. Grant, a senior halfback/defensive back, has run for 1,138 yards and 19 touchdowns on 151 carries this season. He rushed for 1,216 yards last year.

Grant has also caught 11 passes for 214 yards and three TDs.

"He seems to be a guy who plays really well in November," Ball said. "I think we gave it to him 30-35 times a game in the playoffs last year. He seems to thrive in the postseason."

Exeter quarterback Ethan Joyce isn't asked to throw often, but seven of his 29 completions have been TD passes. He's thrown for 519 yards.

Ball's formula has produced excellent results. He's guided the Blue Hawks to the playoffs in 16 of the last 18 years. Saturday will be Exeter's 13th appearance in a championship game since he took over in 1993. Exeter has won six state championships (five in Division II, one in Division I) during that span.

"I really believe our best football is in front of us," Ball said. "We'll need it."

- - - - - - - -


Roger Brown may be reached at rbrown@unionleader.com.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Keene State mum on suspension of veteran track coach

Morgan Andrews speaks: Notre Dame star undeterred by U.S. U-20 World Cup snub

Mo'ne Davis, and why no one should laugh at the idea of a woman in Major League Baseball

Curt Schilling says smokeless tobacco caused oral cancer

Bill Belichick: Eagles joint practices as productive as any

Big Knockout Boxing has grown from NH debut to Las Vegas attraction

Toronto Blue Jays Minor League System: Philosophy change?

Spring trial likely for former UNH women's hockey coach

Special golf cart helping Vietnam veteran play game he loves article

And so it begins: Equipment distribution starts a new era in Plymouth football

Tailgating changes for UNH football games

Report: Pirates' pitcher Jeff Locke cleared in gambling probe involving childhood friend from Conway

Tim OSullivan: Even with NFL success, NHs Kelly remembers his roots

Chip Kelly: 'Put some Galoshes on and go play'

Survey says Duke the most hated college hoops team in NH

Cheyenne Woods, Tiger's niece, trying to make big time article

Gorham papermill owner Lynn Tilton is getting Yale tennis award

Ex-bank president co-authors racing book

New England Patriots are the most hated NFL team in the world

Travis Hughes: It's time to drastically overhaul minor league hockey in North America

Portsmouth native, 47, conquers 21-mile swim of the English Channel

Bennett to take control of the flags for Granite State Pro Stock Series

Air Force captain serving in NH honored before Red Sox-Yankees crowd at Fenway

Newmarket woman second to run solo across the U.S.

VIDEO: A car's-eye view of the demolition derby at Cheshire County Fair

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!