Somersworth rolls past Epping-NewmarketBy MICHAEL ABELSON
Special to the Union Leader
September 18. 2017 10:43PM
SOMERSWORTH - Somersworth High School sophomore Christian Abkarian racked up a seemingly endless stat line of touchdowns, big returns and tackles to anchor the Hilltoppers as they surged past Epping-Newmarket, 55-28, in a rare Sunday night contest.
“I was just following the blocks, making cuts and lowering my shoulder,” Abkarian said. “Everyone gave 120 percent the whole time. Never let down.”
Abkarian had 12 rushes for 86 yards and two scores on the ground as well as five tackles on defense. But it was the return game where he stole the show. The sophomore had nearly 200 yards in the return game highlighted by a 70-yard kickoff return and a 62-yard punt return for touchdowns.
“It's kind of rare that you get a kid so physically ready for this at that young an age,” Somersworth coach Dan Hodgson said of Abkarian. “He's only a sophomore, and sometimes he plays like a sophomore and other times it clicks. He's an explosive football player and we're lucky to have him on our team.”
Abkarian anchored a balanced rushing attack for the Hilltoppers (3-0 in Div. III). All of Somersworth's 248 yards came on the ground, led by 119 yards and two touchdowns from burly senior Ray Mills. Anthony McHugh added two touchdowns and 53 yards of his own.
Mills put Somersworth (2-1 in Div. III) ahead early with an 18-yard score. Epping tied things up on its next possession but Somersworth opened the gap up to 21-6 and never gave up the lead. The Blue Devils closed the margin to as little as 21-20 but Abkarian's kickoff return opened up a 29-20 halftime lead that the Hilltoppers would only expand on in the second half.
“I'm happy with the win; I'm not happy with how we got there,” Hodgson said. “We have a lot of work to do if we want to consider ourselves a good football team.”
Hodgson's unhappiness was a result of Somersworth secondary's struggles. Epping quarterback Jake Bisaillion gashed the Hilltoppers for 260 passing yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was fellow senior Noah Armstrong, who had five catches for 146 yards and three scores. Armstrong silenced the home crowd with a 92-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Epping-Newmarket ran 59 plays to just 32 plays by Somersworth.
“We have to get better at the little things,” Hodgson said. “We preach about it constantly. I'm sick of saying it. We're not good enough to make the mistakes we're making and win football games. Our running backs got us out of trouble at times because of their athleticism, but if we keep making those mistakes we're not going to go far.”