YOU CAN STOP Milford High School quarterback Gavin Urda, but first you have to catch him — and that’s not easy.
Urda is the decision maker in Milford’s triple-option offense, and the most dangerous option in that offense as well. He may have turned in the best offensive performance of his high school career in a 63-42 Division II triumph over St. Thomas on Saturday night when he ran for 247 yards on 18 carries and scored six touchdowns (five rushing and one on a 74-yard punt return).
“He’s elusive,” Milford coach Keith Jones said. “He makes you miss and then he accelerates so fast. You think you have the angle on him, but you don’t.
“He’s pretty good at throwing the football too. We just don’t do it.”
Yes, Urda is a major problem for opposing Division II defenses. He’ll be Souhegan’s problem tonight, when the Sabers (3-1) and Spartans (4-0) meet in Milford.
Milford is the No. 6 team in this week’s Union Leader Power Poll, which makes the Spartans the highest-ranked non-Division I team.
“We felt like we let one slip away against Alvirne (a 23-22 loss),” Souhegan coach Robin Bowkett said. “Overall we’ve been playing pretty good football in all three phases. We know they can score points, so it’s a matter of playing assignment football.
“I think with Gavin he has breakaway speed, and it’s stop and go. He can go from zero to 100 pretty quickly. Something that gets overlooked is his overall toughness mentally and physically. He just took over that (St. Thomas) game.”
Urda, who also plays safety, has run for 649 yards on 55 carries this season. He’s scored 12 touchdowns. He’s pretty good on the other side of the ball as well.
“As a free safety he’s good enough to play man coverage on your best guy,” Bowkett said. “Speed kills and he has that more than anyone.”
Touchdowns could be plentiful tonight since the Sabers have scored at least 34 points in each of their three victories.
“We haven’t proven we can stop the pass very well, and they can throw it,” Jones said. “I think they want to run it, but they’ll throw it if they have to. I think it’s going to be another shootout.”
The Division III spotlight will be pointed at Hopkinton on Saturday, when Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton (4-0) will face Lebanon (4-0). Campbell (4-0) is the only other unbeaten team in the division. Lebanon will play Campbell during the regular season. H-D/H will not.
H-D/H coach Jay Wood said Saturday’s game means more to his program than last year’s playoff victory over Lebanon did.
“It’s a game between two 4-0 teams,” Wood said. “The playoff win was nice, but this is the biggest opportunity this program has ever earned in its six years of existence.”
Lebanon, which has scored at least 47 points in three of its four victories, has been getting strong offensive efforts from quarterback Jon Willeman and running back Wade Rainey.
“Lebanon’s a pretty darn good team,” Wood said. “Their line is good, but more so their skill players. Their quarterback is more of a running threat this year, from what I’ve seen.”
No one has been more productive this season than H-D/H senior running back Colby Quiet, who has 19 touchdowns in his team’s first four games. Quiet is a mix of speed and power.
“Until this year he’s never been healthy — never,” Wood said. “He took a little time off from lacrosse this summer and that paid dividends. He’s a good receiver and he’s fast. Not many people are going to catch him.”
Nashua North earned an impressive win when it beat Exeter 31-28 last Friday night, but it appears to have been a costly victory.
North running back Xavier Provost sustained a knee injury early in the second half that will keep him out of tonight’s game against Nashua South, and likely much longer. North coach Dante Laurendi said Provost had his knee examined by medical personnel earlier this week.
“It doesn’t look good,” Laurendi said. “He’s a pretty dynamic player for us. A very good defensive back and a good running back.”
North improved its record to 4-0 by beating Exeter (3-1). The Titans are the only unbeaten team remaining on the East/West half of the Division I bracket.
Provost, a junior, ran for 68 yards on six carries against the Blue Hawks before he was injured. He scored on a 33-yard run that helped North tie the game, 14-14. He missed most of his sophomore season with a broken collarbone.
North will face a South team that had its own injury problems early in the season, but is healthier now and has scored 100 points in its last two games. The Purple Panthers (3-1) scored 10 points in their first two contests.
This weekend’s marquee game in Division IV is the Bishop Brady/Fall Mountain matchup that will be played tonight in Langdon. Bishop Brady is off to a 3-1 start, and, since the Green Giants are one of only three Division IV teams with fewer than two losses, a victory over Fall Mountain would go a long way toward securing a playoff berth. Division IV teams play a seven-game regular-season schedule.
The game is even more meaningful for Fall Mountain (2-2), which appears to have righted the ship since opening the season with losses against Raymond (3-1) and Winnisquam (4-0). The Wildcats didn’t allow a point in their last two games, victories over Franklin and Farmington-Nute.
Following tonight’s game, Fall Mountain has Mascoma (2-2) and Newfound (1-3) left on its schedule. The Wildcats are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 1994.
Epping/Newmarket, Newfound, Pembroke and Winnacunnet each collected their first victory last weekend, leaving nine teams still seeking their first win: Concord, Timberlane, Keene, Hanover, Sanborn, Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough, Kearsarge/Mount Royal, Somersworth and Farmington/Nute. …
Londonderry, the No. 1 team in the Power Poll, has scored the most points of any team in the state (188). Bow (13), Campbell (14) and Kennett (21) have allowed the fewest. Salem has three shutouts, but allowed 42 points in its loss to Londonderry. …
The week’s only matchup between teams in the Power Poll is No. 8 Pinkerton at No. 4 Salem on Saturday in Haverhill, Mass. … Division IV teams all have a bye next weekend.