By Tris Wykes
LEBANON – Saturday’s second meeting between the Lebanon High and Hanover football teams in eight days produced an almost identical result. The Raiders rolled to a 37-0 victory, this time in an NHIAA preliminary-round playoff game at Henry Emerton Field while improving to 5-0.
Lebanon won the neighboring rivals’ previous meeting, 41-0, and travels to Bow for a Nov. 7 quarterfinal matchup with the Falcons (4-0). Raiders coach Chris Childs said his team hitting the road is the result of a coin flip. His final message to his team after Saturday’s game, however, had nothing to do with football itself.
“I told them to wear their masks, because we’ve got three weeks left in the season and the last thing we want to happen is (Covid-19) case pop up and we have to forfeit the season,” Childs said. “Be smart and make the right decisions on your personal time so we can finish this out.”
Granite State football fans should hope that’s the case, because they deserve a chance to see Lebanon quarterback Jack Stone continue on a postseason stage. The junior’s slender build belies startling strength and his speed, poise and agility make bringing him down a difficult proposition.
Stone ran nine times for 104 yards and two touchdowns against the Marauders, dipping his shoulders to elude some defenders, giving others a classic stiff arm and outrunning the rest.
“The first (touchdown), he broke two or three tackles,” Childs said. “He’s strong and fast and it’s tough for anyone to get hold of him. We don’t need to run him that much, because we have good players around him.
“I’m sure teams will key on him as we go, but it leaves the door open for other kids to have opportunities.”
Lebanon’s Cole Shambo ran 13 times for 77 yards and a touchdown and Nyeoti Punni carried five times for 20 yards and a score. C.J. Childs took five handoffs for 19 yards and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. Stone completed 2 of 5 passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
“We didn’t change a whole lot and we tried to be businesslike in our preparation,” Chris Childs said. “We preached to the players that this was a new game and anything can happen, so stay focused. It’s a great feeling to shut Hanover out twice in back-to-back weeks.”
The visitors surrendered 248 yards, 210 of them on the ground. They gained 102 yards, 69 through the air. Quarterback Colin Pierce completed 3 of 10 passes and had one intercepted by Jake Hibner. Seamus Murphy ran 18 times for 70 yards and Ben Williams carried five times for 3 yards and caught three passes for 69 yards.
“They used some different formations, but I thought they’d throw the ball more,” Chris Childs said. “We get a lot of pressure on them, though, so that makes it tough to stand back there and pass. We fly around to the ball and that makes running against us hard, too.”
Hanover punted on the game’s opening possession and committed an encroachment penalty before Lebanon’s first snap. The Raiders needed four plays to cover 56 yards, scoring on Stone’s 49-yard run. The quarterback threw to Calvin Bates for a 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead during the sixth minute.
The hosts doubled their advantage midway through the second stanza, Stone running for another score. This one was 22 yards and he found Justin DeCarlo for the conversion and a 16-0 lead.
Hanover (4-2) hurt itself when its next possession ended with a snap over punter Josh Bucci’s head. He fell on the ball at his own 5-yard line, setting the Raiders up for Shambo’s 3-yard touchdown run two plays later. Stone found Hibner for the conversion pass and a 24-0 lead 3 minutes and 24 seconds before intermission.
Lebanon received the second-half kickoff and drove 50 yards in nine plays, all on the ground. Punni shot through a gaping hole in the middle of the Marauders’ line for a 15-yard touchdown. Noah Mekus’ extra-point attempt was low and blocked, leaving the score 30-0 midway through the third quarter.
The game’s final points came with 7:35 remaining. Stone threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open C.J. Childs and Mekus added the conversion kick.
Notes: The Lebanon coaching staff gathered after the game to consume venison chili made by assistant Randy Shambo… Posing for a postgame photo were Hanover’s Patrick Elder and Lebanon’s C.J. Childs. The former’s mother is a Lebanon High math teacher and the latter is the son of Chris Childs. The families are full of longtime friends… The Raiders twice suffered from jersey problems. Stone’s tore badly in the back and had to be taped together and Connor Brown switched from his usual No. 69 to No. 85 after the first garment absorbed a blood stain… Lebanon committed seven penalties for 80 yards Saturday, giving it a combined 13 for 160 yards the past two weeks… The Raiders have shut out their last three foes and haven’t surrendered an offensive touchdown since their opener against Stevens. Lebanon, which reached the Division III title game last fall, has outscored this season’s opponents, 184-20.
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