ConVal football goes for .500 season

  • The ConVal football team won 47-0 in its homecoming match-up with Merrimack Valley on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal football team won 47-0 in its homecoming match-up with Merrimack Valley on Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.<br/><br/>(Staff Photo by Tim Goodwin)

The last time a ConVal football team won five games, the program was making its second-ever trip to the postseason.

Over the past two years — since that 2009 playoff appearance — the Cougars had back-to-back 1-8 campaigns and were never close to a .500 record after the first three weeks of the season.

And it looked as though it would turn out that way again in 2012.

Following a season-opening win over Division II Merrimack, ConVal lost five straight divisional games that eliminated them from playoff contention. But the Cougars did not give up. There was still a lot of pride involved with this season and it has shown in their recent play.

When ConVal takes the field on Friday night at Pembroke High School, the team will be playing for a 5-5 record. The Cougars are on a three-game winning streak to put them within one game of a .500 season. A remarkable turnaround if I do say so.

Sure, some will say that ConVal got the difficult part of its schedule out of the way and then started beating up on some of the lower end teams. But entering the second half of the season, the Cougars were one of those bottom dwelling teams. So to say they are taking advantage of an easy second half would be a bit off the mark.

It’s nice to see some swagger on the part of the ConVal players. After what they have endured over the last two seasons, they truly deserve it. I was trying to think back to when a ConVal football team has won three straight and I couldn’t off the top of my head. I did some research and determined it has not happened on my watch. And if the team can win Friday, it would mean a fourth consecutive victory and the best possible way to end the first season of coach Ryan McCartney.

Each of the last two ConVal football teams were better than the record indicates. And the same could be said about this year. In losses to Goffstown and Portsmouth, the Cougars had a bad stretch that turned close games into double-digit losses.

After losses to Goffstown, Portsmouth, Milford and Souhegan, ConVal stood at 1-4 entering a crucial contest at Alvirne. Once again mistakes led to a 21-point halftime deficit and an eventual one-possession loss. But halftime of the Alvirne game can be pointed to where things really turned around.

ConVal held the Broncos scoreless to make it a close game and that momentum carried into the following week at Hollis/Brookline. The Cougars controlled all three phases and did not allow the Cavaliers to score until the final minute of the game when the outcome had already been decided.

Over the last two games, the ConVal defense has been dominant in the tune to back-to-back shutouts of Merrimack Valley and Sanborn, a Division V program, where they have outscored those two opponents 64-0.

In the last 14 quarters, the Cougars have allowed just one touchdown and own a 13-2 advantage in turnovers.

And Friday’s match-up could not look any closer on paper. ConVal and Pembroke stand at 2-5 in Division III, having lost to all the same teams. They each have defeated Hollis/Brookline and Merrimack Valley, while both earned an out of conference victory over Merrimack.

There is little question that it will take a complete effort to defeat the Spartans on Friday night. But something tells me it won’t take a lot of motivation to get this team fired up for the season finale because reaching five wins would be a big achievement for a team that early on looked destined to finish much like the last two versions of itself did.

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