Mountaineers take DII title

Monadnock caps off 8-1 season with 45-12 drubbing of Nashua

The Monadnock Mountaineers youth football team dominated its opponents throughout the regular season, earning a spot in the Division II state football championship game on Sunday. The Mountaineers faced off against the Nashua PAL Force, and even though Monadnock thrashed the Force 39-6 in the last game of the regular season, head coach Jon Gullage wasn’t exactly expecting a cakewalk.

“We were confident,” Gullage said, “but not overly confident. When we jumped out to a three-TD lead against them in the last game of the season, we thought they might have put away their bag of tricks.”

Indeed, the Force shelved their running game for the rematch against the ferocious Mountaineer defense, opting to take to the air for the majority of the game. But, no matter how they attacked Monadnock, the defense responded, and the Mountaineers romped to another victory – this time for the state title.

As has been the Mountaineer trademark all year long, there was no one standout star on offense or defense; the team prides itself on getting contributions from everyone on the roster.

“It was an amazing team effort,” Gullage said.

Hunter Gullage, Jake Phillips and Scott Stanley each intercepted Nashua twice; Josh Arruda had six tackles and two sacks and Daniel Curran added a sack as well.

“They say defense wins championships,” Gullage said, “and we were definitely one of those teams.”

As dominant as the Mountaineers were on defense, they were just as deep on offense. Arruda carried the ball seven times for 100 yards and two touchdowns, Tyler Faulkner had four carries for 92 yards, Stanley totalled nine carries for 72 yards and a TD and Carter Jack Cormier had five carries for 50 yards and two touchdowns.

“We had depth,” Gullage said, “and that was the biggest thing on offense. You didn’t notice much of a difference with our second string.”

The Mountaineers had great success running the ball in the title game, as well as the entire season, by playing to their strengths – a powerful offensive line and a no-nonsense approach to the offense.

“We didn’t try to trick you,” Gullage said, “we just tried to ram the ball down your throats and it worked.”

Gullage credited the Mountaineers success this season to the lifelong dedication to football that the program and players have embraced for years. The team is made up of 7th- and 8th-graders, some of whom, Gullage told us, have been playing football for as many as seven years.

“When these kids aren’t playing football, they’re playing football on the Xbox, they’re watching the NFL,” Gullage said. “These kids are dedicated to football.”

This kind of full immersion in the game gives the Mountaineers the versatility and understanding that it takes to win.

“You can get a kid that’s never played a down of offensive tackle in his life,” Gullage said, “and you tell him to go out there and block and he can do it.”

It all came to fruition on Sunday. The Mountaineer players have been working hard to get better at the game they love for years, and winning the state title was the ultimate goal.

“Pretty much every kid peaked simultaneously for the biggest game of their lives,” Gullage said. “Our hard work paid off.”

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