Cougars host scrappy Stevens in state semifinals today

LITCHFIELD – The best football team Campbell High School has seen this year comes to town Saturday in the NHIAA Division III state semifinals.

In last week’s quarterfinals, Stevens High of Claremont did exactly what Campbell did three weeks ago. The No. 6 Cardinals stormed into third-seeded Somersworth and stomped the Toppers, 33-6.

Somersworth was supposed to have provided Campbell its first real test. The Cougars passed that one with flying colors, but it’s clear this semifinal matchup is a whole different ball game.

The two meet here in Cougar Country Saturday at 1 p.m. for the right to play in the title game next week at UNH in Durham

“Stevens is a very well-coached team, a very talented team,” said Campbell’s Ryan Yanuszewski. “We’ve really prepared hard for them this week.”

Campbell got a bit of a wakeup call in the opening round playoff win over Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough.

The 9-0 Cougars trailed 6-0 through one quarter and were two minutes away from heading to halftime in a one score game.

“That didn’t really happen to us in the regular season,” said Yanuszeski. “We kept our composure and put up 37.”

Being ready to go from the opening snap is a message that was driven home early and often this week at Campbell.

“We used it as ammo,” said Yanuszewski.

Being two wins away from the perfect season, Campbell is beginning to hear the whispers about it. Yanuszewski says that his team has a lot more to deal with than the opportunity to be perfect.

“I don’t feel any pressure. I don’t think any of us do,” he said. “If we go out there and do what we’re coached to do, we will be fine.”

Judging by the way Stevens pounced on Somersworth, Campbell had better come out swinging.

“I think it was good to have that happen to us,” said Yanuszewski. “To the new guys, who’ve only started for us one year. It was a bit of a wakeup call. We’ve had a good week of practice. I know we will be ready.”