Alvirne poised to challenge Plymouth for Division II football crown
HUDSON – Alvirne High coach Tarek Rothe set the tone for the week early.
“We didn’t get there, just to get there,” Rothe told his team before it opened practice Monday in preparation for Saturday’s (2:30 p.m.) Division II state title game at UNH.
The Broncos, 9-2 and the No. 3 seed, will tangle with 11-0 Plymouth, the two-time defending champ and preeminent power in sub-Division I football in the Granite State.
It is old hat for the Bobcats and brand new territory for the Broncos. That hasn’t seemed to matter as Alvirne feverishly has worked on the turf at Presentation of Mary Academy to be ready for the challenge.
“Things have been great,” said quarterback Kyle Gora. “Guys are excited to be here at practice, and our attitude is great.”
To prove it belongs with the most elite, Alvirne has to play defense and find a way to slow a Plymouth attack that is scoring 35.6 points a game on the season.
“We have to be strong and work to slow them down,” said cornerback Morgan Williams. “We have all come together and are working hard.”
Plymouth flaunted a tremendous running attack in its 45-28 semifinals win over No. 5 Souhegan. Patrick Malm (253 yards) and Owen Brickley (238) powered an awesome show of force on the ground.
Alvirne is no stranger to getting tough and physical defensively. While playing exceptional pass defense when it mattered against St. Thomas a week ago, the Broncos more than showed up against a physical running game from Milford in the postseason opener.
Grit guys like Alex Giuffrida, Thomas Keegan and Gregg Ellis up front will need to be at the top of their games, as they were in holding down the Spartans.
On the offensive side of things, there is both good and bad news.
First the bad.
Plymouth has allowed barely over a touchdown a game, at only 8.9 points per night with four shutouts in the last six games.
And the good.
Souhegan put up the 28 a week ago, scoring four TDs and moving the football on its own terms.
“We think our offense can be pretty good,” said receiver Jamie Bertrand. “Different guys have stepped up and made plays at different times for us. We’re going to need that again on Saturday.”
On the ground, it’s been Giuffrida (131 carries, 602 yards, 10 TDs) and Gora (115-516-14) carrying the load.
Key a close watch on Bertrand, too, using his quickness to get to the edge on speed sweeps.
In the passing game, Gora has clicked with four different receivers — Bertrand, Regan, Kyle Boucher and semifinals hero Morgan Williams.
Ball control could be huge as Alvirne does its best to keep the Bobcats’ offense off the field.