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Exeter routs Bishop Guertin in football opener

Exeter senior Jaedon Cliche fights for yardage as Bishop Guertin's Kyle Baker (84) looks to finish off a tackle Friday night. [Ryan O'Leary/Seacoastonline]

EXETER – Bishop Guertin looked to make an early statement, going for it on fourth-and-1 from its own 32 on the game’s opening drive.

The Blue Hawks would have none of it.

BG quarterback Josh Larson – starting in place of the injured Hayden Moses (knee) – was driven back on a keeper up the middle, and the Exeter High School football team covered the short field in four plays, senior Tommy Lamar powering in from the 6 yard line.

That early exchange set the tone in Exeter’s 29-6 season-opening win over the Cardinals at Eustis Field.

The Cardinals managed just one first down in the first half. On the opening drive, after no gain on third-and-1, coach John Trisciani decided to roll the dice.

“My thought process, and it’s been probably the last two years, is if there’s any doubt let’s just be aggressive,” Trisciani said. “They’re really good and they’re really well coached. You come into Bill Ball Stadium against Exeter, and I didn’t want to sit back. I wanted to be aggressive. Sadly it didn’t pay off.”

A season after it failed failed to finish off drives consistently in a 4-5 finish, Exeter scored on all but one of its drives in the first half, mixing Ryan Grijalva passes with its patented power run plays out of the Wing-T.

Grijalva – looking poised and confident in his second season under center – completed 8 of his 10 passes for 104 yards and two scores. His 14-yard strike to Jaedon Cliche made it 12-0 after the first quarter, and his pretty 8-yard waggle pass to tight end Nathan MacDonald put the game on ice after a 12-play drive to open the third quarter.

“He had poise,” Exeter coach Bill Ball said of his QB. “Very good athlete. He’s got a whole season under his belt. He played nine games last year against some real good teams. I’m really happy with his progress.

Cliche caught three passes for 35 yards and his score. He also had an interception late in the third quarter to stuff one of the Cardinals’ better drives.

The Blue Hawks took a 19-0 lead with 5:09 left in the second quarter when Grijalva gained the edge and scored from the 1 on fourth down.

Bishop Guertin scored its lone six points on a 9-yard pass from Larson to big tight end Kyle Baker midway through the fourth quarter. Exeter had cleared out most of its starters by that point.

Trisciani sees a team in Exeter that could be tough to handle for other teams as well this season.

“It’s football in its purest form,” he said. “It’s blocking, it’s running hard, it’s executing, it’s doing the right things. They’re definitely a well-oiled machine.”