5-star review! Trinity’s Service is excellent in semifinal win over I-L/M

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MANCHESTER, NH  – Senior quarterback Jack Service threw three touchdown passes, including two in the final three minutes of the first half, to lead Trinity High to a 28-6 win over Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough in the State Division III semifinals, Saturday afternoon at Derryfield Park.

Service finished 8-for-14 for 135 yards, with two of his scoring strikes hauled in by senior wideout Devohn Ellis. Senior Paul Thibault played a tremendous game on both sides of the ball for the Pioneers. Thibault rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries and recorded nine tackles (three for loss) to anchor a defense that allowed I-L/M just 34 yards on the ground and just 67 yards of total offense until the Lakers’ final drive of the game.

The win propels No. 2 seed Trinity (9-1) into its third straight D-III State Championship game and sets up a title rematch with unbeaten and top-seeded Campbell (10-0). The Cougars rolled over No. 4 Monadnock, 49-14, in the other semifinal. The title game will be played at Souhegan High in Amherst on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 1 p.m.

Campbell took home the 2022 championship with a 16-14 win over the Pioneers. The teams met earlier in the season in Litchfield, with the Cougars, once again, getting the better of the Pioneers, 7-0. Trinity Head Coach Rob Cathcart said his team will need to match Campbell’s physicality, play a disciplined game a minimize their mistakes.

“That was the big difference when we played them earlier this year. We made more mistakes than they did,” said Cathcart, adding that in a low-scoring game, turnovers and penalties have a bigger impact.

Service is well aware of Trinity’s offensive struggles in its last two games with Campbell. Still, he’s confident the Pioneers will be able to elevate their game and bring home their first state championship since 2019.

“Grab your popcorn, this is gonna be a good one,” said Service, whose offense has averaged 41.3 points a game. “I think we just need to have a good week of practice, work hard, do the things we’re supposed to do and play our best game.”

After three straight wins by margins of at least 36 points, Trinity had all it could handle against No. 3 seed Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (7-3). The Lakers played an aggressive, bruising style of defense that frustrated Trinity for most of the first half. The Pioneers led just 7-0 with three minutes to play in the second quarter, the lone score coming on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Service to Ellis (3 rec., 66 yards) on their opening drive.

The game turned in the final minutes of the half, with special teams playing a pivotal role.

Trinity caught a huge break when I-L/M’s Addison Kernan shanked a 16-yard punt, giving the Pioneers the ball at the Lakers’ 31-yard line. Five plays later, Service connected with a wide-open Anthony DiGiantommaso on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 with 2:50 left in the second quarter.

The Trinity defense then stepped up, stuffing I-L/M’s Garrett Hayward (17 carries, 27 yards) on three straight plays to force the Lakers’ fourth punt of the half, with 42 seconds on the clock. DiGiantommaso fielded Kernan’s punt at the Trinity 38, broke a tackle at the 42, cut all the way across the field and returned it all the way to the Lakers 4-yard line.

The 17 seconds remaining in the half proved to be about 13 seconds more than Service needed to hit Ellis on a quick slant in the end zone, giving the Pioneers a 21-0 halftime lead.

DiGiantommaso continued his outstanding all-around game in the fourth quarter, with a sack on defense and a highlight reel 20-yard touchdown run that pushed the Trinity lead to 28-0.

I-L/M spoiled Trinity’s bid for its fourth shutout of the season with a 77-yard scoring drive in the game’s final minutes. Lakers’ quarterback Alec Aderno capped the drive with a 26-yard scoring strike to junior Wes Bailey with 1:03 remaining.

Bailey’s touchdown is noteworthy because it is just the fifth allowed by Trinity all season. The Pioneers have allowed just 34 points all season (4.3 ppg in eight contested games).

Cathcart said facing a tough semifinal test and being forced to grind out a win over I-L/M should prove beneficial as the team prepares for the state final.

“(It was) very important because that’s what it’s going to take to beat Campbell,” he said. “Campbell is a tough team, Campbell is gonna be grinding it and playing hard, so we have to be ready for that.”

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About this Author

Bill Gilman

Bill Gilman is a veteran journalist with 35 years of experience covering community news and sports in New England. He and his wife have two grown sons and two perfect granddaughters.

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