Cloutier, Milford run over Manchester West

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MILFORD, NH – Senior running back Cade Cloutier scored three first-half touchdowns to lead Milford High to its first win of the season, 32-0, over Manchester West, Friday night.

The teams entered the game a combined 0-7, each desperately looking for the spark that might turn its season around. It’s been a particularly frustrating season for Milford (1-4), a team with a history of success and that played in the Division II State Final just two years ago.


Friday night’s win brought a collective sigh of relief from the Milford sidelines.

“I don’t think we’ve ever been 0-3, much less 0-4 before, in the years I’ve been here,” said longtime Milford Head Coach Keith Jones. “It was getting a little frustrating. We haven’t been getting some breaks, tonight we got a few breaks. For the first time all season, we really played well.”

Milford’s defense, which came into the game having given up an average of 32.5 points per game, was utterly dominant. Manchester West managed just 26 yards of total offense. Senior running back Hayden Marshall led the Blue Knights with 21 yards on seven carries.

For Manchester West Head Coach Andrew Provencher, the loss was another chapter in what has been a tremendously challenging season. The Blue Knights (0-4) have averaged just 3.5 points per game and Friday night marked the third time they’ve been shut out.

“Milford’s a really good team and I think Coach Jones is one of the best coaches in the state,” said Provencher. “I’m really proud of our guys. We’ve had a really strong effort in some of these games. We’ve got a lot of young guys, guys that are new to football and they’re taking their licks.”

All the game’s scoring came in the first half. Milford broke on top on a 27-yard touchdown run by Cloutier on the Spartans’ opening possession. Later in the quarter, Milford’s defense got into the scoring column, as West’s KeShawn Foster was tackled in his end zone for a safety, giving Milford an 8-0 lead.

After ensuing free kick, Milford marched 49 yards in 15 plays, with Cloutier plowing into the end zone from three yards. He added the 2-point conversion and the Spartans had built a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter. Cloutier would finish with 135 yards on 23 carries.

Things went from bad to worse for West, as a pass from sophomore quarterback Gio Doria slid through the hands Carl Taylor Jr. and into the arms of Milford defensive back Kobe Burnette for the interception.

Jones wasted little time going for the jugular. On first down from the West 24, Milford quarterback Harris Jones looked for split end Colton Tewksbury, who was running a deep post route. Harris aired it out into double coverage but Tewksbury somehow came down with the ball for the touchdown.

Cloutier’s 2-point rush made it 24-0.

“Any time you can turn the tide like that, get the turnover and then take your shot, it’s huge,” said Jones. “It really changes the landscape of the game.”

But Harris and Milford weren’t done. On the Spartans’ next possession, with time winding down in the half, Harris hit Burnette for 31 yards, down to the 5. On the next play, Cloutier ripped through a gaping hole over right tackle for the score. He tacked on the conversion rush to give the Spartans a 32-0 lead at intermission.

If Provencher and his Manchester West staff could take a positive from the game, it was the play of the Blue Knights’ defense, especially in the second half. Led by the relentless play of defensive tackle Damon Butts (12 tackles), West all but shut down Cloutier in the second half. The Blue Knights recovered a fumble and got an end zone interception from Foster, while stopping Milford on fourth down three times.

“I’m proud of our guys for sticking with it,” said Provencher. “We’ve got some pieces that are starting to connect and I’m happy with what we saw, especially in the second half.”

Manchester West will be back in action, looking for its first win, on Friday, Oct. 6, at home against Merrimack Valley (0-4). Milford will look to make it two straight on Friday, Oct. 6, on the road at Hollis-Brookline (0-3).

About this Author

Bill Gilman

Bill Gilman is a veteran journalist with 33 years of experience covering community news and sports in New England. He and his wife have two grown sons and two perfect granddaughters.