Revenge is sweet! Trinity dismantles Campbell, 42-12, to claim Division III State Title

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AMHERST, NH — For obvious reasons, the number “3” holds special significance for Trinity High School. On Saturday, that number was a recurring theme, as the Pioneers steamrolled Campbell, 42-12, to claim the Division III State Championship, at Souhegan High School.

Senior Paul Thibault and sophomore Anthony DiGiantommaso scored three touchdowns each and senior quarterback Jack Service tossed three touchdown passes to lead No. 2 Trinity (10-1), which was playing in its third straight state title game.

The win gave Trinity its fifth football state championship in school history and second under Head Coach Rob Cathcart (2019).

The game was a rematch of the 2022 final, won by Campbell, 16-14. The Cougars also beat the Pioneers, 6-0, in Litchfield last month en route to a 9-0 regular season and the No. 1 seed in the tournament. But that history went out the window Saturday, as Trinity built an early 21-0 lead and never looked back.

“Last year at this time, we knew why we lost. We knew we could not play on the line of scrimmage with those guys and they took it to us,” said Cathcart. “We didn’t feel like it was that way anymore. We put a lot of work in the weight room, we’d gotten a lot strong and felt we could stop them on the line of scrimmage. So, we felt like we could play their game, but could also get into the open spaces.”

Cathcart was proven right. The Pioneers dominated the line of scrimmage, rolling up 388 yards of total offense, including 195 yards rushing. Trinity set the tone for the game on the first two possessions. After forcing Campbell into a three-and-out, the Pioneers put together an 8-play, 65-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run by Thibault.

Trinity doubled its lead on its next possession, thanks to some aggressive play calling by Cathcart. Facing fourth-and-1 at the Campbell 45, Service faked a handoff, dropped back and hit Thibault, in stride, on a slant. The senior raced, untouched, into the end zone, making it 14-0.

Thibault said he knew the play had a chance to go the distance as soon as he stepped to the line of scrimmage and saw Campbell’s defensive set.

“My eyes were big, I knew the safety was coming up on the run, so I knew it was gonna be wide open and I just made (the) play,” he said. “The last two games we played against them, they were the more physical team. They were hitting us, we couldn’t get our offense rolling. Today, to be able to set the tone, shut them down, make big plays, that’s what won this game.”

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Thibault, Devohn Ellis and Service have been three-year starters for Trinity. Having had to settled for being state runners-up as sophomores and juniors, a state championship was a satisfying way to end their high school careers.

“I’m so proud of my team, we worked so hard, really put so much into the preparation,” said Service, who completed 5 of 6 passes for 193 yards. Of that total, 88 came on a spectacular individual effort by DiGiantommaso. Facing 3rd and 33 from his own 12-yard line, Service flipped a little swing pass to DiGiantommaso in the right flat. At best, the play was the designed to get punter Connor Bishop out of the shadow of the goalposts.

But DiGiantommaso had other ideas. With no room on the right side, the speedy sophomore reversed field and headed left. Somehow he made then corner, got a key block from Ellis, broke three tackles and broke free down the left sideline for an 88-yard touchdown, giving Trinity a 21-0 lead with 8:16 to play in the second quarter.

“I’ll tell you what I’ve told everyone else, my mind just went black,” said DiGiantommaso. “I saw Devohn make a great block on Scott and then everything went black and I wound up in the end zone with everyone on top of me.”

Throughout the season, DiGiantommaso has grown into a solid three-way football player for Trinity. But the State Tournament has seen his emergence as a genuine star. In two games, he’s caught three touchdown passes and run for two more. Defensively, he recorded a sack in each of the tournament games and was one of the Pioneers’ leading tacklers.

“Anthony has amazing speed and he has also decided to put in the hard work necessary if he wants to play college football,” said Cathcart. “And I think he’s made a decision that he wants to do that. He’s a legit college prospect. He’s worked real hard in the weight room, gotten stronger, worked on his body and now he’s just tough to deal with.”

Down 21-0, Campbell (10-1) was able to close the gap before halftime. A 1-yard touchdown run by Braydon White (11 carries, 41 yards) capped an 8-pay, 44-yard drive. The drive had been set up by a personal foul by the Trinity kickoff coverage team. It was the first in a series of miscues by the Pioneers that helped Campbell claw its way back into the game.

On its next possession, Trinity was hit with a holding penalty, followed by a delay of game on the coaching staff for trying to call a timeout with none left. A misplayed snap resulted in an 18-yard loss and the ensuing punt set up Campbell at the Trinity 35.

It took Campbell just one play to take advantage. Senior Gavin Osgood connected with junior Nick Hershberger on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The Trinity defense stuffed Scott Hershberger on the 2-point conversion try, but the Cougars had cut the lead to 21-12, with 1:55 to play in the half.

With time winding down and momentum shifting to the defending champs, Trinity was desperately in need of a big play. It got two. An 18-yard run by Ellis set up the Pioneers at the Cougars 45-yard line. On first down, Service connected with DiGiantommaso in a 10-yard “in” route. The sophomore nearly lost his footing but kept his balance and sprinted, untouched, into the end zone. A PAT by Bishop (6-for-6) gave Trinity a 28-12 lead at intermission.

An 8-yard scoring run in the third quarter by DiGiantommaso all but sealed the championship. The rest was handled by the Trinity defense, which played an outstanding game. Sophomore Dominic Detone had a huge game defensively, as did Thibault, Jeff Hickey and Alex Oyaronbi, among others.

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Campbell rushed for 175 yards but needed 45 carries to get there, an average of just 3.9 yards per carry. And when they needed a big stop, the defense came through, stopping Campbell on 4 of 5 fourth down attempts.

Thibault capped the scoring for Trinity with a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

 

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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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