Trinity comes out on top in battle of Division III juggernauts

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Campbell’s Scott Hershberger is tackled by a whole bunch of guys. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Barring the astronomically low chances of a tie, only one NHIAA Division III football team was leaving Friday night undefeated and that team turned out to be the Pioneers of Trinity High School.

Trinity defeated Campbell 36 to 22 in a contest that remained close for much of the night, as one would expect from two teams entering the day with matching 4-0 records.

Each team took a touchdown on their opening drive: Scott Hershberger running home an 11-yard score for Campbell, followed a Jack Service goal line keeper and a subsequent two-point conversion that knotted the game back up at 8-8.

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DeVohn Ellis with the ball. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Jack Kidwell closed Campbell’s first drive of the second quarter with another rushing touchdown, this one from four yards out, followed on the next Trinity drive by another Service touchdown.

Unlike Trinity’s first score, they couldn’t follow the second touchdown with a two-point conversion, one of many moments that could have been the pivotal moment of the night. A blocked punt just on Trinity’s next drive that gave the Cougars back the ball within the red zone with just over seven seconds left in the half served as another potential turning point, but three consecutive incomplete passes ended the second frame with the score left at 16-14.

The potential critical moments continued as the teams returned for the second half. Campbell got first crack at the ball after a recovered onside kick, beginning a drive that saw Hershberg run the ball seven times in a row, beginning at the Trinity 48-yard line and ending with a 22-year touchdown. And yet, Campbell’s follow up two-point conversion attempt was not good, putting the Pioneers back within one score of knotting up the contest again.

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Bobby Kinsella (#20) and Jack Service (#11) celebrate after a touchdown. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

That scoreboard deadlock would come about a minute later, as Service connected on a 22-yard pass to fellow junior DeVohn Ellis, evening things up once again at 22 all.

Perhaps the truly pivotal moment came on the first play of the fourth quarter as Campbell’s 11-play drive to that point had brought them within Trinity’s red zone once again. Instead of a fourth score, a botched snap and a barely recovered fumble put the Cougars almost back to half field, leading to a punt and a shift in momentum toward the hosts.

Trinity would capitalize, as Service found junior Bobby Kinsella on a 25-yard strike, giving Trinity their first lead and what would be a permanent lead. Trinity freshman Anthony DiGiantammmaso received credit for the Pioneers’ other score, a 13-yard run coming on a five-play drive that followed another Campbell punt.

Hershberger continued to get the ball as Campbell’s hopes faded, ending the night with 252 yards of rushing, more than everyone else on both sides combined.

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Trinity’s student section was happy after Friday’s contest. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Trinity Head Coach Rob Cathcart praised Hershberger’s field vision and Campbell’s overall toughness.

“They were what we thought, they did a really good job of it and they gave us everything we could handle. We had a really tough time stopping them,” he said.  “We are not as big and strong, so it’s tough for us to deal with that. We had a hard time with it and they came close to taking it from us, we just managed to weather it and get a few big plays and that was the difference.”

For Campbell Head Coach Glen Costello, the key factor was the difference in level of competition between Trinity and Campbell’s first four opponents, which they outscored by a combined 107 points.

“The message going into this week was you’ll have to play four good quarters of football to beat (Trinity),” said Costello. “We’ve had some lopsided scores this year, so our guys aren’t really used to playing four quarters.”

Both Costello and Cathcart found positive takeaways from the contest and neither wanted to assume that this contest would automatically repeat in the Division III Championship game, touting Monadanock and Fall Mountain, with both teams joining Campbell at 4-1 after Friday’s contests.

“We really try to preach that it’s one game at a time, but historically we can be our own worst enemy,” said Costello in regard to fixating on any one opponent. “The message this year we’re trying to get to our guys is to be the best version of themselves whether they’re playing Monadnock or Trinity or Stevens.”

Next Friday night, Trinity travels to Kearsarge while Campbell will host Monadnock on Saturday.

About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.