Saturday, March 8, 2014
SOUTH BERWICK - Every football coach will tell you that turnovers are killers. That point was emphatically emphasized Friday night.
Marshwood High turned three Westbrook fumbles into touchdowns as the Hawks ran way from the Blue Blazes 33-0 in a Western Class B game.
This was expected to be a tight showdown between two of the better teams in the conference, but Marshwood's defense throttled Westbrook's attack, forcing four turnovers overall.
"All week long Coach (Alex Rotsko) prepared us for what we expected out here," said Beau Blanchette, a senior defensive tackle/tight end for the Hawks. "We executed the game plan. We played our keys. Our defense played a phenomenal game."
Marshwood is 3-0, Westbrook 2-1.
Quarterback Luc Blanchette, Beau's younger brother, led the Hawks with three touchdowns, all in the first half. He gave the Hawks a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a slippery 15-yard run around left end and the PAT.
Then Beau Blanchette stepped up with the biggest defensive play. Westbrook, taking advantage of a muffed punt recovered by Maurice Johnson, drove to the Hawks' 4-yard line. But the Blazes were penalized 5 yards for an illegal shift and fumbled on the next play. Blanchette recovered at the Marshwood 13.
The Hawks then went 87 yards for a touchdown, this time a 1-yard sneak by Luc Blanchette.
"We were looking at 7-7, then the turnover," said Rotsko. "And then we got the big drive to put us up two scores. And it wasn't just the score, it was a time-consuming drive."
Jeff Guerette, Westbrook's coach, said the timing of the turnover was as crucial as the turnover itself. Westbrook was poised to score.
"We need to do a better job coaching in the red zone," he said. "As coaches we need to make that more of an emphasis so that we can execute when we get down there. When you get chances against a very good team like Marshwood, you've got to take advantage of it."
Westbrook was never able to sustain any long drives after that, partially because Marshwood's defensive front played a superior game, chasing quarterback Kyle Heath all over the field and bottling up the dangerous Collin Joyce. Beau Blanchette had several huge hits and sacked Heath twice.
"We just executed perfectly," said Beau Blanchette.
"Well," said Luc Blanchette, "I wouldn't say perfect. We executed all right."
Rotsko laughed: "One's talking offense, the other defense," he said.
All right was more than enough, especially for Luc Blanchette. He rushed for almost 100 yards and threw for 53 yards.
"He's a dynamic player," said Guerette.
Luc Blanchette scored on a 16-yard run just before the half to make it 19-0, again slipping a couple tackles along the sideline. "I guess it's just instinctual," he said. "When I see something I go for it."
He provided balance to the Hawks' offense, which was paced by Brett Gerry, who rushed for 101 yards and bulled his way in for a 2-yard score in the third quarter.
Westbrook lost three turnovers in the second half, one on an interception by Jackson Howarth. The two lost fumbles led to Marshwood touchdowns, by Gerry and Howarth.
"As coaches we've got to do a better job of stressing job security," said Guerette. "You can't turn the ball over four times and expect to win."
Not against a quality opponent like Marshwood.
Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: