SWANZEY CENTER — Chandler Matson is gone. Tim Hart is gone. Tim Santaw is gone.
Lincoln Blodgett is the last remaining piece of the Monadnock Regional High football team’s lethal backfield from last year.
Monadnock graduated 17 seniors from its 2018 state championship roster — including nine of its 13 All-State selections.
Among those graduates were the primary yard-and-touchdown machines of the Huskies’ wishbone offense: Matson, their first team All-State running back and two-time Division III Player of the Year; Hart, his partner in crime and fellow running back, who made the first team as a linebacker; and Santaw, their mobile, first-team quarterback.
Blodgett also made first-team All-State — as a linebacker.
On offense, he was the humble fullback, tenaciously setting blocks and creating holes for his mates to run through as they racked up the stats. Until now, that is.
With Matson and Hart gone, Coach Ryan Avery said Blodgett will take over as one of the team’s two starting running backs. He has also been named one of Monadnock’s co-captains. Blodgett has big shoes to fill, but he does have two big things going for him: experience, and the classic Monadnock blue-collar mentality.
“I think he knew that role all along was gonna be his,” Avery said. “He could’ve been a running back for us last year, but he was just so helpful to the team at the fullback spot. Now that those other kids have graduated, he’s moved into a bigger role where he can be a 20-carry-a-game type of guy, and has really embraced that type of style.
“He wants to be that guy, he wants to be the one who gets the ball in his hand.”
Blodgett showed flashes of his potential as a runner last year, especially in the playoffs. He ran for two scores in the Huskies’ first-round win over Somersworth, and carried the ball 14 times for a season-high 79 yards in their semifinal win against Hillsboro-Deering.
Avery said Blodgett is one of the fastest players on the team, and fits the classic mode of the hard-running, downhill-style back.
“He is definitely a kid that just loves the contact and loves the physicality of the game,” Avery said. “He’s one of those guys that’s undersized [5-foot-8] but he plays like he’s 6-5. He plays with so much heart and so much effort. It’s awesome.”
Blodgett said moving from the three-point stance of a fullback to the two-point stance of a running back has been a transition, especially in terms of not committing false starts, but also said his experience as a fullback gives him special insight for his new position.
Blodgett knows what the best blocking schemes look like, and he knows how to run around the blocks his teammates set for him, because he used to be the one setting those blocks.
“Multiple times during the scrimmages we’ve had, I’ve realized that our blockers can do better, or they’re doing a great job,” Blodgett said. “I know how to run off those blocks, because I’ve done them before.”
As for his role as co-captain, it’s a leadership position Blodgett is familiar with, though not with the football team. As a junior, Blodgett was a co-captain on last year’s Monadnock boys’ hockey team that finished as the Division III runner-up.
He was a first-line wing who often played second fiddle on the stat sheet to senior center, co-captain and eventual D-III Player of the Year Chris Boucher, but his hard-nosed play helped set the tone for the Huskies’ powerful forecheck, which was the ignition to their scoring engine.
Playing football and hockey, Blodgett is accustomed to deep playoff runs, and he is well-versed in the Monadnock Way: a rough-and-tumble, blue-collar style of play, no matter the sport.
“Everybody kinda looks at him like, ‘How are we supposed to feel? How are we supposed to act? What are we supposed to do?’ ” Avery said. “It’s awesome to have a guy like that on your team that’s been through so many situations like that.”
Joining Blodgett as a co-captain will be senior lineman Joey Drew, the only other returning first-team All-State player from last year.
Playing alongside Blodgett in the backfield will be junior Justin Joslyn, someone Blodgett is used to working with. The two were linemates on the hockey team last year, and Joslyn played alongside Blodgett as the Huskies’ other inside linebacker last year, earning second team All-State honors.
Blodgett’s speed, toughness and insight for blocking schemes and running lanes have already shown through in spades on this side of the ball. He’s occupied the starting inside linebacker spot since he was a sophomore and made All-State in both seasons (second team in 2017, first team in ’18).
But as a key leader on a defensive squad that graduated most of its starting lineup, including five All-State selections (Hart, nose tackle Nate Alley, defensive end Joey Joslyn and defensive backs Cole Jarvis and Joe Morrell), his role figures to increase on this side of the ball as well.
Blodgett indicates he’s more than comfortable with taking on not only a more substantial role, but also a leadership role.
“It’s a lot of responsibility, but I really enjoy helping those kids,” Blodgett said. “It’s more of like a team, like a family, it’s not a ‘dad and son’ thing. We’re all together and we all help each other.”