Monadnock Regional High School seniors Nate Doyle and Zion Carroll connected for three touchdowns, leading the Huskies to a 20-6 win over the Keene Blackbirds Friday night in Swanzey.
“It was a good win,” said Monadnock head coach Ryan Avery. “I’m so proud of how hard the team played. We’re not big in numbers, but we’re huge in heart.”
After a scoreless 22 minutes to start the game, Carroll caught two long touchdown passes from Doyle in the final 2:07 of the first half to give the Huskies (3-0) a 14-0 lead heading into the locker room.
“They’ve been working hard together to create that connection,” Avery said. “They’ve been working hard in the off-season to get that connection and figure out that timing and they’re doing well with it.”
The third touchdown connection between the pair came with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
“(Doyle) has been throwing some good balls,” Carroll said with a laugh. “In practice it looks a little bit iffy, but in-game he just hits it spot on.”
“(Carroll) came in and we just started throwing and it clicked, and it’s been like that ever since,” Doyle added.
The Huskies defense shut Keene down throughout the game. The Blackbirds (0-1) put together a few drives into Monadnock territory but were unable to convert until junior Jarrod Rokes scored a touchdown for the Blackbirds with under a minute left to play.
“(The defense) played well,” Avery said. “(Keene) is a good football team, they’re physical and they’re big up front.”
Keene’s defense forced two fumbles on the night, one of which put them deep into Huskies territory, but the Monadnock defense prevented the Blackbirds from converting on either turnover.
“(The defense) was so disciplined and they just played their hearts out,” Avery said. “They didn’t make the mental mistakes. Against a team like (Keene), mental mistakes are going to absolutely bury you.”
Friday not only marked a renewal of the local rivalry between Keene and Monadnock, it also marked Monadnock’s senior night to recognize the eight seniors and their contributions to the team.
“It’s probably one of the biggest games that’s been talked about in the community,” Doyle said. “I’m glad I got to play against (Keene on senior night) rather than another team. This is better than winning a championship because those people over there are our friends.”
“This is the biggest win of my life,” said Carroll, a former Blackbird.
“It’s great for these kids because they grew up with those kids playing youth sports and all that, so it’s a fun match-up,” Avery said.
Monadnock travels to Newport High School on Saturday, Oct. 17, for a 1:30 p.m. game. Keene travels to Lebanon High School next Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.