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November 22. 2013 12:29AM

Div. III: Bow back rises to occasion


Running back Matt Ehrenberg turns a corner against Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough during Bow's 42-0 victory last Saturday in the Division III semifinals. Ehrenberg is the first Bow player to rush for more than 1,000 yards. (HARRY KOZLOWSKI)


At a glance

DIVISION III
Stevens (8-2) at Bow (9-1), 1 p.m.


Second-seeded Stevens of Claremont will be attempting to win its first state championship in football since 1962 and the school's first state championship in any sport since 1989, when the boys' soccer team won the Class I title. … Top-seeded Bow last won a state title in 2004. … Each team has a 1,000-yard rusher. Stevens' Donald Pellerin has run for 1,377 yards and 22 touchdowns on 255 carries. Bow's Matt Ehrenberg has rushed for a school-record 1,380 yards this season. … Bow posted a 28-14 victory over Stevens in Bow during the regular season. Ehrenberg was held to 75 yards on 15 carries that day, but the Falcons scored in each quarter. Pellerin gained 70 yards on 17 carries in the loss. Stevens quarterback Ryan Tanguay completed 11 of 16 passes for 139 yards. … Bow advanced by defeating previously unbeaten Pelham 18-6 in the Division III South championship game, and then knocked off Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough of Meredith 42-0 in the semifinals. Alex Reitze, who missed the first five games of the season with appendicitis, was Bow's leading rusher against Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough with 98 yards on 14 carries. … Stevens beat Newport 34-6 in the Division III West championship game, and then eliminated Epping-Newmarket 13-0 in the semifinals. … Seven of Bow's opponents failed to score more than seven points. The Falcons have posted four shutouts. Teddy Nappen, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle, is among the standouts on the Bow defense. … Stevens hasn't allowed more than six points in a game since Week 5. The Cardinals have given up 24 points in their last five games.

Roger Brown's pick: Bow 21, Stevens 20

BOW — There is nothing Bow High School's Matt Ehrenberg would like more than to send his good friend and fellow running back Alex Reitze off with an NHIAA Division III football championship.

"That would be fantastic," Ehrenberg, a junior, said of Reitze, a senior. "That's what we are all trying to do."

A season that began almost a year ago with winter conditioning culminates Saturday on the home field of the Falcons, the first football title game ever held in Bow. The division's top seed and owner of a 9-1 record, Bow hosts No. 2 Stevens High of Claremont (8-2) at 1 p.m.

The Falcons have won nine straight — including a 28-14 victory at Stevens on Sept. 21 — since a season-opening loss to Pelham, and Ehrenberg is one of the major reasons for their success.

"He's been our go-to guy on the offense since Week 3," said Bow coach Paul Cohen. "Matt is a potent force, someone the other team has to stop.

"Fortunately no one has stopped him yet."

Ehrenberg, has gained 1,382 yards this year, becoming the first Bow player to surpass 1,000. He's also scored 22 touchdowns, including six in a 43-23 victory over Bishop Brady of Concord and four last week in a 42-0 semifinal rout of Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough, a cooperative team of players from two Lakes Region schools.

"He's very elusive. He can run at different speeds, and he's fast in the open field," said Bow's athletics director, Jim Kaufman. "Most of all, he's really competitive."

Ehrenberg started the season as the Falcons' No. 2 back, behind Reitze, but when the senior was felled by illness — coincidentally in that Week 3 victory over Stevens — the junior stepped in and stepped up his game.

"I credit the offensive line," said Ehrenberg. "They're big and powerful. They really move people back. It makes my job much easier."

Cohen didn't know what he had in Ehrenberg when the season began, the coach said. As a sophomore, Ehrenberg has spent most of his time at defensive back.

"Matt was a diamond in the rough," Cohen said. "We saw some natural ability before, but we wondered what he could do over a season."

Ehrenberg has been so potent on offense, his contributions at safety and on special teams sometimes get overlooked.

But not by Cohen.

"Matt is our field general on defense, commanding everyone in front of him," Cohen said. "We adjusted our defense to facilitate Matt's role."

The adjustment has worked. Bow's average of 8.4 points allowed per game is the best in the entire state, and the Falcons have recorded four shutouts, including two in the last three games.

On special teams, Ehrenberg is Bow's top punt returner and part of a rotation of kick-off returners. He almost never leaves the field.

Cohen expects Stevens to focus on stopping Ehrenberg, but Ehrenberg said such a strategy would only lead to someone else producing for the Falcons.

"We can give the ball to anyone we want. We're still going to put points on the board," he said.

Bow certainly did that in its first meeting with Stevens, but, said Cohen, "Both teams have improved greatly since we played last."

Like the Falcons, the Cardinals are riding a significant winning streak, having prevailed in seven straight games since back-to-back losses to Campbell of Litchfield (21-20) and Bow.

Before last Saturday's 13-0 shutout of the Epping/Newmarket cooperative team in the semifinals, Stevens had allowed just six points in each of its previous four games.

On Saturday, it would appear, putting points on the board will be a major challenge for both Division III teams.



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