HAMILTON — Not many players who took the field behind Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School on this rainy Saturday afternoon will be throwing mortarboards up in the air next June.
Triton has just four seniors on this year’s football roster, and the host Generals have a mere six on their 31-man roster. Yet while small in numbers, the 12th graders for both squads made an impact in this contest.
The visiting Vikings, however, also got strong outings from a trio of juniors — bruising back Jayden Torres, wiedout/kicker Liam Frils, and quarterback Beckham Zizza — that made the difference in their 20-13 win over Hamilton-Wenham.
Torres ran for a game-high 140 yards on 30 carries, scoring a pair of touchdowns. Frils caught four passes for 93 yards and also cranked a pair of field goals, while Zizza threw for 132 yards to move the chains at key junctures.
“We’re a work in progress; we just need to keep getting better every week,” said first-year Triton (2-1) coach Paul Sobolewski, who was hired in June. “What I liked is that we didn’t quit when we made some first half mistakes that could’ve cost us. They stayed together and made two huge red zone stops in the second half. You can tell we’re getting better.”
Hamilton-Wenham never led, yet stayed within striking distance throughout. After a 20-yard scoop-and-score off a fumble recovery by senior captain Cooper Soolman, the Generals trailed by only a touchdown with 10 minutes still to go.
Twice they got inside the Vikings’ red zone in that final quarter, and twice they came away empty handed. On the latter of those, Triton senior Ryan Nolan chased down H-W quarterback Henry Stinson on a fourth down rollout, resulting in a 3-yard loss and turning the ball over on downs with just 1:51 remaining. The hosts never got the ball back.
“At the end of the day we just made one too many mistakes,” Generals (0-3) coach Tim Freiermuth said. “Some costly turnovers, some bad snaps, a couple of penalties. But our guys battle, and I love coaching them because of it. We talk about resiliency all the team and although we’re small in numbers, it’s a group of guys who want to learn and get better.”
Senior captain Chris Collins nearly did it all for Hamilton-Wenham, finishing with 107 yards rushing and a touchdown, unofficially making a team-best 14 tackles, and stuffing Torres on 4th-and-1 from the HW 19 for a loss.
“That No. 38, he’s a tremendous player,” Sobolewski said of Collins.
Stinson, another senior captain, added 71 rushing yards. He was most effective when faking to Collins into the line before taking off himself.
Freiermuth was pleased that his line was much more cohesive Saturday, allowing H-W’s run game to get untracked. Of those five starters, only one, first-year starter Ben Choquette at center, is a starter. There’s one junior (Martin Baum, a second-year football player) at right guard, two sophomores (Ben Filipov and Robby Bozarjian) as the tackles, and freshman Hunter Lougee manning the left guard spot.
Hamilton-Wenham intercepted off three passes, with captain Alec Cote snaring two and sophomore Caden Schrock reaching around the front of Triton wideout to make one of his own. Triton also snagged two INTs as senior Jack Harding and junior Noah Markos killed H-W drives with picks.
It was 10-7 at halftime as Triton scored on a 34-yard run by Torres and had the first of Frils’ two field goals on the final play of the half. Hamilton-Wenham’s touchdown came on its first drive, answering the Vikings with a score of their own as Collins bulled his way into the end zone from 11 yards out.
Torres found paydirt again in the third quarter by going three yards off tackle, and a second three-pointer by Frils made it 20-7 before Soolman’s fumble return for the Generals.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids and when that’s the case, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes like we made,” said Sobolewski. “You just try to limit them and put yourself in a position to win at the end, which is what the kids were able to do. I’m really proud of them.”
“Our guys bring effort and attitude every day, which is great,” added Freiermuth of his squad. “That’s why we keep emphasizing the process and highlighting the positives, because with this group I really feel like things are going to break for us.”
Triton 20, Hamilton-Wenham 13
at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School
T-Jayden Torres 34 run (Liam Faris kick)
HW-Chris Collins 11 run (Collins kick)
T-Faris 20 field goal
T-Torres 3 run (Faris kick)
T-Faris 21 field goal
HW-Cooper Soolman 20 fumble return (kick failed)
RUSHING: Triton — Jayden Torres 30-140, Beckham Zizza 7-14, Bradyn Lopes 1-6; Hamilton-Wenham — Chris Collins 17-107, Henry Stinston 15-71, Caden Schrock 2-4.
PASSING: Triton — Zizza 8-14-132-0-3; Hamilton-Wenham — Stinson 6-17-54-0-2.
RECEIVING: Triton — Liam Faris 4-93, Ryan Nolan 2-24, Charlie Mollineaux 1-9, Joshua De Souza 1-6; Hamilton-Wenham — Alec Cote 2-25, Cooper Soolman 2-15, Schrock 2-14.