Londonderry 31, Salem 14
Theodosi runs for 228 yards in leading Lancers to upset win.
By Gary Fitz Telegraph Staff
SALEM – At its best, the Single Wing offense, invented in the early days of football, is a thing of simple, not subtle, beauty. Why risk the exchange between center and quarterback? Why risk a handoff?
Why not snap the ball directly to your best ball carrier about four yards behind the line and let him and his blockers do the rest?
That was the strategy employed by Londonderry High School on Friday night in its stunning 31-14 victory over Division I co-favorite Salem.
On 42 offensive plays the snap went directly to senior halfback Alex Theodosi. The result was 228 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
"It was great,'' Theodosi said. "Our line fired out and stayed low. I had the easy job. They made the holes, all I had to do was find them.''
The tone was set early. Londonderry returned the opening kickoff to its own 34 and Theodosi got the first eight snaps, turning the eighth into a 34-yard touchdown run. It wasn't until the Lancers' 11th offensive play that the ball went to anyone else. With the element of surprise established, Ryan Griffin hit Jim Curro for a 20-yard pass.
Griffin would hit Curro again for 30 yards in what became an 11-play, 83-yard scoring drive. But the last four snaps went to Theodosi, who scored his second touchdown from 2 yards away to make it 14-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
Salem would begin to slow down Theodosi, at least temporarily, and closed to 14-7 at halftime. The Blue Devils would fumble away the second-half kickoff and Theodosi would help set up a 22-yard field goal by Cody Byrd.
But Griffin took a blow to the head early in the second half and was out for the night, narrowing Londonderry's already short list of offensive options. Momentum was shifting. Salem needed just two plays, a 54-yard option pass from Shane McMahon to Kevin Sledge and a 13-yard touchdown run by James Stewart to close to 17-14 late in the third quarter.
Salem had the momentum and stuffed Londonderry on its next two possessions. But then the Lancers' Brandon Jackson delivered the defensive play of the game.
With the Blue Devils at midfield and poised to drive for the go-ahead touchdown with about nine minutes left, he came from the blind side to sack Salem quarterback Hal Landers and jar the ball loose.
Jackson recovered the fumble and Londonderry went back to Theodosi on seven of its next nine plays. On fourth and two from the Salem 6, he took it off left tackle and bounced outside for a 7-yard touchdown that made it 24-14 with 3:35 left. Two minutes later he finished it off with 48-yard sprint down the left sideline.
It was a far cry from Londonderry's performance a week earlier in a 31-7 loss at Manchester West.
"We got pissed off, upset, and we came out to play our best,'' Theodosi said. "I like this offense because we go right at you.''
Londonderry coach Tom Sawyer said the frustration of the loss at West caught up with his team on Wednesday, and Sawyer turned his team loose on each other.
"It was all about attitude,'' Sawyer said. "They knew how bad we played last week and we let them know about it all week. Defensively we didn't execute the game plan.
"We had a big session on Wednesday where we went live at each other for about 15 minutes. When we warmed up tonight we were ready. I didn't know if we could beat them. I think they're the best team in the league.''
© 2006, Telegraph Publishing Company, Nashua, New Hamphiser