STAMFORD — Once was clearly not enough for the King School football team.
The Vikings did not allow the rain, the wind or Portsmouth (R.I.) Abbey School to stop them from repeating as NEPSAC Class C champions Saturday as King rolled to a 27-6 triumph at home before a thrilled partisan crowd.
“It’s so special for all the seniors to win their last game on this field,” King’s Kelly Gouin said. “I grew up on this field. I’m thrilled that our group won back-to-back NEPSAC titles. Everybody stepped up when they were needed. It wasn’t one guy, it was everyone. As Rick Flair would say ‘We ALL were The Man, today.’”
It was the King seniors who led the charge after Portsmouth Abbey (7-2 overall) took a 6-0 edge after one quarter.
Gouin caught touchdown passes of 35 and 24 yards. Fullback Evan Townsend-Henry (30 carries, 93 yards rushing) bulled into the end zone from 4 yards out. Quarterback Renn Lints (15 of 27 passing, 242 yards) added the clinching TD on a 1-yard quarterback sneak with 5:28 to play.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
But it was the defense that turned the momentum as King (9-1 overall) captured its third-ever NEPSAC crown (1996, 2016, 2017).
Junior linebacker Kenny Dyson (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) was the difference maker Saturday.
Dyson stopped Portsmouth Abbey’s leading rusher Logan Kreinz (21 carries, 67 yards before leaving injured at end of third quarter) three times on fourth down to end drives.
And Dyson’s pressure on Ravens senior quarterback Michael Meads resulted in interceptions by Bobby Cribbin, Gouin and Justin Zide of King.
“I was just trying to make the most of my opportunities,” Dyson said. “I want to be a leader next year. And to finish the job for the seniors this year meant so much.”
“Kenny (Dyson) can be very special here and in his future,” said King coach Dan Gouin. “Big-time players make big plays.”
TOUGH TO BE ONE-DIMENSIONAL
Portsmouth Abbey succeeded all season in the Evergreen Football Conference behind a triple-option running attack.
Once King went ahead, the Viking defense had a good idea what was coming. QB Meads completed 6 of 14 passes for 61 yards in the less-than-ideal conditions.
“King’s linebackers were tough. Their defense made big plays,” Portsmouth Abbey coach Al Brown said. “Our effort was good. It was a great experience for us since much of our group is returning.”
A DAY THE FAMILY WON’T FORGET
Saturday’s NEPSAC Sean Brennan Bowl title resonated throughout the Gouin family.
King veteran coach Dan Gouin saw his faith in the senior group when they were young and learning pay off handsomely.
He was able to share this crown with former King standout and 2017 Volunteer Assistant Coach Tucker Gouin, who didn’t win a NEPSAC crown in his Viking playing career.
“Tucker worked so hard this season on our staff,” Dan Gouin said. “I’m thrilled that he was a part of this championship journey.”
And Kelly Gouin – who will play lacrosse at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Maryland next fall — had a performance dreams are made of (two touchdown catches, one interception, three important punts to change field position).
Kelly Gouin was used sparingly the last six weeks of the regular season so he could gut it out for a championship.
“My hamstring has bothered me since last spring. Today was my last football game for King. I was going to go,” Kelly Gouin said. “Our success is about the team not me. We are a brotherhood. All of us are always together. Nobody is left out. Trailing 6-0, the defense said ‘This can’t happen again.’ And everybody stepped up.”
No one was prouder at the final horn than his dad.
“It was a great way for Kelly to go out,” Dan Gouin said. “And the people here got to see what all the members of the football program knew all along. Opponents run away from Kelly on defense.”
KING 27, PORTSMOUTH (RI) ABBEY 6
PORTSMOUTH ABBEY 6 0 0 0—6
KING 0 14 0 13—27
PA—Logan Kreinz 12 run (kick failed)
K—Evan Townsend-Henry 4 run (kick failed)
K—Kelly Gouin 35 pass Renn Lints (LeVaughn Lewis pass Lints)
K—Kelly Gouin 24 pass Lints (James Scarlata kick)
K—Lints 1 run (kick failed)
Records: Portsmouth Abbey 7-2; King 9-1.