NEW HAVEN—The King School football team finally took its first step as defending NEPSAC Class C titlists Saturday.
In an afternoon of fits and starts, King displayed enough championship pedigree to post a 36-7 Fairchester Athletic Association road triumph over Hopkins School at Parr Field.
“It was good to get our first win, but we know that we have to play better,” King senior quad-captain Evan Townsend-Henry said. “We can’t have slow starts. Hopkins saw the target on our backs. They played like a team that wanted to beat the New England champions.”
The first quarter was scoreless as the King offense was thwarted by an interception by Hopkins’ Tyler Cipriano and a defensive stand inside the Hilltoppers’ 10.
But King found its big-play mojo in the second period.
A 72-yard touchdown connection from Vikings senior quarterback Renn Lints to senior wide receiver Reid Gesauldi and a 46-yard bull rush to paydirt by Lints made it 12-0.
Hopkins took advantage of a shanked punt after a penalty nullified a good punt to take over at the King 21. Two plays later, Owen Sherman raced into the end zone from 8 yards out. Declan Goulding’s conversion kick made it 12-7 just 2:52 before intermission.
King took the Hilltoppers’ hope away on the next play as Lints broke four tackles and ran 65 yards for a touchdown at 2:23. A two-point pass made it 20-7 at halftime.
King, which graduated just four seniors from its 2016 squad that was 9-1, added two more touchdowns in the third quarter and were content to control running time in the fourth quarter.
King’s offensive statistics were impressive on paper.
Lints finished the humid day with 173 yards rushing and two TDs on 13 carries. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vikings (1-0, 1-0 FAA) amassed 250 yards rushing on 34 carries but hurt themselves with too many penalties.
“Big plays are stars, but we relied too much on them. We were sloppy offensively,” King coach Dan Gouin said. “Defensively, we were in the right spots, but we tackled very poorly. We were fascinated with making the big hit instead of the sure tackle. That’s not our recipe for success.”
EFFORT AND HEART
Although Hopkins is 0-2 on the season, the Hilltoppers gave their home faithful plenty to feel good about.
Hopkins junior running backs Owen Sherman (51 yards) and Doug Guilford (44 yards) worked hard on the ground game while senior quarterback Quinn Schneider (8 of 17 passing, three interceptions) added 99 yards through the air.
But the Hilltoppers lacked the roster depth, the experience and the physicality to deal with King for a full 48 minutes.
“We came out with fire and intensity. We tried to play at King’s level,” Schneider said. “King’s size and talent wore us down. Against a formidable program like King, playing to the best of our ability is all we can ask of ourselves. And we did that.”
“Hopkins is a better football team this year,” Gouin said. “Their program is moving in the right direction.”
“Physics caught up to us. King is phenomenal and looks on their way toward another New England title,” Hopkins coach Tim Phipps said. “We threw some punches but ran out of steam. I’m very pleased and proud of our effort. We asked for marked improvement from Week 1 (36-0 loss at Fieldston) to Week 2. It was a tall order while facing King, but our kids responded.”
KING 36, HOPKINS 7
KING 0 20 16 0—36
HOPKINS 0 7 0 0—7
K—Reid Gesauldi 72 pass from Renn Lints (kick failed)
K—Lints 46 run (run failed)
H—Owen Sherman 8 run (Declan Goulding kick)
K—Lints 65 run (LeVaughn Lewis pass from Lints)
K—Lewis 40 pass from Lints (Evan Townsend-Henry pass from Lints)
K—Riley Howe 4 run (Lints run)
Records: Hopkins 0-2; King 1-0 FAA.