I/G football ends playoff run in Level 3
by Beth Kraft
The scoreboard didn’t look at all the way the Independence/Gilmanton football team had hoped when the final buzzer signaled the end of the No. 3 Indees’ bid to unseat top-ranked Edgar in their Level 3 playoff game. But the glaring 52-14 result that brought I/G’s season to a close on Friday night, Nov. 7, doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
Turning out an 8-4 overall record (6-1 DC) this fall, the Indees put together a program-best effort not seen since the team recorded seven wins and made it to Level 3 in 2007. This year the Indees’ high-powered offense dropped 40+ points on four opponents and outscored opposing teams by an average of 24 points in each of their eight victories.
The I/G squad also rattled off six straight victories for an undefeated mark in the Dairyland Conference that held until the Indees clashed with Eleva-Strum in the final regular season game Oct. 17 for conference championship bragging rights, resulting in both squads sharing the DC crown as co-champs.
I/G may have bowed out of the playoffs with a lopsided outcome last Friday night, as Edgar capitalized on the Indees’ mistakes and created plenty of scoring opportunities of their own, but it’s safe to say the I/G squad featuring a quad of Gilmanton seniors in DC Lineman of the Year Desmond Davis, all-conference quarterback/utility man Weston Gumbert, cornerback Weston Werlein, and lineman Connor Cooke had a memorable year as part of a football team that was one of just eight remaining in Division 6.
Edgar took an 8-0 lead early in the game, but the Indees quickly answered back as Gumbert found Ace Whitwam for a 21-yard strike and an 8-6 score. Edgar passed for its second touchdown to take a 16-6 lead into the second quarter, and that’s where the wheels fell off the wagon for I/G. Gumbert was intercepted for a 40-yard Edgar TD, after which the undefeated host squad pounded the Indees with a mix of running and passing to take a 35-6 lead at the half.
Edgar tacked on two more scores in the third quarter while continuing to hold the Indees’ offense at bay, then returned an I/G fumble for their final score and a 46-point lead in the fourth. I/G showed some fight when Austen Whitwam ran for a 52-yard touchdown to give the Indees the final word, but Edgar’s big-time passing that amounted to a total of 214 yards was just too much to contain.
For the game, Gumbert was 6-for-15 passing for 85 yards and one pick, connecting with Ace Whitwam three times for 50 of those yards. Austen Whitwam led the Indees’ ground game with 135 yards on 24 carries.
Following I/G’s 16-6 loss to E-S in the regular season finale, the Indees rebounded to squeak past Melrose-Mindoro, 14-13, in Level 1 and dispatched Rosholt 22-14 on Halloween to reach Level 3.
All four teams advancing to Level 4 for the chance to move on to State in Division 6 are No. 1 seeds that have handily defeated their opponents throughout the postseason thus far.