BELLINGHAM – Ahead of Friday night’s game, the Bellingham High football team had a message they wanted to send to the rest of the Tri-Valley League.
“We are still the best dog in TVL Small,” said Bellingham trainer Dan Haddad. “That was the message (to enter), but the point is they’re a great team that fired a lot of players, we didn’t.
“That was probably the most important thing was’ are we going to be too inexperienced? “Sometimes today it showed. But overall it was our seniors who really guided us.”
Dover-Sherborn arrived in confidence with a 4-0 record and having won nine of his last 10 games dating back to Fall Season II.
“Our only flaw in the last 10 games is at Bellingham,” Raiders coach Steve Ryan said ahead of Friday’s game. “So there is a lot of motivation to get them back.”
Dover-Sherborn, however, failed to get revenge as the Blackhawks handed the Raiders their first loss of the season with a 35-24 victory.
“We came into this game knowing we were going to win,” Bellingham wide receiver Calvin Polchlopek said. “We showed them what we were doing and look at it, 4-0 to 4-1. What can you say?”
With the win, Bellingham improves to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in TVL Small. DS falls to 4-1 and 1-1 TVL Small. The Blackhawks have won five straight games against Dover-Sherborn since the 2016 season.
“From the start of the week on Monday I knew we were going to win,” Bellingham senior quarterback Gavin Elder said. “I was confident all the way. We trained like that and it showed in training and that’s what it takes to beat a team like this. It’s a good team. , props for Dover. But we just fought and did our thing. “
The Raiders first got on the board when junior quarterback Dan Sullivan connected with senior receiver Johnny Bennett on a 20-yard touchdown pass that gave Dover-Sherborn a 6-0 lead with 6:09 to play in the first quarter. It looked like DS was going to extend their lead on the next drive after a big comeback from Bennett, but the Raiders were forced to hit a 28-yard basket, which missed the wide to the right.
From there, Bellingham set to work.
Second and 12 off the Blackhawks’ 43-yard line, Elder joined Polchlopek for a 57-yard touchdown pass to tie the game just 11 seconds into the second quarter.
Later in the frame, Elder found Polchlopek, once again, on the left sideline for a big 42-yard gain that set up a 2-yard TD run for senior running back Mike Adams, this which gave Bellingham a 14-6 lead with 3:47 left in the first half.
“It’s great, I grew up with him,” Elder said of Polchlopek. “We played together in Pop Warner, we’ve always had that connection.… We’ve always had a close connection.”
DS would respond on the next drive when Sullivan hooked up with wide receiver Brian Olson on a 13-yard pass on goal with less than a minute left in the halftime as the Raiders went down 14-12 at halftime.
The tide started to turn completely in the Blackhawks’ favor in the opening kickoff of the second half when the Blackhawks recovered an offensive kick. Adams smashed a 33-yard run to the Raiders’ one-yard line before Elder himself mistook it for a touchdown as Bellingham increased his lead to 20-12 just two minutes into the third quarter.
In the second drive play that followed, Sullivan found Olson on a 71-yard bomb that reduced the deficit to just 20-18 with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Elder, however, channeled the “anything you can do, I can do better” manta as he outshined Sullivan with an 84-yard touchdown pass to Polchlopek to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 26-18.
“I love that stuff,” Elder said. “This kid can play but I feed off this competition. That’s exactly what I want in this game. I don’t want a rash. I like playing in games like this because that’s what that motivates me and motivates me. ”
Elder finished with 278 yards on 12-for-17 passes and two touchdowns while adding the lone rushing score. Polchlopek had two touchdowns on 206 receiving yards while Adams rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
“What is there to say about Gavin that hasn’t already been said,” Haddad said. “He’s a great leader and he just does the little things that need to be done that are not seen.
“Him and Calvin, that connection has been phenomenal and once Calvin is in the game he’s in the game and Mike Adams is just a bull. He loves touch, he loves hitting and crushing people. even surprised me on some of his races today. ”
After a Friday night declared victory over previously undefeated Dover-Sherborn, Bellingham is not relinquishing his TVL Small crown without a fight.
“It’s amazing,” Adams said. “To beat a team 4-0, there is nothing better.”
“They came in and thought we were going to be easy,” Polchlopek said. “But like I said, we were ready and showed them what we were doing and did our thing. It’s also a huge win for the playoffs and I can’t wait to get there.”
Ethan Winter is a senior multimedia sports reporter at the Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EWints.