LISBON — It is one thing to make sure tackles, something the Lisbon High School football team has worked tirelessly on since the very first practice.
On Saturday against Poland at Thompson Field, Greyhound linebackers Dakota McIver, Cole Bolduc and Cam Bourget took sure tackling a step further, punishing the Knights’ running backs nearly each time they touched the ball with booming hits.
The result: A dominating 50-8 Lisbon victory on a sun-drenched day in front of a packed home crowd, giving the Greyhounds a 2-0 start to the season.
McIver and Bolduc led Lisbon with eight tackles each. Both forced a Poland (0-2) fumble as the Knights put the ball on the ground five times in all, losing two. Bourget had seven solo tackles as the Lisbon defensive starters held the visitors to just 79 total yards of offense through three quarters.
“Dakota likes to hit, and that gives us an identity on defense,” Lisbon coach Chris Kates said. “He hit the gaps and always hits hard. Very happy how he played today, along with Cole Bolduc and Cam Bourget.”
The first seven minutes of the contest told the tale as Lisbon jumped out to a 22-0 before the fans were comfortable in their seats.
After a three-and-out on Poland’s first drive, a short punt gave the Greyhounds the ball at their own 48-yard line. Nine plays later, Lucas Francis was in the endzone for a quick 6-0 lead.
The Knights gave the ball right back as Noah Buiniskas gobbled up a fumbled snap at the Poland 27. St. Dom’s product Robbie Dick broke off an 18-yard run, and Isaiah Thompson scored on the next play from the 7-yard line for a 14-0 lead with 5:37 remaining in the opening quarter.
Another lost fumble, this one recovered by Bourget, gave Lisbon a short field to work with. Francis (4-of-6, 92 yards) wasted no time, stepping back on the next play and lofting a 44-yard TD pass to Bradley Harriman. Thompson ran in the conversion and Lisbon led 22-0 with 5:07 left on the first-quarter clock.
“They’re a good football team, very physical, and much more physical up front than we are,” Poland coach Gene Keene said. “We did have a little bit of early success, but when you turn the ball over, that ends that early success and gives the momentum back. You just have to give credit to Lisbon.”
“Anytime you can jump out early in a game, it gives you confidence, and I am pretty happy how we came out today,” Kates said.
On defense, the hits by the Lisbon defense kept coming.
“I think we played really hard and hit really hard,” McIver said. “We wanted to show that we’re not messing around. We are going to come out and play our game, which is to be hard hitting. The start of the game showed where we were at coming into here. Our intensity never changed.”
Lisbon kept the pressure on the Poland (0-2) defense in the second quarter as Harriman found a gap and sprinted 27 yards to the endzone for a 30-0 advantage.
Kates was pleased with the offensive line, which continually opened holes.
“I was worried at first coming into the season, but the front line is the same old power blocking. I am very happy with the way the offensive line played today,” he said.
The Greyhounds rushed for 377 yards on 37 carries in the contest.
Poland’s defense stood tall throughout the rest of the first half, with Joe Ringuette recovering a Lisbon football after Aaron Paradis stripped the ball away. Late in the first half, Gawain Tibbetts intercepted a Francis pass in the endzone.
“The kids are staying positive, and they’re young and have some work to do to get to this level,” Keene said. “We will go to work Monday and try to learn some things from this game. We will move forward.”
Lisbon’s starting offense began the second half by marching 78 yards on just four plays, capped off by a 10-yard TD run by Thompson, who led the Greyhounds with 131 yards on 12 carries.
The backups provided additional offense later in the third quarter, as quarterback Seth Leeman went down the Lisbon sideline for a 47-yard score and a 44-0 advantage heading to the fourth quarter.
Paradis, who paced the Knights with 61 rushing yards on 17 carries, found the end zone with 4:45 remaining and ran in the 2-point conversion to get the visitors on the board. Lisbon’s Daytona McIver finished the scoring with a 1-yard TD run and finished with 59 yards on the ground on eight rushes.
Now, Lisbon will begin preparations for its first road game, Friday night at Mountain Valley.
“I preach to our kids to have a short memory whether you win or lose. We will move on to next week and get ready for a good Mountain Valley team,” Kates said.