There was absolutely nothing about Londonderry football that should have come as a surprise to opponents.

If they had the ball, they were running it. Period.

Sure, they threw the ball 79 times this season, but 41 of those came in two games (against Pinkerton and Nashua South) where they trailed for much of the game. Other than that, defenses could expect a healthy diet of Alex Theodhosi and Ryan Griffin running. Running at them, around them, through them and over them.

Double reverses, flea flickers, halfback passes? No such deception was used in Londonderry's repertoire of hard-nosed, smash-mouth football. Why should they have been?

Theodhosi picked up 2,041 yards on the ground, more than anyone in the area since The Eagle-Tribune started keeping track of stats in 1995 and well ahead of the previous mark of 1,843. He ran for 300-plus yards twice, gaining 340 on 33 carries against Concord and 332 on 36 last Saturday against South, and he broke 200 three times in a row (250, 209 and 278 against Salem, Central and Memorial, respectively). He was also held under 100 yards just three times.

Griffin, second in the area on the run, picked up 707 yards in a largely complementary role while he battled a few injuries. Three times this year he picked up 100 or more yards.

Impressive numbers by any measure, but it's truly remarkable because there was no sleight of hand involved. The two boys that composed the fearsome Londonderry backfield weren't magicians -- they were muggers. They took everything they got through blunt force. What you saw was what you got: an offense that would just pound you on the ground until it reached the end zone. Theodhosi and Griffin combined to reach that goal 40 times in 11 games.

Londonderry's overall offensive output, as a result, is staggering. The Lancers put up a gaudy 346 points on the year, almost 60 points better than their next closest competitors, Salem (289). With that overall number, of course, comes brutal score lines. They beat Memorial 39-0, North 41-6, Trinity 56-6, Concord 47-13. Most of those scores, by the way, were played with second and third stringers for almost half the game. Meanwhile, the Lancers also gave up the third fewest points in Division 1.

The season seems like a pretty decent way to send off 27-year coach Tom Sawyer, who has not officially announced his retirement. Most players on his team, however, have acknowledged that they would have liked to have won a state title, not only for themselves, but for Sawyer as well.

The only teams the Lancers lost to were West, South (twice) and Pinkerton, the other three Division 1 playoff teams. Costly turnovers hurt the Lancers in most of those games, but only once -- against the Astros -- did they struggle to run the ball.

The 35-31 loss to South was almost a microcosm of the season. Theodhosi ran the ball with remarkable effectiveness (36 carries for 332 yards), and Londonderry, as it was all season, was in it until the end.

Theodhosi and Griffin combined for four touchdowns and the Lancers matched top-seeded South score for score, except in the second quarter when the Lancers were outscored 14-10. Sawyer and Co. settled for a 24-yard field goal from Cody Byrd as time expired.

Still, for a team that lost its leading rusher, an All-Star lineman, and their leading tackler from a year ago, a 7-4 record makes for a pretty good season. Hats off to the Lancers.

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