West is the best once again

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Staff Writer

DURHAM – Joe Albina had one job on the final play of Saturday’s game. The Milford High School graduate executed his block perfectly, leading Goffstown star Connor Benjamin around the right side of the line and clearing a path to the end zone for West’s 13-7 overtime victory in the 2nd annual CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Football Game at the University of New Hampshire’s Cowell Stadium.

Defense ruled the day with just two touchdowns in regulation – the first coming late in the first quarter and the other early in the fourth quarter – but it was Benjamin’s burst of speed to the outside on just the second play from scrimmage during West’s four-to-score opportunity from the 10 that closed things out.

Fullbacks Ryan Carrier (Trinity) and Albina led the charge, as Carrier blocked an East tackle coming from the backside and Albina got on the outside linebacker to seal the edge. Then it was Benjamin all alone versus a corner back.

“I think they might have been expecting the run up the middle there, and coach Schubert, he called a great play – a toss right,” said Benjamin of West head coach Jim Schubert’s decision. “We didn’t even run it like all game, so I was just looking to get to the corner and the pylon, and as I was taking it right there was just one guy to beat there, and I could either cut it inside or outside and I had him beat. It was a great feeling to get it in.”

When the call came in from the sidelines, Albina was focused on just one thing.

“So that 48 call, if we can get the edge – we had to get that edge – and all game we just couldn’t get around that corner,” Albina said. “But this play, I don’t know. We just all worked for it.

“Coming around the corner, Carrier filled, blocking that tackle they had coming through the backside, I come around the edge and turn the corner and the linebacker is right there and I hit him. Connor just takes off and is one on one with the corner and beats him to the end zone. I’ll bet one-on-one with Connor Benjamin any day; he’s going to take it.”

The West squad had the ball second in the extra session. Surprisingly, it had the chance to win courtesy of it’s defense.

Bishop Guertin’s Nick Marino and Souhegan’s Tyler Ford came up big for West as East’s overtime series from the 10 only lasted three plays.

“We had momentum at the end of the game,” East head coach Bob Camirand said. “That’s why we scored with the Straight T late in the game. We get into overtime and we get in the T, got down to the 1 and you know what, that’s why you play it out. Things happen; that’s the way it goes.”

On first down, Ford tackled on East’s Jamie Vogt (Exeter), who carried for 4 yards. Marino then met East’s Ryan Monette (St. Thomas) at the 1, forcing him out of bounds.

“I watched the toss play,” said Marino of the second down-overtime play. “I see him coming to my side and know I have to beat him to the spot. I met him at the 1 and got on the inside shoulder and just forced him to the sideline.”

Trying to push it up the middle, Vogt then lost the football on third down and Ford jumped on it to shut out the East and set the stage for Albina, Carrier and Benjamin.

“Luckily, I snuck in there after they made the tackle,” said Ford of his third-down recovery in overtime. “There was a big hit and all of a sudden I see the ball sitting on the ground. I said, ‘That’s mine,’ and I jumped on it. It may have been in someone else’s hand under the pile, but I might have taken it from him. I came up with it.”

The defensive stand in overtime got Nashua South offensive lineman Christian Stack pumped up for the game’s final series.

“I’d say everyone on our defense did a stellar job today,” Stack said. “They saved (us), and I will thank every single one of them until the day I die for that. They worked hard for me, and I worked hard for them – that’s how we won this.”

For the longest time it appeared that West’s Bedford duo of quarterback James Caparell and receiver Brian Collins would be the only two putting points on the board.

Two connections – one for 47 yards and the other a 1-yard scoring strike – in the first quarter held up for three quarters in the defensive clash.

Monette would make sure that wasn’t the case in the fourth quarter. The St. Thomas graduate, who led all rushers with 102 yards on 25 carries, found paydirt from the 1 with 10:48 left in regulation to tie things up at 7-7. Monette carried the ball five times for 34 yards on that scoring drive alone.

West almost finished it in regulation, driving toward the end zone with 4:30 remaining.

It got as close as the East’s 25 before burning it’s final timeout to set up for what would was a game-winning field goal attempt of 41 yards out.

The kick by Zach Ziemba (Manchester West) was blocked by game MVP Rick Holt (Portsmouth) and overtime was a necessity.

That last-second stop by East didn’t phase West’s coaching staff. In fact, Schubert liked what he saw on his team’s last drive down the field.

“We moved the ball pretty well at the end going down to kick the field goal,” Schubert said. “The kid never kicked a field goal, so I was just going to set up for the field goal and we got squat. But we were moving the ball, we just ran out of time and timeouts.

“I figured if we did get into overtime we do have a different offense inside the 10, and obviously they haven’t seen it all day because we haven’t attacked the goal line. And it worked out pretty well.”

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