Loss doesn’t dampen meaning of game for West

MANCHESTER – The West all-star football team huddled with coach Keith Jones after losing Saturday’s CHaD East-West NH High School Football All-Star game.

The players listened while Jones addressed them one last time, fol­lowing a 29-15 loss to the East. When the coach was done, some play­ers wandered off to find their friends and fami­lies.

But others stayed put, surrounding Jones. One by one, they shook his hand and thanked him for the previous week’s experience.

While they all wanted to leave the field with a win, the players and coaches seemed pleased with what they were able to do over the previous week while preparing for the game.

"We only had a week until the game, but with­in that week, we got a lot of work done," Nash­ua North’s Matt Laval­lee said. "We had great chemistry and we just came out and tried to ex­ecute on the field. It’s not about the final score, it’s about the kids.

"It was a great group of guys. We were like one big family with one goal, and that was do the best we could for the kids and win the game. We couldn’t win the game, but we did the best we could when it came to raising money for the kids."

Jones said several times throughout the week, and again after the game, that character car­ried a lot of weight when he and his coaches were picking the team, and he felt he saw a lot of that on Saturday.

"These kids, the one thing they got out of this is that they really understood why they were here," Jones said. "I told them, would we have liked to have won the game, absolutely, but there’s a bigger pic­ture here. It’s important and they all believe it. They’re a great group of kids and we had a lot of fun.

"It’s sad we only get them for a week, because they’re good kids and you like to make relationships with good kids. It was spe­cial. I’m glad we did it and it was very enjoyable."

Character on the field

Jones got to see that character in action in the fourth quarter, when the West, behind Concord quarterback Robert Law, marched down the field with a chance to pull with­in a score.

The drive came up short in the end, but it was what Jones had hoped he would get from his team of all-stars, who had been stymied on offense in the second half to that point.

"No matter what was to happen, we can’t quit now," he said. "We’ve got to go out with guns blaz­ing. That says a lot about their character. They didn’t quit, but (the East) ultimately wore us down."

The same could be said for the East all-stars after they turned the ball over five times in the first half. The game was far from over at the break as the West only able to score off one of those miscues.

"Once I realized they’d turned it over five times in a row, I mean, that’s a lot," Lavallee said. "We should have scored a couple of more times. We had op­portunities, we just didn’t execute."

East running back Jack Mahoney, from Alvirne, said the team knew at halftime that it was still in the game.

"It was just a matter of executing," he said. "We were beating them off the ball in the first half and our line was controlling them, but we just kept giv­ing the ball up. We were two plays away from it be­ing scoreless."

Future teammates

Eric Fairweather, of Londonderry, was named The Bo Dickson Most Valu­able Player after rushing for over a hundred yards and scoring three touch­downs, all in the second half.

While it was tough for Lavallee to watch, he was pleased to think the next time he sees that happen, he’ll be on the same side, as he and West teammate Josh Perry (South) will join Fairweather at Saint Anselm College.

"It was tough to see him do it (Saturday), but this game, win or lose, we’re just trying to have fun and do something for some­body who needs help," La­vallee said. "I know next time, he’ll be on my side, so it will be pretty good."

Fairweather was look­ing forward to it, as well.

"They’re great guys and I’m excited to play with them," he said. "I’m excit­ed to play here, too."