Roberts scores in All-Star game
MANCHESTER – Merrimack’s Ian Roberts scored on a 39-yard touchdown reception, but Team East built a four-touchdown cushion and claimed a 28-14 victory over Team West at the CHaD NH East-West High School Football All-Star Game on Saturday at Saint Anselm College.
It’s the East’s second straight victory in the charity all-star game.
Alvirne’s Bennett Parkinson, who was elected a captain for Team East, said the preparation started from the first day of practice a week earlier.
"We came together," Parkinson said. "We knew they had a lot of skill, but we knew we had some dogs. We just had to work our tails off and we came to practice everyday and worked our butts off."
Team West highlights included a 39-yard touchdown pass Roberts from Goffstown’s Casey Gervais in the fourth quarter, which was followed by a 6-yard touchdown pass from Gervais to Bishop Guertin’s Nick Lorden to cut the deficit to 28-14.
Lorden had a game-high five catches for 49 yards, while Roberts tallied a team-high 61 receiving yards on two catches.
Bishop Guertin’s Jackson Housman had an interception for West.
However, none of that was enough to stop Team East, along with Timberlane’s Jason Hughes, who took home the game’s MVP award.
Hughes completed 13 of 20 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also picked up 31 yards on the ground.
East struck first with 2:34 to go in the first quarter when Winnacunnet’s Brian Auffant picked off BG’s J.T. Hiscoe and returned it 50 yards for a score.
East added to the lead with 58 seconds left in the half on a 12-yard pass from Hughes to Londonderry’s Nick Donnelly for a 14-0 halftime cushion.
Hughes hooked up with Donnelly for a 20-yard touchdown strike with 6:30 to go in the third quarter, before East capped its scoring with a 10-yard aerial strike from Hughes to Exeter’s Hunter Long.
"We picked character kids and our goal was to put the kids in the right positions and have the right depth so we could platoon them like we did tonight," said East head coach Craig Kozens. "They accepted the challenge, bought into their roles and man did they execute.
"Can’t ask for anything more."
West head coach Paul Lavigne admired his squad for continuing to fight in the fourth quarter despite the deficit.
"I’m proud of the kids. I don’t think they gave up and they played hard right to the end," said Lavigne. "Team East, they played very well and they were well-coached. I give them a lot of credit. They took advantage of our mistakes and they deserve it."
"We’re all All-Stars," Roberts said. "We’ve all been down before, we’ve all been up before and just because you’re down doesn’t mean you stop trying."
Nashua North’s Mike Muchemore led West with eight tackles, while Milford’s Kody Palladino tallied seven tackles and North’s Greg Stanton had six.
West leads the all-time series 3-2, although Team East has won the past two games.
The score wasn’t the most important numbers to emerge from Saturday evening.
All 81 players – including 15 from Greater Nashua – fundraised for the Childen’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) and the All-Stars donated over $70,000, which is the most in the game’s history. Sponsorship and ticket sales pushed the proceeds to over $250,000. Over past half decade, the game has raised over $1.3 million to benefit critical CHaD services and programs.
Greater Nashuans were heavily involved in the Team West passing game. Bishop Guertin’s J.T. Hiscoe split time at quarterback with Goffstown’s Casey Gervais, while Lorden, Merrimack’s Ian Roberts, Nashua North’s Devin Leonard and Nashua South’s Collin Morrow and Zavier Williams regularly ran routes.
Roberts provided the most explosive play of the day for Team West. The former Tomahawk broke loose down the sideline, made a leaping snag in coverage and barreled into the end zone for a 39-yard score to break up the shutout with 11:18 to go in the game.
"It was a little hitch-and-go play and they had been pressing us all game, so we stopped on a little hitch, they bit on it and I just took off," Roberts said. "Gervais threw it up and it was a good ball. All-around, it was a good play."