Hype builds at Concord, Bow high schools as championship games approach
Excitement was palpable in the Concord High School gymnasium yesterday afternoon, as the football team ran in donning their crimson jerseys to loud cheers from their classmates.
“CAN I GET A ROLL . . .” the student emcees shouted.
“TIDE!” the crowd answered back.
This afternoon, scores of students will show up at Memorial Field to cheer on their classmates in the Division I championship game against Derry’s Pinkerton Academy. It’s the team’s first bid for the state title since 2002, and potentially its first championship win since 2000. All week, as the game drew closer, the collective pulse inside the halls of Concord High got faster. A similar level of excitement has also been building in Bow, where the football team will take on Claremont’s Stevens High School in the Division III championship game. Both Concord and Bow have home field advantage.
“This whole week has been crazy,” said Aelin Shea, a senior and emcee at yesterday’s pep rally. “I have a few classes with the football players and they’re all jacked up. . . . They’re just waiting to get on that field. It’s crazy, it’s awesome, really energetic.”
At the pep rally, students had a chance to show off their spirit, and one freshman started a spontaneous “Go Concord High” cheer that spread throughout the gym. The players encouraged their classmates to cheer louder, the cheerleaders performed and a Concord High alumnus from the 1982 football team that lost in the championship game spoke to the students.
“Thirty-one years ago I had an opportunity to play at Memorial Field; we did not bring home the bacon, but this team will,” Glenn Mathew said while holding his old varsity jacket.
All season, attendance at the games has been growing as the team’s wins tallied up. If they win today, they’ll be the first undefeated championship team in the school’s history. Principal Gene Connolly said he’s been greeted with “Go Tide!” all around town.
“It’s going to be huge,” he said of the game. “It’ll be a citywide event; it’s bigger than Concord High.”
The football players, who are cautiously confident, appreciate the support of their classmates and the community.
“It’s been awhile since the school’s had a state championship for football. It’s progressively gotten better as the years go on with school support, and now everyone’s really supporting us,” said senior Logan Lamoureux, a team co-captain and middle linebacker. “All of our students that come, they come ready to cheer us on.”
If the noise of yesterday’s crowd in the gymnasium was loud, today’s crowd is likely to dwarf that.
“Tomorrow,” senior emcee Ryan Donnelly yelled to the students. “One o’clock, Memorial Field, you better be there.”
With Bow boys’ golf and girls’ soccer teams already taking home state titles this year, today’s football game isn’t the school’s first shot at a state championship this season. But it could be the football team’s first championship win in nine years.
“We’re going to make history if we end up pulling this off,” senior captain Mike Johnson said. In the past, “(the football) team never made it to the playoffs, and when we did, we got shut down. So we’ve always had kind of the respect problem, but this year, I feel we have the respect that we need and everyone’s behind us.”
They are indeed.
“Everyone’s been excited because this is the first time in a long time that Bow’s made it to the finals,” said senior Sam Cheney, who is not on the team. “We’re all pretty proud of the guys, and we’re gonna go support them.”
Just as in Concord, the whole community is invested in the game. Parents from the school’s booster club and volunteers with youth sports programs continually show their support, and students in the family and consumer science courses have made huge pots of chili to sell at the game, Principal John House-Myers said.
Senior Ross Cook also said he’s excited to see his friends take the field. Cook said he played football when he was younger, and he can’t believe his friends are headed for a state title.
“It’s sick. I’m excited for them, especially having all the seniors on the team,” he said. “Seeing all your friends play in the game, it’s something really intense that we’re all excited for.”
It’s bound to be a busy day on the Bow High School campus, with the school’s annual craft fair also running this morning. Shuttle services will be set up from the town’s other schools where people can park. At the team’s semifinal game, the crowd numbered 700 fans. Today, they’re expecting up to 1,000.
“I think alumni will come back, I think this will be a big celebration,” Superintendent Dean Cascadden said. “It kind of caps off a big fall. We’re proud of our athletic teams. It’s not always about winning, but man, this fall has just been an incredible season.”
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)