Gaudet wins MVP as West beats East in CHaD All-Star game
Concord's Walters Ndi weaves his way through the East's defense in the annual CHaD All Stars East v. West football game at St. Anselm's College in Manchester on Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
West's Walters Ndi is pushed out of bounds in the annual CHaD East v West All Star football game at St. Anselm's College in Manchester on Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
A pass intended for the East's Manny Latimore sails past as he is tackled by West defensemen Donald Pellerin and Logan Lamoureux (of Concord High) in the annual CHaD NH East/West All Star game at St. Anselm College on Saturday, June 28, 2014. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
West's Harrison Urda intercepts a pass intended for East's Jake Geppert during Saturday's annual CHaD East/West All Star football game at St. Anselm's College in Manchester. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
MANCHESTER – Defense led the West team to a 24-7 victory in yesterday’s CHaD NH East-West All-Star game at St. Anselm College. And Concord’s Marc Gaudet led the defense.
“We had Marc Gaudet leading us as a linebacker, telling us what to do, and we just followed him and came out hard and played with heart,” said Trinity’s Brad Rhoades, who is from Epsom and started at cornerback for the West. “It was great to see the way everybody just performed together.”
Gaudet finished with a team-high six tackles, including one for a loss, and an interception, and he was named the game’s MVP for his efforts.
“I was a little surprised when I heard my name, to be honest, but I was happy. I feel blessed, truly blessed, to have this right now,” Gaudet said, the Bo Dickson MVP trophy tucked under his arm.
“He’s a good one, and I tell you, he’s got a lot more in him than he showed today,” West Coach Paul Lavigne said of Gaudet, who will play at East Stroudsburg State in the fall. “You could put him any place you want. He’s a great kid and a great football player.”
Gaudet wasn’t the only player from Concord’s 12-0 state championship team to impact yesterday’s game. Dylan Naylor started at defensive tackle and finished with three tackles. Inside linebacker Logan Lamoureux lined up next to Gaudet, who was on the outside, for most of the day and had two tackles. And Walters Ndi led the West in rushing with 69 yards on 15 carries.
“They all worked hard and they’re all great kids,” Lavigne said of the Crimson Tide contingent. “(Concord) Coach (Eric) Brown and Concord High School and the city of Concord should be very proud of those guys. Obviously a Concord kid got the MVP, but the other three weren’t too far behind.”
Rhoades finished with two tackles and one interception for the West. Dwight Alford, who was a captain for the Division III champion Bow team this fall, didn’t start but saw time on both sides of the ball, playing right guard on offense and defensive end, where he had two tackles, one for a loss. Merrimack Valley’s Cole Martin also played on both sides, seeing some time at receiver and some at cornerback, where he had two tackles, including one for a loss.
The East team had just one local player, Pembroke Academy’s Zach Wiggin. He was an East captain, played all over the defensive line (three tackles, one sack) and saw some time at fullback.
“I was completely honored to be a captain,” Wiggin said. “I kept telling my coach that I was so honored that he picked me. It really meant a lot to be captain for the East-West game.”
The West defense held the East to just 131 yards, came up with four interceptions and four sacks, didn’t allow a first down until the second quarter and gave up just eight all day, and didn’t give up any points until Pinkerton Academy’s Manny Latimore ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
“I thought our defense was picking things up well for the last two weeks, but I didn’t know how good they were, so I couldn’t get a handle on how good we really were,” Lavigne said. “But when we came out on the first series and did a great job against them, then I knew we were for real.”
The coach may have had some doubts, but not Gaudet.
“I knew. I had confidence. The first time I saw those kids, I knew,” said Gaudet, who was a West captain. “I thought we were going to shut them out, and we were close, but I knew we had ’em. My defense, we were killing it today.”
While the West defense stole the show in the end, the offense (332 total yards, 19 first downs) helped the team establish early control. After the defense forced a three-and-out on the first series of the game, the West offense drove 69 yards in nine plays, including three rushes from Ndi for 18 yards, and took a 6-0 lead with 9:54 left in the first quarter. The score came on a 7-yard pass from Nashua South’s Trevor Knight (4-for-14, 71 yards, one touchdown) to Manchester Central’s Nick Makris (five catches, 84 yards).
“We were just tough on offense. We were a little undersized, but we played out every play,” Ndi said. “We were ready to go.”
The West defense forced another three-and-out on the East’s next possession, and the offense went right back to work. It took advantage of a short field this time, going 36 yards in five plays for a 12-0 lead. Hanover’s Shawn Cavallaro (13 carries, 58 yards, two touchdowns) gained 27 of those yards on his scoring run when he shed multiple tacklers on a fourth-and-1 before breaking free for the touchdown.
The West was forced to punt on its third possession, but not its fourth. It upped its lead to 18-0 with 12:35 to go in the second quarter when Cavallaro scored on another fourth-down carry, this one from the 1-yard line.
“Our offense came out so strong, and that was really helpful,” Gaudet said. “It got the defense pumped up. It was awesome.”
The East had to sit with that 18-0 deficit during halftime, but the team stayed positive.
“We kept our heads up,” Wiggin said. “We made some offensive adjustments at halftime, that’s why we came out throwing, but on defense we felt like we were holding them.”
Dover’s Derek Stegman took over for Portsmouth’s Donovan Phanor as the East quarterback in the second half and Stegman did find some success through the air, finishing 7-for-16 for 86 yards.
That air game eventually led to Latimore’s touchdown late in the third that cut the West’s lead to 18-7. But the West answered with its next possession, going 80 yards in 11 plays and completing the scoring when Merrimack’s Devin Gillis hit Milford’s Mitchell Banuskevich with an 8-yard pass with 14:27 left in the fourth.
“I definitely had fun out there. Getting to know all my new teammates, getting close with them and the coaches and having a good time the last two weeks, it was definitely a good experience,” Wiggin said. “Nobody really knew each other, but somehow we bonded, and people on other teams that I wasn’t friends with before, we became a family.”
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or 369-3341 or on Twittter @timosullivan20.)