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Big play for Bow’s Berube, a big-time player

  • Bow’s Andrew Berube (71) and Christopher Wheeler (62) lead the Falcons onto the field before a 49-0 win over John Stark on Saturday in a Division II football matchup in Bow. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow’s Andrew Berube (71) grabs a tipped ball for an interception and returns it for a touchdown during a 49-0 win over John Stark on Saturday in a Division II football matchup in Bow. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow’s Andrew Berube (71) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on an interception during a 49-0 victory over John Stark on Saturday in Bow. Berube is a senior captain and four-year starter for the Falcons. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow’s Andrew Berube (71) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on an interception return during a 49-0 victory over John Stark on Saturday in Bow. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 9/21/2019 11:02:34 PM

The ball spun with a lineman’s dream, and Bow’s Andrew Berube couldn’t take his eyes off it.

“I saw it up there and I was like, ‘That’s mine,’ ” Berube said.

The 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior watched the deflected pass into his hands at the John Stark 15, sprinted for the end zone and broke a tackle at the goal line for his first high school touchdown. The Homecoming crowd at Bow High erupted, the Falcons sidelines went even wilder and Berube couldn’t stop smiling.

“It was amazing. That was a goal today, a defensive touchdown. And on a pick for him? That was insane,” Bow senior Steven Guerrette said after the Falcons’ 49-0 win on Saturday. “The look on his face, he couldn’t believe it.”

Guerrette had 109 yards and a touchdown on just six carries. Bow’s defense held Stark (1-2) to 28 total yards. The Falcons improved to 3-0 and continued to look like the team to beat in D-II. But there was no question about which play had people talking after the game.

It started with Stark quarterback Nathan Tower trying to throw a pass to the flat, but Bow defensive end Cooper Larrabee read the play, timed his jump perfectly and tipped the ball high into the air. Berube spotted it immediately, but had to wait for the thing to come down. He did bobble the ball as he crossed the goal line, but he regained control for the score to give the Falcons a 21-0 lead with 1:22 left in the first quarter.

“The defensive touchdown is always an awesome thing,” was the first comment from Bow coach Paul Cohen after the game. “And for a defensive lineman to score a touchdown like that is very rare indeed, and for a senior captain, that’s one of those moments where you take a picture of that and stick it on the refrigerator for generations down the road.”

The Berubes will probably make room for that picture, but the refrigerator is crowded. Andrew’s older brother, Alex, was also two-way standout for the Falcons and a Second Team Division II pick as an offensive lineman after his senior season in 2016. Andrew had reason to think about his older brother on Saturday.

“The last time I got my hands on the ball was my freshman year when my brother (a senior at the time) strip-sacked the quarterback and I picked it up and ran with it,” the younger Berube said.

Another moment from freshman year helped sharpen Berube’s focus as he waited for the spinning rock to land in his hands on Saturday.

“Took me back to freshman year, I almost got one then, but it just turned into me knocking it out of Nate Alford’s hands,” Berube said. “So I needed to make sure I caught it this time.”

Berube started playing football in fourth grade and his only other touchdown came in eighth grade when he recovered his own team’s fumble in the end zone, “but this one today was my first touchdown running into the end zone, it felt amazing,” he said.

“(Berube) started working for us as a freshman, so he’s got a long history as a varsity football player,” Cohen said. “He’s gotten bigger each year, better each year, and I think this was really the capstone for him to score that defensive touchdown.”

A play that big is a fitting capstone for Berube. He started both ways as a freshman, helped Bow reach the D-II finals in 2016 and 2017 and was a First Team D-II pick as an offensive lineman in 2018. There will likely be more accolades and another playoff run this year, and Berube will likely use that as a springboard into college football.

“He’s such an imposing presence,” Cohen said of the kid they call “Chewy,” after the Star Wars character. “When we’re on defense he can occupy two or three blockers, and when we’re on offense he can blow open a giant hole and our running backs, off they go down the field.”

“The whole line is great, and especially (Berube),” Guerrette said. “They’ve all been playing together for a long time, and they’re big. They’re the hogs. Those holes, they open up and you just see green, not a guy in front of you. You can just hear the other team grunting when they get hit by those kids, defense and offense. Those two defensive tackles, Berube and (William) Zachistal (6-2, 284), it’s brutal in there. No one wants to get hit by them, they don’t want to go down there.”

Berube loves the brutality, but he’s got another side, too. One of his elective classes this year is unified physical education, an inclusive class that mixes mainstream and special needs students.

“I have him in that class and he’s great in it,” Bow athletic trainer and teacher Cliff Chulada said. “He’s a kid that wants to do the right thing.”

When the Falcons’ second-string players were in the game during Saturday’s second half, Berube was carrying the bucket of water bottles to them during breaks. When the reserves were on the field, Berube was engaged and yelling encouragement and instructions, like many of Bow’s starters.

“He’s solid on both sides of the ball, and he’s also a solid leader, a solid captain, a solid kid,” Cohen said. “He’s exactly what we look for in someone who has worked his way up to be a senior leader.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341, or on Twitter @timosullivan20)

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