High schools: John Stark football grinds out season-opening win at MV

  • John Stark running back Thomas Johnston breaks for a long run against Merrimack Valley during the first half on Friday night, September 6, 2019 to start the 2019 football season. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • John Stark offensive lineman Joshua Booker greets running back Nikos Biskaduros (26) after he scored the Generals’ first touchdown during the first half against Merrimack Valley to start the 2019 football season on Friday night, September 6, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley running back Aslan Hodge gets upended during a kickoff return in the first half against John Stark on Friday night, September 6, 2019 to start off the football season. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Merrimack Valley defenders Seth Baylus (82) and Aaron Baker (33) gang tackle John Stark quarterback Nate Tower during the Generals first drive of the game which led to a field goal on Friday night, September 6, 2019 to start the football season around the area. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/6/2019 10:51:06 PM
Modified: 9/6/2019 10:50:52 PM

When John Stark lost starting running back Logan Beliveau in the final scrimmage of the preseason, coach Kevin McGinty installed a new offense in the week leading up to Friday’s season opener at Merrimack Valley.

“I tried to be as creative as I could with it so there wasn’t a big learning curve, but it makes a mess of things,” Mcginty said. “We only had 10 plays tonight, and three of them were passes.”

Turns out 10 was enough for the Generals. They got two touchdowns from Nikos Biskaduros, 120 rushing yards from Jacob Ridenour and two field goals from Kayden Easter as they ground out a 20-12 win against MV.

“Like I just told the guys, what I liked was their grit,” McGinty said. “We really are thin this year, you could see us wearing down at the end, and we’ve got guys playing out of position because other guys are hurt. So, they didn’t always do it pretty, but they toughed out a win against a much-improved Merrimack Valley squad.”

Last season, the Pride finished 1-8 while Stark was one of Division II’s eight playoff teams. But Friday night’s game did not look like a contest between the haves and the have-nots. MV quarterback Chase Keyser rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, Ethan Drapeau hauled in a 60-yard touchdown catch, the Pride had 268 total yards to 294 for Stark, and MV stayed in the game until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

“We felt they played well and they played hard,” MV coach Joe Raycraft said of his team. “We had some breaks that went against us, but that’s part of the game. It was a lot better than it was last year. They came to play and they never gave up, so there are positives.”

Merrimack Valley sophomore Seth Baylus had two of his three sacks on the game’s opening drive, which forced Stark to attempt a 31-yard field goal. That was no problem for Easter, a senior soccer player with a big leg who was a Second Team D-II North football pick last year as a kicker. Easter drilled his first attempt this season, giving the Generals a 3-0 lead with 5:57 to play in the first quarter.

MV was moving early in the second, but Stark’s Thomas Quinn batted down two Keyser passes on back-to-back plays, and then Ridenour and Jaxson Wood combined to stop Travis Knouse just short on a fourth-down play. The Generals capitalized on that defensive momentum with a 73-yard drive the other way that ended when Biskaduros swept left on a fourth-and-2 from the MV 3, gained the edge and found the end zone for a 10-0 Stark lead with 3:45 remaining in the half.

“The line did a great job on that,” Biskaduros said.

The Generals took that lead to halftime, but Keyser cut into it just two plays into the second half. With most of the Stark following Knouse, Keyser pulled the ball on the ride-option play, went around the left side and sped up the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown run. The PAT failed, but MV had cut the lead to 10-6, at least for a minute.

It only took the Generals three plays from scrimmage to answer. On a third-and-4 from the MV 40, Stark quarterback Nate Tower (5-for-8, 110 yards, touchdown) showed off his arm with a high pass down the left sideline. Biskaduros found the flight path, adjusted his route, made the catch and took off for the end zone while the MV defender was still trying to figure out where the ball went.

“That was amazing,” Biskaduros said. “(Tower) just lobbed it up there for me and I was able to make the catch.”

The Pride had a chance to get some points back early in the fourth when Aidan Monaghan recovered a fumble at the Generals 34. MV drove it to the 10, but then put the ball on the ground and Stark’s Brian McGinnin came up with a fumble recovery of his own.

The MV defense, which got great performances from Dylan Lessard and Zach Williams all night, forced a three-and-out to quickly give the offense the ball back and Keyser took advantage. He sent a long pass down the sideline on the first play of the drive and Drapeau made a nice catch and a well-timed cut to go the distance and make it 20-12 (the two-point rush failed) with 4:53 to play.

MV did get one final possession, but not until Ridenour and the Stark offense chewed up some clock and Easter rolled a punt to the MV 2 with 2:21 left in the game. The Pride pushed the ball out to its own 28, but Stark’s Thomas Johnston came up with a sack on fourth-and-4 to give the Generals the ball back and seal the win.

“This was a tough week for us with changing the offense and everything, so I’m so happy right now,” McGinty said. “This was a really good start for us.”

The Generals will try to keep it going next week in their home opener against three-time defending D-II champ Plymouth. Merrimack Valley will travel to Gilford-Belmont.

“We have some positives that we can work on and continue to work on to get better,” MV’s Raycraft said, “and we have to because Gilford is going to be a tough battle for us next week.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20)


Londonderry 48, Concord 6

Key players: Concord – Ronan McGonigle (3-yard TD run)

Highlights: The Lancers took a 34-0 halftime lead and rolled to a win. McGonigle scored on a 3-yard keeper in the fourth quarter to cut the score to 34-6.

Records: Londonderry 1-0; Concord 0-1

Boys’ Soccer

Concord 5, Salem 0

Key players: Concord – Alasdair Ferrier (2G), Mosi Masimango (2G), Alejo Caceres (G), Duvan Morikawa-Montenegro (midfield), Danny Aybar (defense), Brandon Comire (defense), Abbas Abdrulrahman (save, shutout)

Highlights: The Tide responded to a tough 6-3 season-opening loss with its first win of the season.

Coach’s quote: “It was a good way to respond to our loss. Solid team effort. I was pleased with how we played.” – Concord’s Scott Dunlop

Records: Concord 1-1; Salem 0-2

Bow 3, Souhegan 2

Key players: Bow – Daniel Leuchtenberger (2G), Matt Selleck (G), Aaron Burkett (defense), Nathan Dolder (defense)

Highlights: Leuchtenberger scored goals in the 65th and 75th minutes turning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory for the Falcons. Bow and Souhegan swapped penalty kicks after a scoreless first half, but the Sabers took a 2-1 lead in the 55th minute.

Coach’s quote: “We survived to play another day. Souhegan needed a win and played with energy and focus. Their game plan worked to perfection until the man in the superman cape took over, Daniel Leuchtenberger.” – Bow’s George Pinkham

Records: Bow 2-1; Souhegan 0-3

Hollis Brookline 5, Coe-Brown 2

Key players: Hollis Brookline – Ryan Coutu (goalie)

Highlights: The Bears trailed early and gave up an own goal and a penalty kick to erase any chance at a comeback.

Coach’s quote: “(Coutu) was key in big moments and every time we responded to their goals they got another. Then we stretched ourselves thin trying to catch up at the end and got punished. While it made for some entertainment, at the end of the day we weren’t consistent enough to get a result on paper even with some of the misfortunes we faced. We are learning a ton from these first season games. It’s up to us what we do with it.” – Coe-Brown’s Christian Gompert

Records: Hollis Brookline 1-2; Coe-Brown 1-2

Belmont 3, Laconia 1

Key players: Belmont – Lucas Mathieu (G), Kyle Whitcomb (G), Nate Sottak (G, A), Dylan Greer (A), Jacob Bivens (5 saves)

Highlights: Mathieu scored off an assist from Sottak in the first minute and Whitcomb and Sottak added second-half goals, breaking a 1-1 halftime score.

Coach’s quote: “Another solid win for a team playing with skill and confidence.” – Belmont’s Michael Foley

Records: Belmont 3-0; Laconia 2-1

Hopkinton 1, Derryfield 0

Key players: Hopkinton – Garrett Fitzgerald (G), Ian Heck (A), Aidan Burns (4 saves)

Highlights: Benny Madden played a strong two-way game in the midfield and Andrew Beckwith had several excellent attempts on goal, but it wasn’t until the 68th minute when Fitzgerald settled a cross from Heck for the game-winning strike. Derryfield’s keeper Charlie Butler made eight saves to keep the Cougars in the game.

Coach’s quote: “Exciting win tonight as Garrett Fitzgerald scored his first varsity goal at a key moment and Aidan Burns earned the first varsity shutout of his career. We played strong all night but had a number of other chances snuffed out by a hard-working and talented Derryfield keeper.” – Hopkinton’s Scott Zipke

Records: Hopkinton 2-0; Derryfield 0-1

Girls’ Soccer

Bishop Brady 11, Prospect Mountain 0

Key players: Bishop Brady – Sheridan Brummett (5G), Adrienne Brummett (4G), Lauren Beitler (G), Molly Levesque (G), Emily Senko (4 saves, A), Hannah Hicks (2A)

Highlights: The Giants won its second 11-0 game of the season behind the prolific offense of the Brummett sisters, who have combined for 20 of the team’s 22 goals this season.

Coach’s quote: “It was another good overall team game for us today. Our girls played well and turned in another complete performance. We have to keep working every day to get better and better for the rest of the season.” – Bishop Brady’s Andrew Mattarazzo

Records: Bishop Brady 2-0; Prospect Mountain 0-2

Pembroke 4, Pelham 0

Key players: Pembroke – Maddie Bailey (3G), Iso Gill (G), Jade Pescinski (A), Riley Kennedy and Brooke Davison (combined for shutout)

Highlights: The Spartans scored three goals in 20 minutes and Morgan Ranfos and Lindsey Hawkins anchored the defense, helping Pembroke earn its second straight shutout. The Spartans have outscored their opponents, 10-2, through three matches.

Coach’s quote: “Today was a full-team effort. I’m very pleased with the contributions each player made in our victory today. We are excited to get back to work next week.” – Pembroke’s Jess Kaufman

Records: Pembroke 3-0; Pelham 1-2

Bow 3, Oyster River 2, 2OT

Key players: Bow – Lindsey Burnham (G), Lindsey LaPerle (G), Kristina Pizzi (G), Madi Paul (A), Taylor Burnham (A)

Highlights: Lindsey Burnham hit a beautiful strike to the far side netting from about 20 yards our for the game-winner in the final minute of the second overtime. The Falcons took a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of the match, but the Bobcats clawed back to force overtime.

Coach’s quote: “The first 15 minutes of the game was our best soccer of the year so far. We let our guard down and Oyster River has a player (Charlotte Cousins) who is fast and can take people on and she made us pay twice. Hats off to Oyster River fighting back to tie the game. Something to learn from for sure, but love how the girls kept battling and found a way to win.” – Bow’s Jay Vogt

Records: Bow 3-0; Oyster River 0-2

Milford 3, Coe-Brown 2

Key players: Coe-Brown – Corinne Fernald (G), Izzy Myers (G), Lian Welch (A), Lauren Curtin (A), Mackenzie Quick (12 saves)

Highlights: Fernald scored 11 minutes into the second half and Myers tied the game in the 60th minute, erasing a 2-0 halftime deficit, but the Bears hit the post twice in the final 10 minutes and Milford scored the game-winning goal late in the match.

Coach’s quote: “We were eager to play and Milford is a strong, physical and talented team. We handled their direct attacks really well. I am extremely proud of the girls for regrouping at half and not getting down on themselves. This was a fun game against one of the elite teams in D-II.” – Coe-Brown’s Josh Hils

Records: Milford 2-0; Coe-Brown 0-1

John Stark 8, Manchester West 1

Key players: John Stark – Bella Roy (3G, 2A), Arden Ulmer (2G), Liz Downing (2G), Lahja Heino (G), Madison Porth (2A), Maddy Parker (A), Presley Gaberseck (A)

Highlights: With two out of three seniors and captains out of commission, the rest of the girls stepped up and made sure to lock in a decisive victory. Gaberseck, Makayla Couturier, Brooke Porth and Samantha Veilleux anchored the defense.

Coach’s quote: “I love the passion the girls have for the game and how they encourage each other. This is a really young team so their potential is huge.” – John Stark’s Chris Pike

Records: John Stark 2-0; Manchester West 0-3

Belmont 0, Somersworth 0

Key players: Belmont – Sana Syed (defense), Deanna Bourque (defense)

Highlights: The Raiders sent a penalty kick just wide with 18 minutes to go.

Coach’s quote: “We carried the play throughout the game. (Somersworth’s) goalie made some excellent saves on a couple of breakaways to keep the score at 0-0. I was very proud of the team effort.” – Belmont’s Mark Dawalga

Records: Belmont 1-0-1; Somersworth 0-1-1

Hopkinton 7, White Mountains 1

Key players: Hopkinton – Loren Charron (2G, A), Annie Higginbotham (2G), Lillie Presti (G), Emily Metzger (G), Emily Fleegle (4 saves), Eleanor Owen (defense)

Highlights: The Hawks gave up an own goal in the first half, but made minor formation adjustments and a found new sense of urgency in a second half dominated by Hopkinton.

Coach’s quote: “Much better second-half performance in terms of moving the ball quickly, but also disappointed that we did not get the shutout as our defense fell asleep on one play. Will need to play much better against the stronger teams in the division.” – Hopkinton’s Mike Zahn

Records: Hopkinton 2-0; White Mountains 2-1

Field Hockey

John Stark 2, Milford 1, OT

Key players: John Stark – Elizabeth Aubin (G, A), Aubrey Fischer (G), Sydney Pelletier (7 saves), Kacie Weston (A)

Highlights: Fischer, a freshman, scored her first career goal 1:30 into the game and Aubin scored 2:51 into overtime to lift the Generals to their first win of the season. Milford tied the game just over halfway through the first half. John Stark peppered the Spartans’ net in the second half and had eight corners, but couldn’t end the game in regulation.

Coach’s quote: “Exciting game with many opportunities for our girls. We just couldn’t finish it off in the second half, but Elizabeth came up big in OT. We have been trying to find ways to get her shot attempts and today’s configuration helped that out big time.” – John Stark’s Dennis Pelletier

Records: John Stark 1-1; Milford 0-2

ConVal 2, Kearsarge 1

Key players: Kearsarge – Beth McKelvy (G), Marissa Montagna (A), Kate Cochran (midfield), Hannah Tockman (defense)

Highlights: McKelvy scored within the first five minutes of the game, but ConVal tied the game before halftime and scored early in the second half. Kearsarge had a free hit inside its offensive 25-yard line with less than a minute to play with an opportunity to tie the game, but couldn’t finish.

Coach’s quote: “It was a hard-fought game by both teams and it highlighted some key areas for us to focus on moving forward.” – Kearsarge’s Chelsea Williams

Records: ConVal 1-1; Kearsarge 1-1

Plymouth 1, Bow 0, OT

Key players: Bow – Maddie Tibbetts (defense), Amelia Coe (defense), Maddie Soucy (16 saves), Elizabeth Guertin (midfield)

Highlights: Soucy had several spectacular saves behind a strong defensive line, but the Bobcats potted the game-winner in overtime.

Coach’s quote: “It was a well-matched game. The girls are satisfied with their effort as am I, but unfortunately Plymouth scored first in overtime.” – Bow’s Rebecca Cleary

Records: Plymouth 2-0; Bow 1-1

Derryfield 11, Pembroke 0

Key players: Pembroke – Sophia Brasley (15 saves), Rachel Clark (midfield)

Highlights: Lauren Lehoullier slowed down Derryfield’s top player, Lindsey Stagg, holding her to three goals, but the Spartans were outmatched by the Cougars.

Coach’s quote: “We knew this was going to be one of, if not the toughest, game for us this season. Stagg is an amazingly skilled player and she is surrounded by a strong team. Coming from a grass field, playing a turf team on their turf was a faster pace than what the girls were used to. We are looking to use today as a chance for improvement and our eyes are set now on our game next Tuesday.” – Pembroke’s Tess Patry

Records: Derryfield 2-0; Pembroke 0-2

Bishop Brady 8, Conant 2

Key players: Bishop Brady – Ashlyn Toupin (3G), Libbey Hicks (3G, 2A), Halle Laramie (G), Margaret Sheehan (G), Becca Murphy (A), Julie Blais (4 saves)

Highlights: The Giants scored early and often, taking a 4-0 halftime lead, en route to a decisive season-opening victory.

Coach’s quote: “The team had three objectives this afternoon – communication, attack together and defend together. They did just that. Overall team win. Contributions from all 17 girls.” – Bishop Brady’s Kelly Owen

Records: Bishop Brady 1-0; Conant 0-1

Hopkinton 5, White Mountains 1

Key players: Hopkinton – Julia Baer (3G), Avery Barrett (G, 2A), Lily Ogden (G), Caroline Barrett (defense)

Highlights: The Hawks got off to quick starts in both halves, with Barrett scoring 43 seconds into the game and Ogden scoring 32 seconds into the second half.

Coach’s quote: “It took us some time to get going, but once we did things started to fall into place. I think the girls were happy to get a win for the home opener.” – Hopkinton’s Kate Hohenberger

Records: Hopkinton 2-0; White Mountains 0-1

Newfound 9, Franklin 0

Key players: Franklin – Jasmyn Long (21 save), Jada Lapierre (defense), Emma Lapierre (defense), Elizabeth Guillotte (communication), Danyelle Hines (offense), Hannah Oltman (offense)

Highlights: The Golden Tornadoes started the game short-handed with only 10 players and played with only nine in the second half following an injury. Newfound scored in the first 10 minutes of the game and didn’t look back, despite strong passing and communication from Franklin’s players.

Coach’s quote: “The girls played great. They toughed it out until the end and as a coach that’s all you can really ask for. We played short in the second half because of an injury and the girls stayed positive and played all the way to the end.” – Franklin’s Shelby Joyce

Records: Newfound 1-0; Franklin 0-1

Girls’ Volleyball

Coe-Brown 3, ConVal 0

Key players: Coe-Brown – Jessie Davis (5 aces, 4 kills), Molly Ewing (6 kills), Kaitlyn Miller (28 assists, 4 aces)

Highlights: The Bears secured a decisive season-opening victory, 25-5, 25-13, 25-19.

Coach’s quote: “We had a goal to start our season strong and to control our side of the court. The team executed that well and together as one cohesive unit.” – Coe-Brown’s Renee Zobel

Records: Coe-Brown 1-0; Con Val 0-1


Plymouth 70, Gilford 60,
Kearsarge 46, Prospect Mountain 37

Key players: Plymouth – Marcus Morel (19 points); Gilford – Brady Reynolds (18 points)

Records: Plymouth 5-1; Gilford 5-1; Kearsarge 4-5; Prospect Mountain 0-6

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