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Former Sachems riding four abreast one last time to CHaD football game

  • Laconia football coach Craig Kozens (center) stands with recently graduated Sachems Ben Beliveau, Riley Roy (11), Bradley Weeks (6) and Drew Muzzey (24), who were all selected to play in the CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire. Kozens is coaching the Team East team for the fourth consecutive year and said of his former Laconia players, “selfishly, for me, it’s great to spend one more week with them.” All proceeds from the game, which has raised over $1.5 million in its first six years, go to support Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. RICH MIYARA/ NH Sports Photography

  • Laconia’s Riley Roy looks downfield during practice on Monday night for the CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game while his Team East and Laconia teammate Ben Beliveau (left) provides protection. Former Sachems Drew Muzzey and Bradley Weeks are also on Team East, which is coached by Laconia’s Craig Kozens. All proceeds from the game, scheduled to kickoff Saturday at 1 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire, go to support Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The game has raised $1.5 million in its first six years. Rich Miyara/ NH Sports Photography

  • Laconia linebacker Bradley Weeks practices for the CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game on Monday at Manchester West High School. Weeks is one of four recently-graduated Sachems who will be on Team East, which is coached by Laconia’s Craig Kozens. Running back Drew Muzzey, quarterback Riley Roy and lineman Ben Beliveau are the three other Sachems on the team, which will kickoff against Team West Saturday at 1 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire. All proceeds from the game, which has raised $1.5 million in its first six years, go to support Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Rich Miyara/ NH Sports Photography

  • Laconia’s Riley Roy gets ready to throw while Belmont-Gilford’s Ethan Ormes and Laconia’s Ben Beliveau provide protection during Monday’s CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game practice at Manchester West High School. Former Sachems Drew Muzzey and Bradley Weeks are also on Team East, which is coached by Laconia’s Craig Kozens. All proceeds from the game, which has raised $1.5 million in its first six years, go to support Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Rich Miyara/ NH Sports Photography



Monitor staff
Thursday, June 28, 2018

They’ve been playing football together since they were little kids. They were all senior captains for Laconia in the fall. On Saturday, Ben Beliveau, Drew Muzzey, Riley Roy and Bradley Weeks will play together one last time when they suit up for Team East in the CHaD NH East-West High School All-Star Football Game.

“They come four abreast everyday,” said Craig Kozens, the longtime Laconia coach who is also coaching Team East for a fourth year. “They drive together to practice, they’re the first ones here and the last ones to leave. They have a wide range of personalities, but they’ve grown up together, so they’re pretty tight. And selfishly, for me, it’s great to spend one more week with them.”

The four Sachems all agreed that getting on the gridiron as a group one last time is special. Playing for Kozens one more time is also a bonus, especially for Roy.

“That’s special to me just because when I was like 7 my dad (Rod Roy) was an assistant coach on the high school team and I would go in the locker room and be on the sideline during games and my brother (Nick) was on the team. So I’ve known (Kozens) forever,” Roy said. “He’s like a second father to me, so just being able to play one more game with him is awesome.”

The Laconia kids may not get to start the game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium, but they’re more valuable to Kozens coming off the bench.

Roy, a quarterback, already knows the offense Kozens is running, so Portsmouth’s Cody Graham, who will start on Saturday, can take most of the reps during the week of practice leading up to the game. Beliveau is expected to know every position on the offensive line so he can be plugged in as needed. Neither Muzzey nor Weeks are practicing at the offensive positions (tailback and fullback, respectively) they played last year at Laconia, but Kozens knows he can use either of them at those spots and they’ll be ready to go.

“They know the system, so they’re a great example of what to do,” Kozens said.

“If (Graham) has any questions I’m there to answer them, or just tell him good throw, or good rep, or this is your read on this play, or make sure you read that on this play, things like that,” Roy said. “But Cody is a really good athlete and a really good player, so he’s got it down pretty good.”

Roy, a three-year starter for the Sachems, completed 57 percent of his passes last season (75-for-132) for 1,104 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions and was named to the Division II North Second Team. He’s also an excellent lacrosse player (First Team D-III attack this year for runner-up Laconia), and was hoping to play both sports next year at Plymouth State, but he’s focusing on football.

Muzzey was also a First Team D-III lacrosse pick this spring (long-stick midfielder), and the Laconia salutatorian is planning on playing both football and lacrosse next year at Bowdoin College. Muzzey had 148 carries for 1,026 yards (6.9 average) and 10 touchdowns in the fall and was a First Team D-II North pick. He’ll be used in the slot and on the wing in the CHaD game, positions he spent time playing as a junior.

Muzzey didn’t start high school in Laconia – he went to New Hampton for his freshman year and a quarter of his sophomore year – but he’s glad he finished as a Sachem.

“I missed my friends. I missed playing with the kids I’ve been playing with since first and second grade,” Muzzey said. “I think I’ve had just as many opportunities at Laconia. I’ve had practically the same academic experience and it’s been nice to be home and playing for my hometown.”

The only Sachem in the class of 2018 with a higher grade-point average than Muzzey was Beliveau, the valedictorian and a 2017 First Team D-II North selection as an offensive lineman. Next year Beliveau will be taking his brain power to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he’ll major in either environmental or civic engineering and play football.

“Benny is just an amazing human being. He’s great at everything he does,” Kozens said. “He’s a quiet, unassuming kid that just takes everything in like a sponge, whether it’s academically or athletically. And then he just works, whether it’s in the weight room or in the class room. We kid around and like to say he’s like a robot because once it’s programmed in, he just executes whatever he needs to do.”

Weeks, a linebacker, led Laconia with 82 tackles in 2017 and was a First Team D-II North pick. He can fill in at fullback as needed, but he’ll be used mostly on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.

“Bradley is extremely athletic and he’s got an amazing motor. He does everything at 100 percent,” Kozens said. “One of the coaches on my staff paid him the greatest compliment, he said he coaches to be around kids like him, that he’s the kind of kid that makes practices fun because he will do whatever you tell him the first time and he’ll do it 100 percent every time.”

Weeks is the only of the four not playing in college (he’s going to be an apprentice electrician), so getting a final chance to crack some pads is extra meaningful to him.

“One last chance to play your heart out,” he said.

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