New Hampshire Football Report

CHaD teams need defensive posture

If you’re trying to figure out which team is most likely to win Satuday’s CHaD East-West All-Star Game, then look to the defensive side of the ball. Strong defense had been a common thread among the teams that have won the previous six games. Take a look:

2012: West 44, East 12

The West forced five turnovers and recorded a safety in the inaugural game. Nashua South’s Johnny Bieren recorded three sacks, and Merrimack’s Jackson King returned an interception 19 yards for a TD. East running backs Jerickson Fedrick (Salem), Kevin Davies (Pinkerton) and Emmitt Smith (Pinkerton) rushed for 4,649 and scored 57 TDs as seniors, but that trio was held to 99 yards on 23 carries in the loss.

2013: West 13, East 7

Although he suited up for the losing team, West defensive tackle Ricky Holt (Portsmouth) was named the game’s MVP. Holt recorded 8.5 tackles (one sack) and blocked what would have been a game-winning field goal in the overtime loss. The West averaged 3.6 yards per play, and the East 3.5.

2014: West 24, East 7

The West limited the East to 131 yards of offense and came up with four interceptions. The East had zero yards and zero first downs in the opening quarter, when the West built a 12-0 lead.

2015: East 29, West 15

East linebacker Jason Hansen (Pinkerton) recorded a game-high 10 tackles to help the East earn its first victory.

2016: East 28, West 14

The East seized the momentum early when defensive back Brian Auffant (Winnacunnet) returned an interception 58 yards for a TD to open the scoring.

2017: West 25, East 14

The West pulled away by intercepting two passes in the third quarter. Souhegan’s Tucker Aiello returned one of the INTs 17 yards for a TD.

“The offense is always behind the defense in a game like this,” said Laconia coach Craig Kozens, who is coaching the East for the fourth straight year. “The timing of the offense takes a while to get there. (Defensive coordinator) Kevin Hebert (Spaulding) has done a wonderful job with our defense in the past. That’s what kept us in the game last year.

“We know they’re the favorite. We know they have many weapons. They have two Gatorade Players of the Year (Goffstown’s Andrew Duval and Plymouth’s Garrett Macomber) and two guys going to UNH (Duval and Merrimack’s Joe Eichman). Duval and Eichman are two great players. I’m worried about big plays. They have big-play players.”

Saturday’s game, which features some of the top New Hampshire high school players from the Class of 2018, will be played at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium (1 p.m. kickoff). General admission tickets are $10 and $20 and are available at www.chadallstartfootball.org until 4 p.m. Friday. Tickets may also be purchased at the gate Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. Proceeds will benefit Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD).

Concord coach Eric Brown, the West’s head coach, said after a slow start he gained confidence in his defense this week.

 “We’ve shown steady improvement every day,” Brown said. “I can’t really pinpoint one area on our defense that’s stronger than the others, but our defensive leaders so far have been our safeties — Farina (Plymouth’s Nolan Farina and Duval). Those are the guys making all the calls.”

Containing Salem running back Josh Sibanda may be at the top of the to-do list for the West defense. Sibanda ran for 1,269 yards and scored 14 touchdowns last season despite missing significant time with a leg injury. Pinkerton running back Ty Hicks will also give the East big-play ability out of the backfield.

“Sibanda is the real deal,” Kozens said. “I wasn’t involved (as a coach) the first year of this game, but since then he’s the best back the East has had.”

Portsmouth’s Cody Graham is expected to take most of the snaps for the East. Brown said the West will use both Bedford’s Connor Robert and Nashua South’s Sean Holland at quarterback.

“It doesn’t matter who starts (at any position) in my opinion,” Brown said. “We have 41 starters on the team. We’re going to play everybody.”

East Roster
West Roster

 

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