New Hampshire Football Report

Yukica Profile: Riley Desmarais

NOTE: The 2020 Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation Scholar/Athlete banquet was cancelled this year because of COVID-19. Each Scholar/Athlete will be recognized with a commemorative program, a plaque and a personal profile that will appear in the program, on the New Hampshire Football Report, the Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter web site ( and the Joe Yukica/New Hampshire Chapter Facebook page. This is one in a series of 39 profiles. Once published, each profile can be accessed by clicking on the athlete’s name at the bottom of the page.

Windham High School

If you’re looking for a team leader, you can stop the search when you come to Riley Desmarias.

Not only was Desmarais one of four captains on the Windham High School football team last fall, he was also the lone captain for Windham’s varsity basketball team in his junior and senior seasons. He was Windham’s starting point guard since his sophomore year.

“Riley is the kid you would want if you were playing horseshoes or cornhole or something like that — he’s a winner,” Windham coach Jack Byrne said. “He’s good at everything. There’s always that guy.”

Desmarais, who also played varsity lacrosse, was used primarily as a running back and linebacker during the 2019 football season. He is one of three Windham players selected to play in the CHaD New Hampshire East/West All-Star Game.

“He was a real versatile guy who could do a lot of different things,” Byrne said. “For a play or two we could switch his position, or give him some random job that was totally different than what a normal linebacker would do.

“Special teams-wise he was our unofficial punter, because we did all quick-kick punts and stuff like that. He was just super athletic. I don’t think he came off the field very much.”

Academically, Desmarias is a member of the National Honor Society and the Math Honor Society. His well-rounded resume made him an obvious choice to receive the 2020 Scholar/Athlete Award from the Joe Yukica New Hampshire Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

“If you called him and said in 20 minutes I have a couple kids coming to my class who could use you — they need a friend — he’s the guy who would show up,” Byrne said. “He’d figure it out. He’d sit with people at lunch and do all the right things.”

Byrne said Windham’s first touchdown of the 2019 season typified the kind of competitor Desmarais is. Bedford was having its way with the Jaguars and had a 17-0 lead when Desmarais scored on a 59-yard run with 13.4 seconds remaining in the first half. It ended up being one of the few highlights in that game for the Jaguars, who ended up losing 41-7.

“That day was definitely all Bedford,” Byrne said. “We could have just quit, but Riley didn’t do that. Riley gave a punch back to a good team that let our guys know we’re gonna be fine. It was just gonna take us a couple extra weeks to get off the ground.

“He’s always going to go all-out, whether you’re winning by 20 or down by 20. He’s consistent and sets a good example.”

Q and A with Riley Desmarais

Q: Please describe the most memorable moment of your high school football career. 

A: My most memorable moment of high school football is without a doubt the senior year Blackout Game. The Blackout Game is always one of the most fun games of the year, being able to play under the lights in front of a crowd that can’t be matched. This game was particularly special because it was the last Blackout Game I would ever play in. There were a lot of emotions going into the game, but my excitement couldn’t be any higher. The end of the game was no different. Winning in the last couple of seconds on a touchdown run with about two fumbles — I don’t think there could be a better way to finish off my last Blackout Game.

Q: Tell us about someone who has had a significant influence on your life.

A: One of the most important people in my football life has been my dad. We’ve always bonded over football, and growing up that’s how we often connected. He’s been my flag football coach, my youth football coach, and been working the sidelines in my high school career. He’s shown me what hard work and determination can get you in life, and continues to give me advice as I become an adult.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school and why?

A: My favorite subject in school is math and physics. I like math because there is always an answer to a problem without much argument for another. I like physics because it applies math to the everyday world, and there are different ways to use math to solve problems.

Q: What life lessons have you learned from football? 

A: I think the most important life lesson I’ve learned from football is teamwork. Football has taught me how to work with others and trust one another to execute plays. Without teamwork, there would be no communication between teammates, and the team would fail. Teamwork is essential for any group of people to be successful doing a task, and I believe football has shown me how to lead that group of people.

Q: What is your dream job?

A: My dream job is somewhere I can pursue my ideas and lead a group of co-workers. I am majoring in mechanical engineering in college, and hope to become a mechanical engineer. The way things work has always interested me, and I want to be able to solve problems my own way when I am older. I also want to be able to lead others and provide an environment for them to grow.


2020 Scholar/Athletes: Keith Albergo (Winnacunnet), Thatcher Allen (Exeter), Cole Ames (Lebanon)Mason Belsky (Windham), Patrick Brust (Bishop Brady)Jaedon Cliche (Exeter), Riley Desmarais (Windham), Bobby DiCicco (Windham), Jared Dyer (Merrimack), Casey Gladu (Portsmouth)Owen Gormley (Salem), Jack Grogan (Bedford), Steven Guerette (Bow)Evan Haskins (Pelham), Samson Hodges (Milford), Ethan Holt (Bishop Guertin), Jack Jones (Bedford)Charlie Kneissl-Williams (Bedford)Hunter Lassard (St. Thomas), Joseph Lupo (Bishop Guertin), Jake MacInnis (Pinkerton)Braden McDonnell (Nashua South)Will MacLean (St. Thomas), Hayden Moses (Bishop Guertin)Riley Mulvey (Salem)Kyle O’Connor (Nashua South), Nolan Pafford (Portsmouth), Wade Rainey (Lebanon)Ismael Rivera (Bishop Brady)Oceanne Skoog (Newfound), Caleb Smith (Lebanon)Rolando Sylvain-Stott (Newfound), John Thibault (Trinity), Zach Twardosky (Merrimack), Gavin Urda (Milford), Carter Vedrani (Campbell), Jacob Wenger (Trinity), Jon Willeman (Lebanon) and Devin Wood (Merrimack).

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