Cam Robidoux gets a key block from Bill Helliwell.
It was raining and very warm out last Saturday afternoon over at Harris Track and Field in Pelham, but there were 26 Pelham Python football players who had fire in their eyes as they took the field for their Division V semi-final against the 6-3 Kearsarge Cougars. Kearsarge lost 26-20 in an early season game here back about a month ago, and they left town thinking that they should have beaten the Pythons and ended their unbeaten streak back then. That didn’t sit well with Pelham seniors Bruce Vieira, Bill Helliwell, Wayne Parisi, and Dave Wesson, and they went out and showed it in their play on the gridiron. The Pythons had finished their second straight Division V season with a perfect 9-0 record, and have won 20 games in a row in the last two years.
Coach Tommy Babaian’s Pythons didn’t waste any time letting people know that this was going to be a hard-hitting game, saying, “We have to come out on fire and not kill ourselves with stupid mistakes and needless penalties. If we can do that, I think we’ll be okay against Kearsarge.” His players obviously listened to him. But the first quarter went scoreless until his defense backed the Cougars deep in their own territory to start the second quarter. Kearsarge was forced to punt, and I think their punter caught a quick glimpse out of the corner of his eye of Pelham’s Dave Wesson racing in from the side trying to block his fourth punt of the season, and the ball went off the side of his foot. It looked like it was going to be downed on Kearsarge’s 32-yard line, but the ever-opportunistic Bruce Vieira picked up the ball and started down the sidelines and got a bone-crushing block from Corey Peterson, who wiped out two Cougar defenders, and Vieira turned it into the middle of the field and pranced untouched the rest of the way into the endzone for the touchdown. Wayne Parisi hammered his first of four extra points in this game, and with 10:47 still left in the first half, Pelham had the 7-0 lead. That was it for scoring in the first half, but Vieira and teammates Conor McColgan, Bill Helliwell, Mike Lombard, Corey Peterson, and Dave Wesson were packing some serious punches of defense.
Babaian and his coaching staff got together at halftime to make a few minor adjustments as they have successfully done over the past two years, and the Pythons didn’t take too long to let the fans know what was on their mind. Receiving the second half kickoff, Kearsarge decided to kick it away from the ever-dangerous Bruce Vieira, so they kicked it to junior back Cam Robidoux, who fielded it at his own 25-yard line, and it seemed as if he was shot out of a cannon as he sizzled 75 yards right up the middle of the field for the touchdown. Parisi nailed his second extra point kick of the game, and with 11:49 left in the third quarter, the Pythons had stretched their lead to 14-0. The only thing that had given the Cougars any kind of offense in the first half was a couple of counter plays run by Ryan Jenkins, but the Python defense snuffed them out in the second half. Cougar quarterback Jack Morgan decided that the short pass might be a new way to get his team back into the game, but Corey Peterson, Wayne Parisi, Bill Helliwell, Andy Keegan, and Peter Chanelle had other ideas as they combined to stop the Cougars on a fourth and one situation around midfield. Pelham junior signal caller Joe DeAngelo would pounce on this opportunity a few plays later as he dropped back and fired a perfect strike to a streaking Josh Luciano for a 40-yard touchdown pass. Parisi’s third extra point made it a 21-0 game with 4:43 left in the third period. Pelham did make two costly penalties at the end of the third quarter, as a facemask penalty and a questionable pass interference call gave Kearsarge a first down at the Pythons 17-yard line. This led to the Cougars only score of the game, as Jack Morgan hit Doug Gregory with a 15-yard touchdown pass with 2:42 left in the third frame to cut the lead to 21-6, but they wouldn’t get any closer, as Joe DeAngelo picked off a Morgan pass at the Python 20-yard line to kill another potential drive.
Pelham’s offensive line carved holes in the Cougar line in the last quarter as Vieira ripped off several big gainers and topped off the scoring drive with a two-yard plunge with 4:15 left in the game for the 28-6 final after Parisi’s last extra point. The Pelham coach congratulated his players as they lined up to shake hands with the Cougars, but Helliwell, Vieira, Wesson, and Wayne Parisi were already talking about and thinking about St. Thomas, who had just beaten Trinity 21-15 in the other semi-final game at Gill Stadium. These Pelham kids beat the Saints three weeks ago 17-3 up in Dover when Andy Keegan intercepted a Saints pass late in the fourth quarter, and Joe DeAngelo and Bruce Vieira scored touchdowns in the last four minutes for that win, but that was yesterday. Wayne Parisi only had to punt three times in the game for the Pythons, but his boots constantly put the Cougars deep in their own end, including his last one that went for 47-yards to their 14-yard line. Bruce Vieira picked up 102 yards on his 24 carries on the day and tallied two more touchdowns to move in on the Merrimack Valley area leaders.
Pelham’s coach Babaian had a lot of praise for his kids after the game, saying, “We got a great game from our special teams and that’s always big when you’re in the playoffs. Cam really got us going on that second half kickoff when he went north to south and took it to the house. I hope my kids enjoy the win tonight, because after tomorrow all that we will be thinking about is Saint Thomas. We had a very tough game with them up in Dover, and it’s probably going to be another tough battle this coming Saturday, but I think my kids are equal to the task.”
Bruce Vieira upended at the goal line to setup a touchdown play.
You might say that Pelham football coach Tom Babaian will be in a “Catch-22” position this Saturday November 22 as they’ll prepare to not only beat St. Thomas of Dover for their second straight Division V championship in as many years, but to extend their unbeaten streak to 22 wins in a row over the past two years. I know that coach Babaian and his assistant coaches don’t look at newspapers to see what outsiders have to say about their Python football team (except my articles of course), but this week the Tuesday Manchester Union-Leader had the Union Leader-WGAM-WMUR High School Football Power Poll with the Pelham Pythons breaking into the Top Ten in the standings for the first time this fall.
The weather was rainy last Saturday afternoon and affected the big crowd, but this Saturday it’s supposed to be sunny and dry and in the mid 40s, a beautiful afternoon for football. Pelham seniors Bruce Vieira, Bill Helliwell, Dave Wesson, Wayne Parisi, Andy Keegan, Ryan Zannone, and Joe Morin will all be playing in their last ever high school football game and there’s feeling around here that these kids and their younger teammates are going to come out on fire for the St. Thomas game. Pelham played St. Thomas a month ago up in Dover and the Pythons could only get a 35-yard field goal from Wayne Parisi in the first three quarters, but Andy Keegan turned this game around with a clutch interception with just over four minutes left. Quarterback Joe DeAngelo ran it in for the score two plays later to put Pelham ahead, and Cam Robidoux’s fumble recovery set up Bruce Vieira’s last minute touchdown for the 17-3 final. St. Thomas coach Rod Wooton is not only one of the most respected coaches in New Hampshire, but he’s also the winningest football coach in New England with about 345 wins in New Hampshire and Maine. Coach Tom Babaian knows what it takes to win a state title and says, “I like the way our kids are focused right now, and we’re looking forward to a real good week of practice and then fine tune things on Friday so we’ll be at the top of our game for Saturday afternoon.”
Let’s also hope we can get over 1,000 people to the Harris Track and Field in Pelham Saturday and let’s try and get down there by about noon time so that we can get a good parking spot and can make our sandwiches and have a good old fashion “Tailgate Party” before the Division V Super Bowl starts. There would be nothing better than to see Bruce Vieira finish up his high school career with three touchdowns and a Division V championship, and I’d also like to see linebacker Warren Greenhalgh come up with another couple of sacks down by the goal line like he did against the Saints up in Dover the last time, to keep them out of the end zone, and that was the sophomores first varsity start. Gatesy’s Prediction … Pelham 24 St. Thomas 17! See you all there!
Windham Soccer Association Girls U14 Wins GYSL Division 1 Championship and NH State Championship team, Back row: Coach L. Putnam, L. Sprankling, R. Sullivan, A. Hulshult, B. Angelani, G. Grimes, D. Summers, B. Conners, M. Cole, Coach Chris Scott. Front row: J. Barbaro, C. Walsh, K. Schiebel, A. Schiebel, C. Putnam, S. McQuaid, G. Corman.
The U14 girls of the Windham Soccer Association (WSA) just pulled off an amazing finish to the fall season. First, they won the Granite Youth State League Division 1 Championship with a 2-1 finish against Seacoast United Soccer. This kind of victory has not happened for the WSA girls since 2006. The WSA U14 Girls owe their success of a year to the exceptional head coach from Challenger Sports Chris Scott. With out his hard work and dedication to these girls, none of this would have been possible. He is by far one of the most committed coaches I have ever come across, who truly cares for each and every girl on that team. He not only brought out the best of them on the field but also off the field as individuals. Chris truly went above and beyond the parameter of what coaching is all about; constantly shifting things and working new angles to achieve the highest level of play they were capable of. WSA owes him a big thank you for all the hard work and effort he put forth. He spent his free time working with the girls at the Middle school soccer team because of his great love to coach and desire to watch the girl’s progress in their skills.
These two teams had previously played at the start of the season and tied 1-1, so this match was going to be close. Seacoast United started the game very well and enjoyed the large majority of the possession, however, Windham had goalkeeper Gina Grimes to thank for some very brave saves. As the first half went on, Windham turned it up a notch and begin to string some nice passes together and had several scoring opportunities. Just before the halftime whistle, Gina made a great save which then lead to a Windham counter attack. Great plays on the right side by Kelsey Schiebel lead to crossing the ball to Bernadette Connors for a header as the opening goal.
In the second half Windham started they way they finished the fist half and controlled more of the play. Seacoast had to come looking for an equalizer, however, some great defending kept Seacoast at bay. With ten minutes remaining, lively striker Courtney Walsh took control of the ball about 30 yards from the Seacoast goal and hit a screamer that flew over the Seacoast goalkeeper and into the net. Seacoast did not give up and with six minutes remaining gave themselves some hope. A free kick floated in the Windham 18-yard area and one of the Seacoast players connected with the ball and sent it into the Windham goal. Nonetheless, Windham managed to hold out for the last few minutes and claim the GYSL Division 1 championship.
One week later WSA U14 Girls were able to capture the State Championship title with a 2-0 win against Premier division Granite FC. Going into the match, both teams had played in different leagues. Windham was in GYSL Division 1, and Granite FC in the Premier division of Granite State. The match started at a great pace with Windham starting off strongest. Windham’s main downfall early on was failing to avoid the offside trap being used by Granite FC. However, Windham then went on to create chance after chance with Courtney Walsh and Darion Summers coming close on numerous occasions. Coming up to halftime the game remained 0-0, even though both teams had created scoring chances. At the start of the second half, Windham went looking for the opening goal. Windham’s Brianna Angelini did well to run onto a through-ball, which was initially saved by the Granite FC goalkeeper. However Darion Summers was there to fire home the rebound, sending the Windham players wild!
With plenty of time remaining, 1-0 wasn’t going to be enough. Windham had goalkeeper Gina Grimes to thank for her commanding presence in dealing with any shot Granite FC had on her. Granite FC tried to come back and score an equalizer; however, their hopes were dashed when Darion Summers took control of the ball just outside of the 18-yard area, and hit a low shot which ended up in the back of the Granite FC goal. The clinching goal topped off an awesome performance by the Windham team, which held on to win the game 2-0. The win was a perfect end to a great season for Windham in the 2008 Fall Season. It should also be noted that 10 of the WSA Girls U14 team also played on the Windham Middle School team, which also managed to win the Middle School Championship.
The faithful Razorback fans were rewarded with another spectacular win this past Sunday at Muldoon Park, the home field for the Razorback organization. What a year for the 2008 Jr. Midgets! They had an undefeated regular season(8-0) and went into the semi-finals two weeks ago meeting up with the Nashua Elks, defeating them, and earning a number one seed in the state championship game. Their win against the Hudson-Litchfield Bears qualifies them to got to the New England Regionals at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island on November 22.
The boys have practiced and played hard since August 1 and their efforts have been rewarded with this much deserved championship title. They are a group of young men from Pelham and Windham, who have a dedication to the sport of football. Led by head coach Brian McClarny, the Razorbacks are to be commended for their accomplishments this year. Good luck at Regionals!
Team members include: Muhannad Bagegni, Michael Bernabei, Joey Brown, Michael Coupal, David Chrichton, Kevin DeAngelo, Matt Fauvel, Nick Fisette, Clint Fontanella, Alexander Glaeser, Tommy Gleason, Sam Hastings, Tyler Kosik, Joey Lorenz, Kurtis McLarney, Leo Moro, Mike Overy, Constantinose Papadimolious, Ben Petron, Corey Riordan, Brian Fenn, Connor Golden, Damian Cadorete, Jake Vaiknoras and Matte Cahoon.
You couldn’t get anywhere near Muldoon Park in Pelham last Sunday, as the football championship games were played there and the Pelham/Windham Razorbacks were able to take two of the four state titles that were up for grabs. The Razorback Jr. Pee Wee’s won their opener over Hudson 7-0 to start off the day, and the Jr. Midgets were also to shutout Hudson 24-0, before the Razorback Midgets lost a tough 20-14 game right down to the wire.
The Razorback Midgets had just beaten the Seacoast Titans three weeks ago in the regular season when both teams entered the game with identical 6-0 records as the Razorbacks took that one, but Sunday’s packed house saw a very close game with a lot of defense in the first half. Pelham’s Evan Sage saves the Razorback Midgets early in the game when they were backed up at their own five-yard line and fumbled the ball. There were four blue shirts all over the ball, but little Evan came out of the bottom of the pile with the ball to save Pelham. Sage would later run down a Titans receiver in the second period to prevent a score, but the most amazing play happened late in the first half, and had just about every football fan there scratching their head. The Titan quarterback went back to pass at his own 45-yard line and was corralled by two Razorback defenders and spun around. As he spun around, the ball came loose and Sage picked it up to run it in for a touchdown. After a long conference between the referee and his other officials, it was ruled as an incomplete pass and the ball was moved back to the original line of scrimmage. Now Razorback coaches Kevin Jean and Dean Joyce were out on the field trying to get some king of ruling while assistant coach Dave Lamont was simply beside himself, and ALMOST speechless, but the ball was giving back to the Seacoast Titans. At the end of the half, the Seacoast quarterback was able to loft a long pass down the sidelines that was caught and turned into a 35-yard touchdown pass. The two-point kick was good and the Titans held an 8-0 lead over the Razorbacks at the half. Pelham’s only scoring threat in the first half was a nifty 30-yard pass from Dean Joyce to Kevin Cheam but the Razorbacks also had a dropped pass and fumbled the ball back to the Titans.
The visitors caught another long pass at the start of the third period, and then got an 11-yard touchdown run to now lead 14-0, but the Razorback kids would start their comeback. Joey Perrone and James Beaulieu would come up with big runs, and Dean Joyce would then connect for a 25-yard pass play to Cheam at the Titans two-yard line, before Joyce ran it in for the touchdown that made it a 14-6 game. The Razorbacks were also using Ryan Saraida in at nose tackle to stop the Titans from running up the middle. Devin Decarteret and Zach Rainha were doing super jobs at the linebacker spot, and the Titans fumbled around midfield with the Razorbacks recovering it. Joey Perrone took off for a 25-yard run and Frankie Santangelo caught a short pass, but Evan Sage came through again as he swept around the left end for a seven-yard touchdown run. Perrone then calmly booted the two-point kick, and this game was tied 14-14 with about eight minutes left in the game. C. J. Alberito was also all over the field for the Razorback defense, but the Titans were able to catch a few breaks with penalties and had their quarterback sneak in from three yards out for the winning touchdown with just three minutes left in the game. Congratulations are in order to all Razorback players and coaches for having another tremendous season, and good luck to the Jr. Pee Wee’s and Jr. Midget’s as they get ready for their New England Tournament.
Colts 24, Raiders 0: The Colts came firing on all cylinders, with Cody Stevens scoring twice and intercepting a pass and Tommy Emerick chipping in another score to lead the Colts to the 6-8 A Championship. The Raiders had a great season and were led by a total team effort.
Ravens 26, Browns 24: Jacob Yirrell provided the scoring punch and Evan Haskins came up big defensively to help the Ravens capture the 6-8 B Title. The Browns were led by the gritty running of Tyler Brierre and the strong defense of Evan Larson.
49ers 24, Browns 21: Steven Jackson ran for an early score and Brandon Payzant picked off a deflected pass and returned it for a score late in the game to lead the unbeaten niners over the Browns and capture the 9-11 A Division Championship. The Browns played a great team game and got scores from Joey Porazinski and Kenny Arsenault.
Saints 36, Bengals 14: The Saints saved their best football for the playoffs, getting strong play from Jake Miller and Cam Lodge to help them over the Bengals and win the 9-11 B Division Title. The Bengals played tough, with Cody Stevens hauling in a TD reception and Jake Kelley taking an interception the other way for a score.
Steelers 20, Bengals 8
Brian Razzetti picked off a pass and returned it to the 2 yard line and Ryan Rheault took it in from there to lead the Steelers over the Bengals in the 12-15 Division. The Bengals played a strong game and were led by a total team effort.
49ers’ Steven Jackson, 10, cutting back against the Browns in the 9-11 A Division Superbowl
New England Gymnastics Training Center of Hudson Level 4 competed at the Turkey Shoot Invite in Bow on Sunday. The Level 4 team girls brought home the first place team trophy with a score of 176.950. The Level 5 and 6 team girls competed in Middleton, MA at the Yellow Jacket Holiday Invite. Level 5 Team girls brought home the first place team trophy with a score of 108.22. Level 6 team girls came in fifth place with a score of 107.275. Many of the gymnasts took home personal medals and trophies out of the 13 teams and over 175 gymnasts that attended these meets. NEGTC coaches, family and friends are very proud of all the gymnasts. The girls scored as follows:
Level 4, Turkey Shoot. 6-8 age division
Cloverlyn Willis, Pelham, placed third with an all around score of 34.550. She received an 8.7 on vault (sixth place), 9.3 on bars (first place), 8.55 on beam (third place), 8.0 on floor (third place).
Level 4, Turkey Shoot, 9-10 age division
Dakota Cummings, Pelham, placed third with an all around score of 35.350. She received a 9.4 on vault (second place), 9.55 on bars (first place), 8.2 on beam (third place), 8.2 on floor (fourth place).
Level 6, Yellow Jacket Invite- Senior
Ali Otis, Windham, placed first with an all around score of 35.150. She received a 9.35 on vault (first place), 8.4 on bars (second place tie), 8.55 on beam (eighth place tie), 8.85 on floor (second place).
The Lowell Devils saw their winless streak stretch to seven games (0-5-1-1) as they were defeated in the shootout by the Albany River Rats, 3-2, on Saturday at the Tsongas Arena. River Rats goalie Justin Peters denied Patrick Davis in the bottom half of round five to secure his first win of the season and also give Albany its first victory in five games.
Tied 1-1 after the first period, the Devils would gather their first lead of the game on Trevor Kell’s first goal of the season. As Rod Pelley pushed toward the net and tried to kick the puck to his own stick, the carom instead went to a wide-open Kell, who quickly dumped it past a diving Peters with 46.6 seconds until the intermission.
Albany owned a 29-13 shot advantage through the last two periods of regulation and would tie the score 2-2 at 2:26 of third period off the stick of Joe Jensen. Bryan Rodney fed a perfect pass to the blueline that got Jensen behind the Devils’ defense and he finished it off with a wrist shot inside the far post.
Lowell had opportunities to put away Albany on a power play late in the game that extended into over time and also on a penalty shot for rookie Brad Snetsinger. The left-winger skated down the right wing and beat Peters to the blocker side, but rang the shot off the post.
The River Rats’ Jerome Samson opened up the scoring 11:36 into the first period batting his own rebound into the back of the net. John DiSalvatore helped the Devils respond 1:33 later during a 5-on-3 power play by rocketing a one-timer into the top right corner of the net.
Frazee made 41 saves through overtime in his third career start. The Devils were 1-for-6 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
In the shootout, Dwight Helminen, Jakub Petruzalek and Michael Ryan scored for Albany, while Lowell’s Eric Castonguay and Ryan Murphy converted through four rounds. Frazee made a pad save on Dan LaCouture’s tuck shot to give the Devils a chance to extend the shootout, but Peters got a pad on Davis’ backhand attempt to end the contest.
Lowell travels to face the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday, November 21 at 7:00p.m and returns home for a two-game set against the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday, November 22 at 1:30p.m and the Springfield Falcons on Sunday, November 23 at 4:00p.m. Listen to all of the action live on 980AM-WCAP and ahllive.com as Ryan Johnston brings you all the play-by-play. Individual tickets are on sale now for the 2008-09 season. Contact the Devils at (978) 458-PUCK (7825) for more information or log on to www.lowelldevilshockey.com.
Briana Szidat with mother Sharon, Principal Dr. Dorothy Mohr, Athlectic Director Timmy Powers, and Father Ed.
Yes, there were definitely some tears of joy shed last Monday afternoon as Pelham’s 6-foot-3-inch All-State center Briana Szidat signed a letter of intend to play basketball for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks starting in the fall of 2009. Szidat was joined at the signing table with her father Ed and her mother Sharon, while Pelham Principal Dr. Dorothy Mohr and Pelham Athletic Director Timmy Powers also looked on approvingly. Szidat only has about 140 points to go this season before she becomes only the second Python girl to have hit the 1,000 points scored book, and that should probably be somewhere over the Christmas Tournament.
Also coming to Pelham High School for Briana’s signing was her AAU basketball coach Ricky Oliver. Oliver spoke highly of Szidat and said she was one of the main reasons why the Northeastern Lady Panthers not only went to the Nationals last summer, but finished ninth in the nation at that big tournament. Coach Oliver also knows UMass-Lowell’s girls basketball coach Cathy O’Neal and thinks that Szidat should have a great career there if she continues to work as hard as she did last summer when she played over 120 games during the summer for the Northeastern Last Panthers. Szidat was approached by other colleges and got a lot of interest from Winthrop College down in South Carolina. Briana Szidat was very excited about her signing her letter of intent to enter UMass-Lowell, but she said she has some unfinished business. Szidat told those attending the signing, “I’m going to keep working hard as coach Oliver said, and I want to get my 1,000 points scored out of the way, so that we at Pelham can have a very successful season under coach Powers.”
11-0 Pythons Win State Title over Gilford - 2007 State Division V Football Champions
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