Villains, End of Year Banquet Somewhat Bitter Sweet

January 12, 2018


by Len Lathrop

The State Champion Campbell Cougars football team aka “Villains” finished with an undefeated season and a Division 3 NHIAA title by defeating Monadnock, who also had an undefeated regular season, in the tournament at the University of New Hampshire, the final was 12 to 8 Cougars. These celebrations generally are a place to talk about the season and say goodbye to the team senior members and establish and reward some team members who add to their squad in an exceptional manner, this year the Cougar family had to also say goodbye to head Coach Greg Gush, who, after piloting the Cougars for five years, which included two state titles, has stepped down due to a commitment to a new job and his family.

A story about this great event would be incomplete without a mention of the food, remember this is a high school football team, the event was at the Puritan Backroom, so for those of you who know they are famous for their chicken fingers, thus the first item was their chicken fingers, now add to that French fries and follow that with pizza, forgot the green salad, maybe for the parents, a great menu and Coach Gush mentioned that if you feed them first (the players) will be ready for the important part of the program.

After some brief remarks and thank you’s, Coach Gush mentioning that it was a historical year, a very good year, but it took a lot of hard work, let’s celebrate the good! Then Gush started listing the people that helped behind the scenes to make Campbell successful. From the school administration and athletic department, Jarod Mills, Dawn Miler and Chip Cloutier, the sports trainer. Then he thanked Dennis Miller who leads the Breakfast Club, now in his 10th year of service, the gridiron gang who get the field ready for home game, the end zone camera work of Jordyn Gora, the Team Mom Tina Yanuszweski, the picture crew of Mary Boucher, Leo Carten, and Kim Gush. And the Facebook and Instagram work of Mrs. Gush and Tina Yanuszweski for today’s banquet.

Gush recognized the coaching staff with a multitude of platitudes, saying his biggest resource was his staff, a cut above the rest, they moved from the X’s and O’s to helping every young man become a good citizens. He presenting each coach with a Campbell pullover with the Campbell Cougar logo on the front and the State Champ words and dates on the back, and of course, they were red and black.

Before he transitioned to the player award he took a moment to thank the fans for their support through the season mentioning how Litchfield had a biggest fan representation at the UNH game.

While football is a team sport and the “villains” showed that to everyone during this undefeated seasons, there are players who rise above and the different divisional coaches were called on to present awards to outstanding players in the discipline they directed. First was Coach Cohen, who directs the offense, first mentioned that the Cougars scored across the season 536 on offense and only allowed 46 by the defense and then there were the three-headed monsters Keagan Mills, Nick Boucher, and Ryan Yanuszweski. Ryan Yanuszweski was awarded the Outstanding Offenses Player.

On the defensive side of the line, Coach Costello spoke about the award and how “he hated having to pass it out – then he thanked the parents for all their support, thanking his wife for her support, motioning to their table and identifying her as the very pregnant one, a great Litchfield supporter who even got into a fight at the Monadnock game. He described this year’s award winner as a leader on defense, a student who knows the game and could coach in his absence. Carter Vedrani is the 2017 award winner.

Coach Miller, who describes himself as an Old World coach working, while he did not totally agree with the plan to do onside kicks versus the deep traditional way and not to punt but go for it on fourth down. He found someone who could kick either long or onside and what can he say, they are state champions. Chad Martel was that kicker and this season’s Special Team Player of the Year.

Academic All-Star was awarded by Coach Orlando, who spoke about student-athletes and how sports build great students and citizens of both the school community and the nation. Jack Munnelly is this year‘s Academic All-Star.

When Coach Shafer shakes your hand it is one of those greetings you will remember. It is only fitting that he spoke about the Weight Room Warrior award. The players, if not in another sport, work an average of two nights a week on strength training. The program starts at the end of January and continues to the end of the season. Logan DeCarolis worked hard in the weight room and worked through having a shoulder that needed end-of-season surgery, leading as a warrior and picked up the honor.

Junior Varsity players in a small school are asked to do many things, explained Coach Moore as he honored Ayden Lessard. Moore talked about the schedule and for many as with Lessard, a freshman, how you have to adjust to being in many different roles through the week. Lessard was awarded this season’s JV Coach’s Award.

Coach Miller explained about having a game on Monday as a JV and being part of the varsity on Saturday, especially in a quarterback role – the honor went to Nick Anderson.

Campbell’s Unsung Hero Award was presented by Coach Masotta, who started the presentation by saying, “this player took on anyone who showed up and punished them,” an example of effort and attitude especially when asked in before the Somersworth game to go from an end position to a linemen and to even switch his jersey number from 81 to 64. At that point the player knew that the “unsung hero” was Osten Anderson.

Varsity Player of the Year was presented by Head Coach Gush and most people knew where it was going when you carried the ball 150 times for 1,449 yards, which is an average of 9.7 yards per carry, scoring 18 touchdowns while on defense, had 23 tackles, 65 assists and three sacks. The honor was presented to number 28 Keegan Mills who was named New Hampshire High School Sports Division 3 Player of the Year and USA Today All-USA New Hampshire Football Team.

The team’s captains took charge and handed out gifts to those who supported the season and as the banquet wound down, the coaching staff presented Coach Gush with a framed newspaper story of the Championship game.

On a personnel note, a thank you to the player coaches and other staff for making the Hudson~Litchfield News part of your team and its celebration, the memorabilia will become part of the display area. Len Lathrop, Punished.