Day to remember for Vailas gridders
STATE UNIVERSITY quarterback Andy Vailas made all the right moves Saturday, leading a fast-paced offense that racked up 472 yards against previously unbeaten Delaware. Passes were precise. His decisions kept the Wildcats a step ahead of the Fightin' Blue Hens in a 34-14 triumph at Cowell Stadium in Durham.
And Vailas, along with older brother Jimmy, a UNH defensive lineman, had one more football decision Saturday night: On which side to sit for the Bedford-Bishop Guertin of Nashua football game?
The Vailas boys, who grew up in Bedford, returned to their alma mater, BG, to watch the Division II Game of the Week at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. Their younger brother, Mike, made five receptions and caught a 22-yard touchdown in Bedford's 27-13 win. Cousin Nick Vailas had a 36-yard TD reception from Bedford quarterback James Caparell.
Watching from the Bedford bleachers were Andy, Jim and yet another Vailas brother, Thomas, whose Governor's Academy football team dismantled the Rivers School, 54-15, on Saturday.
It was one of the sweeter days in Vailas football history that didn't involve Thanksgiving. (The family's own Turkey Bowl deserves a column next month.)
“We're all competitive. For (the family) to go 3-0 like that, we were all pumped up and very proud,” said Jimmy, a 6-foot-3 260-pounder. “It was a great night. It was refreshing to go back to high school and see everyone. It was a little different sitting on the Bedford side, but you've got to go with the family.”
Andy, named Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week, took plenty of punishment in UNH's big win, rushing 14 times for 36 yards and completing 23 passes for 315 yards.
“Yeah, I was sore. My head was shaking a little bit, but none of that matters when you have a chance to see your brother play,” Andy, a sophomore, said. “We'd been looking to see which games we could watch throughout the season. It worked out perfectly.”
Andy Vailas always dreamed of playing college football, but he never seriously considered UNH until Jimmy committed to the Wildcats. Uncles John and Arthur Vailas played for the Wildcats, and father Nick played at Plymouth State following a solid career at Manchester Central. Nick, a member of the New Hampshire Union Leader Board of Judges, has served as the state's Commissioner of Department of Health and Human Services and has founded several physical therapy practices and occupational medicine clinics throughout the state.
“My dad grew up in Manchester. So did my uncles. They've built up the Vailas name,” Andy said. “I wouldn't want anything more than to be playing at UNH and representing the state. A lot of people are on our side and like to see us doing well. That means a lot.”
Tom Vailas, a junior at Governor's Academy in Byfield, Mass., plays running back and wide receiver and is being recruited to play Division I lacrosse at Bryant University. The youngest brother, Mike, a sophomore, also has a bright future ahead. Andy, asked if he's given any advice to his youngest brother, said, “I don't need to say much to him. He plays hard. He plays at 100 miles per hour all the time. I hope he's going to be the best of us all.”
Andy and Jimmy, roommates at UNH along with three other football players, will be playing at the Georgia Dome against Georgia State on Saturday (3:30 p.m.). Bedford hosts Manchester West on Friday night, and Governor's Academy makes a trip to Cambridge, Mass., to play Buckingham Browne & Nichols.
No chance of another family gathering this weekend.
“The past weekend was great. We usually have to make a decision on which games to go to,” Mary Ann Vailas, the boys' mother, said. “(Husband) Nick left the UNH game early to go see Tommy, and we all met up in Nashua. It was nice.”
If everything works out, the brothers will meet again on Thanksgiving.
“We eat a huge meal and fall asleep watching football,” Jimmy said. “Then we all have a game on the front yard. Dad brings in lights. It's a tradition.”