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CHad Game Notebook: Grassini is MVP; event raises $246,000

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 02. 2017 8:38PM
West's, Justin Grassini, center, of Merrimack, was named Most Valuable Player of the game. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader.)

MANCHESTER — When in doubt, go with the quarterback.

That was the case Sunday when it came time to select a Most Valuable Player in the CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Game. Merrimack QB Justin Grassini was awarded the Bo Dickson MVP trophy after he helped lead the West to a 25-14 victory.

Grassini completed 8 of 19 pass attempts for 145 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass, and wasn’t intercepted. Grassini also gained 8 yards on four carries, and punted seven times for an average of 35.4 yards.

Lebanon running back Ryan Milliken was another strong candidate. Milliken rushed for a game-high 83 yards on 10 carries — that included a 22-yard TD run — and returned four punts for 47 yards.

“I was shocked, honestly,” Grassini said. “I would have given it to No. 30, Milliken. He had a great day running the ball.”

Grassini, who set a single-season state record for touchdown passes last season (43), said he plans to play baseball and football at Division III Cortland (N.Y.) State.

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ACCORDING to CHaD officials, as of Sunday this year’s game had raised $246,000 for services provided by Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Entering this year’s contest, the CHaD game had raised $1.3 million for CHaD and the Kristen’s Gift Endowment Fund.

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THE EAST used a limited offensive playbook Sunday because it was without both of its tight ends, and also didn’t have slot receiver/running back Christian Peete because of a work commitment.

Laconia tight end Carter Doherty couldn’t play because of an injury, and Salem tight end Ben Emerson flew to Georgia earlier this weekend. The game was originally scheduled for Friday night, but was suspended because of lightning.

“We only had one offense to run,” East head coach Craig Kozens said. “We lost our first tight end to injury (Friday night) and our second tight end flew out of town. We had to scrap half the offense, and then we lost a tailback to work. Considering what we had, I thought they did a good job.”

Peete also practiced at quarterback. Kozens said Peete would have played every snap on offense.

“We had him in the slot, we had him at tailback, we had him at quarterback — we had him everywhere,” he said. “Returning kicks, returning punts.”

The East, which started with 40 players on its roster, was down to 30 healthy players Sunday.

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WEST assistant coach Paul Lavigne said Sunday’s game was the last he will coach. Lavigne has been a varsity head coach at five New Hampshire high schools: Stevens of Claremont, Manchester Memorial, Manchester West, Milford and Inter-Lakes of Meredith. He won titles while he was at Milford and Inter-Lakes.

“I love it and this was a great way to go out,” he said. “I’ve spent 48 years coaching, but I promised my wife this would be my last game. I have to get some stuff done in my life. I’m 74 and I’m not getting any younger. I think I’ll just sit back and enjoy life a little bit.”

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THE WEST had a 311-308 edge in net offense. ... Stevens of Claremont wide receiver Parker Smith led the West with four receptions for 96 yards. Kennett of Conway’s Pat Cullen, Londonderry’s Peter Navarro and Laconia’s Jacob Filgate each had a team-high six receptions for the East. Cullen had a game-high 117 yards receiving. ... Merrimack defensive end Danny McKillop led the West with nine tackles. Londonderry linebacker Zac Garside and Timberlane of Plaistow linebacker Josh Thibeault each had nine tackles for the East. Pinkerton Academy of Derry defensive end Austin Fields made eight tackles for the East, including 3.5 tackles for loss. ... No East running back had more than 13 yards on the ground.