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CHaD All-Star Game Notebook: Goffstown star is still being monitored for heart defects

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 26. 2018 9:32PM

Goffstown's Joey Poisson, who was himself a CHaD child as he hangs out during practice by Team West at Memorial High School in Manchester for the CHaD East-West NH High School All-Star Game to be held Saturday June 30th. 

Goffstown's Joey Poisson goes through linebacker drills Tuesday at Team West's Practice for The CHaD NH East-West All-Star Football Game. (Josh Gibney/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER -- Justin Hufft called it perhaps the best defensive performance he has seen during his seven seasons as Goffstown High School’s varsity football coach. He was referring to Goffstown linebacker Joey Poisson’s effort during Goffstown’s season-opening victory over Concord last season.

“It wasn’t like he was making a lot of spectacular plays, interceptions and stuff, he was just going sideline to sideline,” Hufft said. “A lot of tackles.”

Concord coach Eric Brown apparently took notice, because Brown said Poisson was an easy choice when it came time to select the West roster for this year’s CHaD East-West All-Star Game. Poisson is playing linebacker for the West, which will battle the East on Saturday (1 p.m.) at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium.

“Based on the number of times we played them — we play them every year — he was pretty much a no-brainer,” said Brown, the West’s head coach. “He played outside linebacker in Goffstown’s 3-3 stack, but he’ll play inside in our 4-4. He’s built like a middle linebacker (5-foot-11, 215 pounds).”

Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) holds a special place in Poisson’s heart. While Poisson was in utero, doctors discovered he had congenital heart defects. Poisson has been a CHaD patient since then.

Doctors monitored Poisson after his birth and when he was 4 he had open-heart surgery. He’s still being monitored by a CHaD cardiologist.

“When I was 4 years old, I had an atrial septal defect, which basically is a hole in one of the main arteries in my heart,” Poisson explained. “The blood wasn’t flowing through my body correctly and I was supposed to die. I was only 4, so I don’t remember much about it (the surgery), but I have the scar on my chest. It’s about six inches.”

Poisson, who began playing football in first grade, said he hasn’t experienced any issues since the surgery.
CHaD Game rosters

CHaD rosters page

For a downloadable .pdf of the CHaD East-West All-Star Game rosters, click the image above.

“I used to always have checkups every year and now that I’m older and I haven’t had anything (wrong) it’s now periodically,” he said. “I used to go every two years. Now it’s every four years. I’m all good.”

Poisson became a starter for Goffstown early in his freshman season. He helped the Grizzlies go undefeated en route to the Division I championship during his sophomore year.

“He’s not fast in a 40-yard sense, but he plays very fast,” Hufft said. “He’s also strong and very physical, so even if you have an angle on him he’s able to deflect blocks when they get to him.

“He also played some running back and flex tight end, but we had enough good athletes we didn’t need him there. He’s just so darn good on defense.

“He loves football. The joy he brings to the field is something I’ll always remember about him.”

Although he received interest from Springfield College, Plymouth State and St. Anselm, Poisson will continue his football career at Franklin Pierce next season. The Ravens are transitioning from sprint football to the Division II level.

Poisson became interested in Franklin Pierce when Goffstown’s Coleman Handrahan committed to play there. Handrahan is one of five Goffstown players on the West roster.

Poisson said there’s been nothing but positives about his CHaD experience.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “Just to meet everybody from all around the state. There’s a lot of great talent. The Bedford kids and the Plymouth kids I knew from playing or scrimmaging them every year. It’s just nice building relationships and making new ones. It’s been a real fun time.”